Monday, September 29, 2008

The Details of My Inadequacy

Today is the day my daughter starts classes at the School of American Ballet, which means we'll commute to the Upper West Side twice a week after school. It's at least a forty-minute subway ride each way, so we'll log roughly an hour and a half of train time on class days. I'm planning to bring a clipboard so she can do her homework on the train, and I guess I’d better bring crayons too, because her homework often involves coloring. I’ve already decided that if she gets any more of those mindless cut-and-paste worksheets on ballet days, I’ll let her skip them. I hate them because they take Molly a long time to do – she’s very painstaking with her scissoring - and they’re really not teaching her anything, anyway. Inadequacy number one: I let my daughter skip homework which I deem annoying and worthless.

We really have been trying to get the girls in bed earlier though, for all our sakes. Mom and Dad need quiet work time in the evenings, and little girls need plenty of sleep. A copy of The 7 O’Clock Bedtime, by Inda Schaenen, mocks us from the coffee table, where it's taken up permanent residence. We haven’t mastered it yet, but we’re trying. On ballet days, M and I won’t even get home until seven, but if we eat dinner on the subway, I can (probably) have her tucked into bed by 7:30. In search of packable, portable, healthy dinner ideas, I turned to Google (of course) and found something equal parts fascinating and horrifying (again, of course, right?).

Several Flickr photostreams showcase beautifully packed lunches, dinners, and snacks, handcrafted by supermoms for their precious and well-nourished offspring. See some here, if you can handle it. If you can’t, I’ll tell you: they’re made in Bento-box style containers and feature things like hard-boiled eggs molded and dyed to look like barnyard animals, rice balls decorated to look like cartoon characters, and exotic items such as quail eggs, kimchi fried rice, and – this is the best one – “sauté of enoki mushrooms, red bell peppers, bacon and green onions.”

Holy shit! Here I thought I was doing pretty well to slap together a PB&J and some apple slices, with bonus points for remembering to throw in a cloth napkin and a Hershey’s miniature, but apparently I’ve reached a new, previously undreamed-of level of inadequacy. Is this really what the other mothers are doing now? I hate to stoke the mommy-wars bonfire, but I can’t help wondering why you would go to the trouble of documenting your masterpiece lunches on the Internet if you weren’t trying to gloat, just a tiny bit. If I weren’t so neurotic I suppose I’d be inspired by these women and their lovable lunches, but who are we kidding? I am neurotic and insecure, and I feel like my best efforts aren’t enough when compared to such marvelousness.

I console myself by supposing that these women probably don’t give their husbands very many blow-jobs, an area in which I believe I excel. (If there’s a Flickr photostream proving me wrong about that too, I don’t want to know about it.) I wonder if my parents read my blog. See, another inadequacy: I publicly reveal intimate things about myself (and my poor husband) which my readers probably don’t need to know. But hey, it’ll be fun to see if my blog stats spike this week. To date, the entry with the most hits is still the one with MILF-eat-MILF in the title. Give the people what they want, right? I’m doing my best – it’s just never going to involve cartoon onigiri and Bento boxes.