How my husband became a short order cook {In his words}

With Father’s Day approaching, I was brainstorming ways that I could incorporate my husband into this blog. I already talk about him, so I asked him if he’d have any interest in contributing his thoughts on my blog. He agreed.

I thought he may write about what it’s like to be married to a working mom, but what he came up with is so much better. It shows the love he has for his children, and the selfless spirit with which he entered our marriage and still shows me today {almost 8 years later}. I rely heavily on him to help with the kids and the house so that I have the time to pursue my own career, too. We are a team and I literally could not do it without him. I loved seeing what “help” looks like through his eyes, and I hope you enjoy reading it as much as I did.

Happy Father’s Day to all of the amazing dads out there!

In relationships we’ve all had moments where we admit we need help. As a husband, sometimes getting off the couch for a beer during a football game seems insurmountable. Going hungry seems justified considering the effort it would take to rise, hunt, and capture the appropriate snack, if it even exists. I thank my wife for her vigilance during these times.

It’s ok to ask for help, we all need it. Sometimes the help is for big things, and sometimes it’s for small things (football snacks may fall under the latter). Relationships, especially marriage, rely on honesty and admitting when you need something.

It wasn’t until we bought our first house that Lauren and I really took notice of each other’s habits and rituals. (Enter cliche remark about my toilet water magically turning blue here.) Early in our careers, no time was more stressful than the morning routine: hitting snooze on the alarm, showering, grooming, coffee, news, and breakfast all while trying to get out of the door on time. So when my wife asked for help in the morning, after pointing out she took more time to get ready for work than I did, I decided to tackle breakfast. What started as a bowl of cereal here, a fried egg and toast there, became something much bigger.

After eight years, three houses, three cities, three kids, two cats and many burnt waffles later, I’ve become known around the house as “Chef”. It’s a title I’ve earned, and I hope it sticks around for a long, long time.

Making my family breakfast has become one of the greatest experiences I’ve had as a father. (And it all started with my wife asking for help!) What’s especially great is that I get to recreate  the experience every morning. It’s starting the day with one small accomplishment before I set out for the rest of a hectic day full of unknowns. Plus, there’s something selfishly satisfying about curing hunger in the morning.

I love making biscuits and gravy from scratch, with scrambled eggs, bacon and potatoes. The entire house fills with smells of breakfast and the family gathers around our kitchen island to share a meal, be silly and discuss our day. It’s thirty minutes of family time.

The Chef doesn’t always get to cook what he wants. (I’d pick grits and corn beef hash, a true Okie at heart. I just can’t help myself!) Lately pancakes have been at the top of the menu and I’m happy to oblige. Henry and Daphne love fried cinnamon apples on top, something my Mom used to make for me growing up. Lauren may want protein instead of carbs, so I’ll scramble some eggs. On a busy morning the kids may want cereal when I have oatmeal out. Hard boiled eggs go over better than fried, and omelets get me extra brownie points from the wife.

It’s the first meal of the day, why not let them have a say!

A simple rule in our kitchen: if you have the freedom of choice, it starts with a healthy one. Our kids have grown to love bell peppers, carrots, snap peas, apples, grapes and oranges. There’s always an exception to the rule, and ours sits adjacent to the coffee pot (a container holding mint chocolate chip cookies and, as of this writing, notably low. Something the family tends to be on edge about.)

Despite countless authors and celebrities advising parents not be short order cooks – I say do it. At least for breakfast.

With all the routines kids have these days offering them a little freedom in the morning can be refreshing. Eating habits shouldn’t be controlled, they should be influenced. I have a short menu of breakfast meals my wife and kids know they can order from. When they come into the kitchen for breakfast I’m not just a cook, I become a teacher, a counselor, a friend, and a father. (Life’s not perfect, sometimes I go full dictator. Like if yogurt starts flying like shrapnel in a Michael Bay film.)

There’s so much focus on family time at dinner, which is enjoyed in my home, as well. But there’s something special about breakfast. A new day, a fresh meal, and a time for me to connect with my family. My wife asked me for help, but she ended up giving me the best job I’ve ever had. Put that on your toast and eat it.

Working Mom Wednesday: I wanted to be a mom, but I also wanted a career

Working Mom

I can’t tell you how many times a week I have an “it’s such a small world” moment, especially living in Kansas City. Well, that’s exactly what happened the first time I met working mom, Mary Moore. First, we realized we had a mutual friend. Then, we put together that we’d actually met before – probably more than once – at the birthday parties of another friend’s sons.

Mary and her husband Tim could quite possibly be the coolest people I know. They are both hilarious, genuinely kind, and super fun. Like, there is no way my husband and I could possibly hang with them, fun.

But one of the things I find most intriguing about this couple is their family dynamic: Mary is a career woman and Tim is the primary caregiver. While there is no doubt that there’s been a huge increase in the number of stay-at-home-fathers {16% and rising}, it’s still often presumed to be mom’s gig.

I couldn’t wait to interview Mary and find out how this arrangement works for her.

TFM: Self-promo time. Tell me what you do.

Mary: I’m the Director of Marketing and Business Development for Pulse Design Group.  Pulse is an architecture firm that focuses solely on healthcare design. Very niche, specialized market. Been there almost a year. Love it!

TFM: If you weren’t doing that, what would you be?

Mary: I’d be independently wealthy and sitting on a beach somewhere. Obviously. But…when I lost all my money on a risky bet, I’d rehab furniture. I love reviving ‘drab into fab’ as they say.

TFM: That sounds like a dream. The beach part. Now, you’re in a unique–but growing–role of being the breadwinner while your husband is home with your three kids. What is that like?

Mary: Ummm….it’s freakin’ awesome and totally works for us. The role reversal wasn’t much of an adjustment for us and has been awesome for our family. I can scoot off to work feeling 100% comfortable knowing that my kids are in great hands. Something I was just never quite comfortable with in the daycare setting. If it can’t be me, I’m sure as hell glad it’s him. And sometimes, more often than not, I’ve realized that he does a better job than I do, or did, or would do. My husband totally rocks the stay at home dad gig and embraces it. I love hearing about his day when I come home from work and everyday is different. Today, the highlight of his day was taking ballet lessons from our four year old daughter. I have to admit, there are times when pings of jealousy run through me that I’m missing out, but I remind myself how lucky they are to have special bonding time with their dad. A time that they will always remember and remember fondly….at least that’s the hope 😉

TFM: I’ve met your husband; they’ll definitely remember 🙂 We know each day is different for dad, so what is a typical day like for you?

Mary: Typical? What’s typical? I’m a mother of three kids (age 6, 4 and 2), work full time, have a food truck business on the side, and sit on several boards of philanthropic organizations. Every day is different. Drastically different. Sure there are the norms of getting up and going to work, but what happens before, during and after are always different. That’s one thing I’ll say about having kids is there is never a dull moment. Never. And if there is, it’s usually a bad sign…..or so I’ve found to be true for us.

TFM: You mentioned that at times it’s hard not to feel a smidgen of jealousy for your stay-at-home hubby. Have you ever missed a moment in your child’s life that you regret?

Mary: Oh, hell yeah. Of course. Who hasn’t? I hate it. I’ll never get used to it but it’s part of life. I’ve missed a party at school or a field trip or two, but I make absolutely certain that I’m there for the main ones. Big or small, it doesn’t matter. I know my kids, and know when they really need me there. Sometimes it’s to be the room parent volunteer for a special event at school and I’ve been there. Sometimes it’s as simple as just playing chase or having some one on one time. It’s taking the time to make those things count, so that they know I’m there….even when I can’t {physically} be. I just have to balance it as best I can and be okay with the fact that I’ll miss things from time to time. Does it suck? Yes. Do I like it? No. But that’s just the way it is and I’ll drive myself bat shit crazy if I don’t constantly remind myself that I’m doing the best I can.

TFM: And the forgiving part about parenting is that no one expects you to do it alone. It takes a village. Who’s yours?

Mary: Should I name names? That list would be a mile long. We have help. So much help. We need help and aren’t afraid to admit it. Parenting is hard. Damn hard. Hectic schedules, a messy house, non-stop chaos, unruly toddlers, and the thought of trying to organize a date night seems like a huge feat. Luckily, we have help. We live in a super awesome neighborhood where there are lots of young families. We have all become friends. Good friends. One family became our business partners. We all walk right into each other’s homes without knocking and make ourselves at home. We watch each other’s kids. But ‘watch’ isn’t the right word. We are all a huge part of each other’s lives and help each other because we want to, not because we have to. It’s good to know that there are many sets of eyes watching over all the kids at all times. Other than the neighbors, our family helps us out a TON. Two sets of grandparents babysit often along with extended family members. We have a large network that is always willing to help. We would be screwed without them. Royally screwed!

TFM: So a divide and conquer approach. I love that. Is there any product or service you love so much you could be a brand ambassador?

Mary: Duct tape. Kids break everything. Duct tape fixes everything. Problem solved!

TFM: Creative! So what keeps you from losing your cool at home?

Mary: Wine. Chocolate. Then more wine. And my husband. He’s the best sounding board and the voice of reason. And he’s funny. Really funny and finds humor in everything. Even when there’s poop on the floor (which happens more than I’d like to admit-our 2 year old has learned to take off his diaper). It’s made life interesting as of late. But no matter what’s happening, there’s always laughter in our house. That keeps us sane. Oh, and more wine!

TFM: So now that we’re talking poop, what is your favorite thing about being a mom?

Mary: That’s a loaded question. Too hard to answer so I’ll give an example.  Recently my 6 year old son asked me to be his Valentine. Of course I accepted. Being a mom has its ups and downs, but being my kid’s Valentine is one of the greatest honors and privileges I’ve experienced in 32 (okay fine, who am I kidding, 37) years. Those special moments, even if they seem few and far between, far outweigh the sleepless nights, potty training struggles, terrible twos, etc. When your child asks you to be his Valentine, you know you’ve done something right. Being a mom is amazing. But it’s amazing because my kids are amazing. Of course I’m biased, but they truly are. But you asked about my favorite part about being a mom. It has to be those tiny moments in time when you see your child for the first time, when they catch your eye and smile at you from across the room while they are busy playing with a friend, when you watch them learn, see them being helpful or empathetic, playing with their siblings, developing new skills, and the list goes on and on. And did I mention when you get asked to be their Valentine? That’s a killer. God help me if he ever asks to marry me!

TFM: So sweet. I love my mama’s boy, too! Now, you have two sons and a daughter; what do you hope they take away from mom working outside of the home?

Mary: I hope they understand that I did it because I wanted to. I wanted to be a mom, but I also wanted a career. I like to work. I’m actually a better mom because I work. When I get home, I focus on them and we get quality time. I hope they learn that you can have both if that’s what you truly want.

TFM: What’s your best piece of advice for other working moms?

Mary: Do it. Embrace it. Own it. Let your children see that you are working and explain to them why it’s important. If you have to leave them, leave them for something that you love. Let them see you rock your career and achieve success. They may not quite understand it, but they know it’s important. And don’t beat yourself up about being a working mom. Be proud of who you are, what you do and that you can have a career and be an involved parent. It’s not an either/or.

TFM: I’m on a quest to having it all. What does having it all mean to you?

Mary: Man, that sounds great. Really great. Unfortunately, it probably doesn’t work for me and my family in the traditional sense. I work hard, damn hard. Long hours. Then I come home and continue to work-but it’s a different job. The mom job. I’m not much for fancy houses and flashy cars or “keeping up with the Joneses.” Why would I need to keep up with them? That’s too much pressure and for all I know, they’re up to their eyeballs in debt, on the brink of divorce and they don’t have strong bonds with their friends or kids….and likely as not, they’re probably jerks. Okay, that’s probably not fair, and I’m sure The Joneses are perfectly nice people, but I just want to work hard, provide a comfortable life for my family, spend time with them and be real. I don’t want to try be something I’m not. That’s too much work and really exhausting. I don’t need another reason to be exhausted. And when I go to bed at night with dishes in the sink, laundry piled high and a messy house {at least I cleaned up the poop}, I know my kids and my husband know that they are my world. So in that regard, I do have it all!


Remember that food truck Mary mentioned? Her husband Tim takes turns operating Pie Hole with co-owner {and fellow stay-at-home-dad} Chris Knowles. This daddy-duo has figured out job sharing for care givers turned entrepreneurs. On top of everything else on her working mom to-do list, Mary does their marketing. Bravo, team!

Want to be interviewed for #workingmomwednesday? Contact me to find out how.