Food & Drink » Glenda Bartosh on Food

Food and drink: Mom's the word

All we are saying is give mom a break



My best gal-pal gave me a fridge magnet years ago that reads, "Well-behaved women rarely make history."

Well-behaved women also make a lot of meals.

Yes, Mother's Day is a social invention but it's also become a social convention and it's rapidly approaching this Sunday - you haven't forgotten have you? - along with the requisite Mother's Day brunch or dinner to give mom a break at least one meal out of the year.

And so I dedicate this column to all mom's everywhere, especially those who remain the chief cooks and bottle washers around the house despite holding down jobs, on average, at 79 per cent of men's earnings for the same work (Conference Board of Canada), depending on who they are, where they live and what they do for a living.

Do a quick survey of your friends who are moms and, whether they work outside the home or not, you'll likely get a story that mirrors Statistics Canada's: women still do most of the housework and that includes making most of the meals, or at least organizing the flow of food into the house, even if that means string cheese, frozen pizzas and granola bars.

Just over 80 per cent of Canadian women report working outside the home but, unfortunately, men doing equal duty when it comes to housework hasn't kept a reciprocal pace.

I remember my mom and I calculating the number of meals she'd made over 62 years of married life and, yes, she worked part-time for 20-some of those years.

Three meals a day for 22,630 days adds up to a whopping 67,890 meals. This in a household where dad's cooking runs the full gamut from poaching a good egg to heating up leftover spaghetti when he's on his own.

Mom and I tried to be realistic in our calculations, knocking off a couple of thousand meals for vacations, lunches and dinners out for whatever reason and, of course, one meal off every year for each Mother's Day. But even if you end up with, say, 65,000 meals that she's made over the years - and this was a few years back - that's still one heck of a lot of cooking.

While we were doing the calculations, she made an interesting remark: I don't mind cooking, she said, it's all the meal planning I get tired of.

What are we having tonight for dinner?

That's a good question. Even Una Abrahamson in her book, Domestic Life in Nineteenth Century Canada, devoted an entire chapter entitled "The Dinner Question" to the matter.

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