Monday, July 09, 2012

The Tater Tot Casserole

A friend and I were having coffee and we got on the subject of the moms we used to be. Moms who wanted to be perfect, who still thought that if we followed some sort of prescribed formula we would create the ideal family, with the perfect offspring. We homeschooled and had elaborate charts for how to organize our households and signed up for all the right activities. We read all the how-to books, studying them as if we'd be tested on them later. We had heroes we looked up to, going to hear them at conferences, standing in line to say something inane to them about how inspired we were by their lives, wishing that just some of whatever they possessed would rub off on us. Both of us took turns confessing just how deep we'd gone in this pursuit of perfection.

She grinned and leaned forward. "I even emulated Michelle Duggar," she confessed. "I, like, studied her and tried to do what she did."

I nodded and grinned back. "Me too! I bought that first book they came out with."

And before I could say what was coming next, she did. "I even made that tater tot casserole!"

I doubled over in laughter. "I was just about to say I thought that the key had to be that tater tot casserole!"

Oh we had a good laugh over those moms we used to be. Now we know better. We know that, in spite of our best efforts and diligent studying of recipes and organizational techniques, our kids are as imperfect as we are, our spouses are not going to be robots, and all the formulas in the world don't guarantee a perfect existence. My friend and I haven't given up as in we don't try at all. But we have let go of our pursuit of perfection, of holding ourselves up to some self-created unreasonable standard. We've stopped seeking out other people as role models and stopped looking around for validation or permission.

I dare say we're happier for it. Some of you might like that tater tot casserole, but my family? They wouldn't eat it. Turns out, that's just not who we are. And for that I am very, very glad.
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Heather said...

How funny. I confess to having made the tater tot casserole too.

Tiffany Lingg said...

I never did get around to trying the tator tot casserole but I certainly have tried to emulate other moms - those I assumed had it all figured out. Only now with my oldest being almost 6 years old am I learning that no one has it "figured out" - that there is no one perfect formula for being the perfect mom. Thanks for this post - I'm glad I'm not the only one guilty of doing this!

Anita said...

When I left full time work 11 years ago I was so unsure and scared of being a SAHM, but I survived and found some wonderful friends. I know my family is quirky and imperfect, but I'm happy we have each other.m

Lisa said...

I have heard of the infamous Tater Tot casserole, but never got the guts to try it; my family is probably happy about that. I gave up on perfection long ago, so I am just who I am now and either you love me for it, or you don't. But it's OK! It's given others (and me) plenty laugh about!

Zibilee said...

I'm not a tatertot casserole kind of mom or wife, but there are so many that think they are doing it wrong, when the reality is that there is no right way to be a wife and a mother. We are all different people, with different families, and different types of goals. I'm happy where I am at with my family, and I think that they are happy with me. There is no one size fits all for parenthood. We come in all sizes and shapes. All I really care about is that the people in my home know that I love them to bits, and that I show them that every day. Fantastic post today, Marybeth!

Melissa Brander said...

i never tried to emulate Michelle Duggar, but I have made the tater tot casserole. I actually grew up eating it, long before Michelle Duggar came on the scene.