My Parents Were Good at Everything. Now I Am, Too.


When I was 8 years old, I made my mom a cake for her birthday, and I did it all by myself. I told her to stay out of the kitchen and not come in ’til it was done. STAY OUT, MOM. It was a surprise.

I worked on that cake for hours. Days. Or maybe 30 minutes. Time is wonky when you’re a kid. But it was a LONG TIME. And that was just the mixing. I sat there in the kitchen of our tiny ranch house with my mom 10 feet away — I SAID STAY OUT, MOM — and I meticulously sourced every ingredient.  One box of cake mix. One cup of water. Three eggs. And three cups of oil. One by one, I measured and dumped everything together.

Except the recipe didn’t call for 3 cups of oil, I realized after mixing. I was in 3rd grade, I was bad at fractions, and 3 looks an awful lot like 1/3, doesn’t it?

When I was 8 years old, I made my mom a cake for her birthday, and I did it all by myself. With her help. And a lot of crying. And some crying that looked like raging. And a bunch of extra flour and eggs and baking soda and stuff my mom dumped in the bowl. And the surprise was RUINED. And my life was RUINED. And the cake kind of sucked, too.

My mom loved that cake. And she hugged me and kissed me like it was awesome. Or like I was. Which made no sense to me because I knew better. And makes all the sense to me now because I’m a mom who’s eaten the worst best cakes in the world.

My parents were good at everything when I was growing up.

They were good at fixing cakes.

And fixing feelings.

And erecting tents.

And I wondered if I’d ever measure up.

Then I became a teenager, and I wondered even more.

Because my parents were good. Really good. At driving me insane.

I mean, my parents were just uniquely gifted at making me crazy, folks. So gifted, in fact, that I was positive, no matter what I did as a parent, I would never drive my kids as nuts as my parents drove me.

I imagined my poor kids sitting around the house in their teenage years, bored with nothing to complain about and no one at whom to direct their angst. They would be isolated. Mocked by their peers. All alone in their blissful experience of having such a wonderful mommy.

But I underestimated all my parents taught me.

“Don’t worry,” they said when we brought home our oldest.

“Some of parenting will come naturally,” they said. “The rest, you’ll learn.”

“And when the time comes for you to deliver, you’ll rise to the occasion,” they said.

And they were right.

My parents were good at everything. Now I am, too.

Bring on the cake.


P.S. Are you good at everything, too, Momrades? HOW good?

FYI, the proper format for answering this question is, “I’m so good that ____________.”

For example, I’m so good at driving my teenager insane that I requested he take a shower last night. Or, I’m so good at making my teenager nuts that I asked him to empty the dishwasher. Now, don’t worry if your answers aren’t as terrible as mine. I worked long and hard to come up with stuff that’s super, extra irritating. If you’re new at this game, it’s OK, friends. Baby steps. You’ll get there. 😉


P.P.S. My teenager approved this message.


“Birthday Cake” image credit digitalart at

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28 responses to “My Parents Were Good at Everything. Now I Am, Too.”

  1. I’m so awesomely annoying that I actually make my teenager pick up his dirty clothes from where he’s dumped them at the bottom of the basement stairs, and put them in his hamper. I also make him wash his hands before working in the kitchen, do his homework occasionally, and remove at least one earbud at dinner.

  2. I’m so good that I had to make breakfast before my 21 month old could eat it. He was ready at wake up, and for some reason the scrambled eggs were not ready yet.

    I’m so good that I have to repeat everything I say to my 4 yr old at least twice before he even hears, and he expects me to hear him on the first try and does not want to repeat anything.

  3. I am so awesome at being a mom and jumping to future conclusions that my 11, 9 and 6 year old (the baby has been spared so far) get regular lectures about drug use. They try to tell us they are children and have no plans to use drugs (a likely story) but with my husband and I both in jobs that encounter drug users who could just as easily (or not as easily but definitely as an option) NOT have used drugs – we remind them, sometimes as if they are already guilty or so they complain, what the end result of all of that “fun” will be. Honestly, I don’t think actual junkies have had as much lecturing about it as my poor kids.

  4. I’m so good at being a mom that I regularly ask my 10 year old to practice her cello, an instrument *she* chose to take up, and insists she wants to continue to study. I also ask her to put the silverware away, put her clothes in the hamper, and eat at least one serving of protein everyday.

  5. I am so good at irritating my 14 year old that he has to tell me he hates me with regularity. On the other hand, when he glares, and follows it with a grumbling “but, you’ll make me a chocolate milk, right?…please?” I can’t help but comply. He won’t be my big little boy for long…

  6. I’m so good at bothering my 4-year-old that I find myself saying things like, “No, you may NOT run around naked all day and have conversations with ‘Willie’.”

    Now he’s taught his 2-year-old brother that it’s fun to run around naked, so I’m awesome at saying things like, “No, you may not run around naked and try to poo while doing head-stands.”

    I think at this point I’m just happy they comply with those requests when we’re in public… so far. 🙂

  7. I hear ya, sister. I am so good at infuriating my toddler that I ask him to wear pants (and underwear).

  8. My only daughter is two – it’s hard to tell what’s annoyance at me and what’s just frustration at knowing how everything is supposed to work but not being able to make her hands and fingers do the right motions. She *really* wants to be able to write her alphabet, but can only manage scribbles.
    I am getting *lots* of great ideas for when she (and any future siblings) get older! Thanks, momrades!

  9. My niece nearly did the 1/3 into 3 cups thing too. Lucky she asked grandma, “Do you think it means 1 cup or 3 cups?”

    As for me, I’m so awesome at annoying my 5 and 3yo that I insist the table is set before they get to eat.

  10. I am soo awesome that I make my teens where period accurate costumes before they get school credit in history (my 15 year old is making a powder wig at the moment)… isn’t homeschooling grand 🙂

    I am also awesome in making each of my teens cook dinner once a week… a real meal with veggies and everything! This elicits the usual “but chocolate comes from a bean, so it must be a veggie, right?”

  11. I’m so good at annoying my children that I asked them to clean their rooms before they can watch tv…..eliciting sound about how life is not fair 🙂 Mind you, as they are only 4,6 & 8, is really only means pick up the clothes off the floor ( yes, those ones right NEXT to the laundry basket) and put them IN the basket! Oh yes and closing their drawers. I will never understand why I get such complaints for asking the, to close their drawers.

    On another note : I recall making my mother a beautiful, heart shaped cake as a child. I spent ages using food colourings to dye raw rice to decorate the top ( yes, raw) and my mother thanked me and sat and a a whole piece, crunching away and telling me how delicious it was.

  12. I’m so good at annoying my teens that when my 13-yr-old told me, “You don’t really work, Mom, you mostly sit around doing nothing!” I made her do my “nothing” ALL weekend long. There sure is a lot of nothing around here! 😉

  13. I am so good at driving my boy insane when I ask him to please pick up his underwear off of the floor after he showers. (Asking him to shower twice a week makes me so awesome as well.)

  14. I’m so good at annoying my children that I remind them at least a hundred times a day to shut the kitchen gate already, eliciting eye rolls, growling, foot-stomping, and cries of MOOooM!!! They’re 4 and 6. Help me?

  15. My daughter did the 3 cups of oil – once or twice; We weren’t as brave as your mother & try to fix it; When she finally asked for help, and we discovered the problem – I suggested we start over!

    Now if I could convince her unloading, just unloading the dishwasher is a daily activity!

  16. I’m so good at annoying my teens that I make them CLEAN UP THE KITCHEN after I’ve spent an hour and a half fixing wonderful food that they gobbled up in 10 minutes.

  17. I am so good at being unfair to my 10 yo that after receiving an email from his teacher about incomplete work and attitude around the work, that I gave him the choice of sitting at the dining room table doing nothing until dinner and bedtime or going back to school, apologizing to said teacher for bad attitude and choices, gathering up the incomplete work and completing it on a gorgeous afternoon when he otherwise would have had no homework.

  18. I’m so good at driving my almost teenager insane that _I requested she actually take the homework she had labored over the night before and we had guided her to put away correctly in her binder, back out of the binder and into the teacher’s homework collection bin, thus ending the perfect string of Not Handed In grades for work she had, in fact, completed!_ Oh the wailing and gnashing of the teeth this encouraged!

  19. I’m so good at irritating my 5 year old that I told him that if he really was “all full” (which sounds a lot like “awful” when he says it) from lunch, that he wouldn’t have any room in his tummy for dessert.

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