Food Storage & Other Adventures in Motherhood

Book Review: Ketchup is a Vegetable: And Other Lies Moms Tell Themselves

by heather

I think most mothers can identify with the title of this book, because parenting is hard and just because you want what is best for your kids (like have them eat their vegetables), it doesn’t mean that
they’re going to cooperate. And sometimes the results are hilarious. In Ketchup Is a Vegetable: And Other Lies Moms Tell Themselves, Robin O’Bryant shares some of these hilarious moments she has experienced with her three adorable and patience-trying daughters. She shares her concerns and her love for them and how she copes with laughter and ‘Mommy Juice’ (wine). Reading this book is like talking to an understanding friend who reminds you that you don’t have to be perfect to be a good mom, motherhood is an adventure and helps you laugh at the craziness of it all.

Robin shares several laugh out loud funny stories about her parenting experiences, about how parenting is not what you expected, about how pregnancy does many unpleasant things to your body and your kids will keep you on your toes. There were so many stories that I identified with, like the horrors of traveling and shopping with small children and the ones about how children consistently are more interested in what you are eating. (Only my youngest does this, but it can get annoying when she is climbing on me trying to eat my food that is exactly like what is on her own plate.)  And of course the awkwardness of teaching your kids about sex and teaching them not to repeat all the things that you say.  As well as the difficulties of breast-feeding and finding places to breast feed and just how hard that postpartum period is. Reading this book recently I thought, ‘Dang I wish that I had read this when I had postpartum depression. Laughing at the situation would have made it easier.’  So if you or someone you know is going through that difficult situation, I highly recommend reading this book. No, it is not a substitute for seeing a doctor or getting clinical help, but I do think that reading this book can help put things into perspective. Well, I recommend reading this book anyway, but at that point it would have been especially helpful.

One of my favorite stories (and I loved several of them) was when she took some photos of her children running naked through the sprinklers in her backyard. She sent the pictures to Walmart to be developed.  The clerk in the photo lab gave her a paper saying “Several of your photographs were deemed inappropriate by management. Due to their pornographic nature Wal-Mart has chosen not to print them.” Her response was ‘Excuse me, but they think I’m a child pornographer and all they have to say about it is, “You can’t have your pictures?” Oh heeeell to the no. I don’t think so. After having a frustrating conversation with the clerk, she asked to speak to the manager.

“Let me see if I understand you both correctly…you think that my pictures were pornographic in nature and all you have to say to me is ‘I’m sorry’? You think I was EXPLOITING A CHILD and YOU are apologizing to ME? Is that right?”

“If you think I’m a child pornographer and all you have to say is I can’t have my pictures, then SHAME ON YOU! You either call the police RIGHT NOW and have me arrested or GIVE ME MY FREAKIN’ PICTURES!” The manager printed her pictures and handed them to her without saying a word.

The only thing about this book that I didn’t really love was some of her body-shaming attitudes. She said that skinny pregnant women don’t deserve to have epidurals and skinny women with big boobs make it so that everyone else doesn’t feel comfortable shopping for bras. I firmly believe that every person needs to have a healthy attitude about their body, whatever their shape and size. And comparing yourself to other people doesn’t change the fact that brassieres are a useful article of clothing. They need to love their body and appreciate it with all of it’s imperfections. And yes, in our culture there are many who shame fat people and that is despicable and mean. However it’s not okay to shame skinny people either. When I was pregnant with my son, everything but  torso got smaller. My average arms and legs got very thin, while my stomach turned into a perfect basketball. I wasn’t turning into that shape because I was attempting to starve myself, I was struggling to gain weight because I was vomiting almost every day for nine months straight. It’s not a condition that I asked for and it isn’t very kind to say that people who have hyperemesis gravidarum or just happen to have a particular body type don’t deserve pain relief. I think that we, as a society, really need to stop shaming people regardless of their size or body shape. We need to teach our children healthy attitudes about themselves because people come in all shapes and sizes and that is okay.

In the last chapter, Robin shares a personal story of losing a dear friend and how it has helped her to appreciate the difficulties of motherhood.

“Every moment counts….Every child that is born fills me full of hope. Hope that this world isn’t the horrible place depicted on the evening news. Hope that if something so perfect can even exist, then there is good to be found in the world….Every day brings a new opportunity to love our children, to laugh with them, cry with them and watch them grow. Every day with our children is an opportunity for us to learn from them, to hopefully replicate their easy acceptance of others and unconditional love for life….It can be difficult to keep these things in perspective….We can laugh, or we can cry. The choice is yours. But if I had my time again–I’d do it all the same.”

I love that. I think they are good words to live by.


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