When I was pregnant with Isaiah, someone gave me book with quotes on motherhood. My very, very favorite was:
A mother is a person who seeing there are only four pieces of pie for five people, promptly announces she never did care for pie. -Tenneva Jordan
What a beautiful quote!
And I knew, in my blossoming heart of motherhood, that I would be exactly that way.
And I was right, as far as selflessly giving up the pie. However, it’s not because of a beautiful, altruistic motherly instinct.
It’s a far darker reason.
A far more secretive reason.
A secret that I’ve found spans ages and American socioeconomic classes.
I call it:
The dirty mom secret.
Now, let me clarify, it’s the secret that’s dirty, not the mom. Well, I suppose I can’t speak for everyone on that matter, but in this particular case, I am talking about a dirty secret.
The following stories are true. The names have been changed to protect the
innocent secret-hiding snack mongerers.
Gertrude recently informed a group of mothers that she had received a 12 pack of Reese’s peanut butter cups for her birthday.
Gertrude is the mother of three children. Three happy children. Three happy children who have no idea there is delicious, creamy peanut butter surrounded by a luscious milk chocolate shell mere feet from where they are being served plain Kix cereal.
Gertrude kept her Reese’s a secret from everyone in her house–especially her husband. The Reese’s were hers and hers alone.
Gert confessed to the group that she went to sneak a quick peanut butter cup while her children were coloring. To her horror, she realized there were only four left.
But rather than let the proverbial cat out of the bag and share the deliciousness–one for her and one for each of her three children, Gert stood, sheltered by the cabinet door, as she shoved all four confectionary masterpieces into her own gluttonous mouth.
Her story elicited laughs and commiserative nods, rather than the expected scorns of shame.
Phyllis soon chimed in with her own tale of guilt.
Phyllis has found that she has a place of solace–her only place of solace in the entire house–in the bathroom. This is a new development, as her four children have now entered a phase of life where they won’t face certain death if left alone for the typical 43.5 seconds necessary for a mother to empty her bladder in peace.
But Phyllis has run with this new discovery. She realized the kids can’t pry open the bathroom door if she opens all of the vanity drawers, blocking the intended swinging path of the wooden plank of solitude.
So Phyllis shamelessly eats snacks ,of which her children are unaware, in the shelter of the bathtub, with the shower curtain closed. If someone has bathed recently, she stands. Otherwise, she sits, relaxes, and enjoys a peaceful snack as her children practice wrestling moves or
play nicely cry outside the bathroom door.
Doris, a mother nearly a decade younger than many of our impromptu support group, expressed thankfulness in hearing that other mothers hide snacks from their kids.
Her older son has just reached an age where he feels entitled to anything his mother looks like she might be enjoying. Doris is an excellent mother, who is certainly not breeding an attitude of entitlement into her children, but realizes sometimes the battle involved in standing one’s ground really takes away from the peace and serenity of a mom-only snack.
Annette admitted she hides ice cream sandwiches in her basement freezer. Heading down to do a load of laundry is her special time to enjoy an ice cream break.
If a kid starts to wander down the stairs, Annette promptly hides her secret, and scolds the child for coming downstairs after being told not to. When the coast is clear, she finishes the laundry and the special treat.
Ethel intentionally makes extra frosting, when making birthday cakes. Or, when pressed for time, she buys an extra can. Either case involves hiding a store of the sweet treat from her children, so she can sneakily head to the fridge and steal a spoonful at will.
Motherhood has taught many of us that snacks and treats can easily be hidden in pantries, fridges, and freezers, by strategic placement of vegetables. Green beans are an especially convenient camouflaging tool. Many mothers have kept cartons of ice cream hidden from their kids and husbands by simply placing a bag of frozen green beans across the top of the ice cream package.
Greta has instilled a level of healthy fear into her children that I’m sure I never will. Her children know and respect when a snack is intended for Mom and Mom alone. They wouldn’t dare eat mom’s special treats.
However, Greta utilizes the same tricks as the rest of us in hiding from the largest, most demanding kid of all–her husband.
Greta is also known to hide, beyond the idea of a special treat, a sick-people supply of saltine crackers, ginger ale, and soup. She puts boy scouts to shame in her level of preparedness.
These women, one by one, shared their stories. We laughed, sharing our ugly secrets. Are we the first generation to discover such an ingenious idea?
My smile faded as I remember a few years back, standing in my mother’s kitchen.
“I wish there was something fun to eat,” I lamented.
My mom reached, matter-of-factly, into the corner kitchen cabinet and pulled out a bag of peanut M&Ms.
“How long have those been there??” I asked.
“Oh, I’ve always kept chocolate up there.”
“How come we never knew about it??”
She looked me squarely in the eye, “because then there wouldn’t be any chocolate up there when I want some.”
Well played, Mom.
Onward, soldiers of motherhood. I shall steal your secrets and use your ideas for my own.
But shhhhh…. don’t tell my kids.