Words by Dena Dyer


To cook dinner for the family.


I will burn, break, or bandage something before the night is over.


•Defrost the meat, after throwing away some which had been in the freezer since the Reagan administration.

•Start the water for pasta, for once remembering to turn the burner on. Open a can of fruit cocktail (or as it’s called in the Dyer house, “nectar of the gods”) and chill it in the fridge. Place the chicken in the oven.

•While helping Jordan with a chore, forget that the water on the stove has changed from a rolling boil to a roiling bowl. Place the pasta in the pan just before the last few cups evaporate. Let the pasta cook and then drain it, setting pan aside and forgetting to turn off the burner.

•Take the chicken out of the oven and set it on the still-hot burner on top. After dishing up dinner, hear something sizzling and realize I’ve set the glass dish on the burner—and the last piece of chicken is still cooking.

•Turn off the burner and put the dish in the sink; after turning on the oven fan (or as it’s called in the Dyer house, “the dinner bell”), pour cold water into the glass dish.

•After cutting Jordan’s chicken up, hear something exploding. Turn around to find the glass dish in a million tiny pieces. Redeem the meal by showing Jordan the remains of the now-famous exploding glass dish, to which he replies, “That’s awesome!”


While cleaning up the mess in the sink after dinner, I cut my hand. I have therefore broken a dish, burned a chicken, and bandaged a finger—all in one night. I am culinary-challenged, to say the least. And sometimes, to be honest, it makes me feel like a less-than-stellar mommy. After all, what child doesn’t need a home-cooked goodie now and then to really feel their mother’s love, all the way down to their cute little toes? But you know what I’ve realized (and finally made my peace with)? Cooking is not my thing—and that’s okay! I can do a lot of other things well, and my guys like slice-and-bake cookies as much as the homemade varieties. I know this because they’ve had the other kind at friends’ houses, and never once complained about mine. Either that or they’re too sweet to say anything! Sometimes we moms put so much pressure on ourselves! We look at the mom next door, or at the gym, and she seems more put-together, confident, and adept at multitasking than we’ll ever be. And we start to feel insecure and totally inferior. The truth is, each of us does a few things pretty well, and we stink at the other stuff. There’s no one who’s good at everything. So here’s my “Resigned, yet Joyful in the Gifts I do Have” conclusion to the aforementioned experiment. For the Dyer family, it is not only wise but physically safer, to have Pizza Hut, Olive Garden and Applebee’s on speed dial. Because when it comes to cooking, there’s definitely a science to it.