Operation Hamburger: Anything Daddy Does, I Can Do Too

by Melissa Runde
Originally Published: 

Well. That’s all I needed to hear. I dug deep down, mustered up all of my feminist indignation, and decided that there was absolutely no reason that I could not take the bull by the horns and grill up a few simple burgers.

Let me be perfectly clear. I do not even know how to turn on the outside grill. No joke.

However, I was undeterred. I had three things that were all a woman in this day and age needed: a gas stove, a cast-iron grill pan, and Google. After trolling some sites to check out how one uses a cast-iron grill pan on a gas stove and how to determine the done-ness of a hamburger, I figured I was ready. During the research portion of this project, I ran across several warnings about grease fires and flare-ups, so I did a quick check to make sure that the fire extinguisher was at the ready (but hidden under the sink, lest my children sense any weakness or doubt regarding my suitability for this mission).

Before beginning, I set some basic goals for Operation Hamburger. Unlike many tactical situations, however, these were things I wanted to avoid, not things I wanted to accomplish. They included:

Burning the house down.

Poisoning the children with salmonella.

Creating our own hockey pucks.

Torching any part of my body. Like, at all.

Burning the house down. (I know I already said that one, but it was kind of a biggie.)

As I gathered the necessary ingredients and began to make the beef patties, I reflected on these goals and how they have changed since the day I learned I was going to become a parent. My husband and I had difficulty conceiving, so when—after a long, difficult, and painful journey—we discovered we were expecting twin boys, I was so overcome with gratitude that I immediately set out to be the most perfect, fabulous, gracious, wholesome, loving, amazing mother I could be.

I was serious about this. I was going to breastfeed for at least two years, use cloth diapers, make my own baby food, teach my children to read by the age of three, ban all television, do arts and crafts projects with them every day, read to them every night, never raise my voice, volunteer for every class party and project, keep the house spotless and the fridge filled with only organic foods, grow my own vegetables, and whistle while I worked.

Fast forward nine years and one (surprise!) little girl later. All that crap is totally, completely, 100 percent out the window. I made it exactly six weeks breastfeeding each of the three kids. I won’t even discuss the cloth diapering thing, and jarred baby food was so darn EASY. My boys read by age six, watched Baby Einstein tapes from the minute they could focus on the TV, my house looks like a bomb hit it, and the amount of food those children consume is so astonishing that while we could buy organic groceries, it would likely mean residing in a cardboard box at the dump. Arts and crafts are way too messy (Play-Doh and glitter are the bane of my existence), I killed the two tomato plants I attempted to grow last year because I forgot to water them, and by the time my children go to bed I am so happy to see them get there and so exhausted that reading is out of the question. I volunteer once a week in each of the boys’ classes—it took me four years to get around to doing that, and truthfully I count the seconds every week until I can get out of that madhouse. While I pick up piles of dirty socks, navigate through cords that belong to the various Kindles and DS’s that I bless every day because they provide a little peace and quiet, and referee the endless bickering, my whistling is more of an ear-piercing screech that the kids refer to as “the Mom scream.”

So here we are, with me in front of the stove, preparing to cook burgers and simply aiming for a house that is not a pile of ash by the end of the evening, body parts that are completely intact, and children who are not in the emergency room. All of those lofty goals have boiled down to these three, and if I can achieve them, I will consider my day a roaring success.

Aside from a short but intense panicky moment when flames sprang up after flipping one of the burgers, the dinner preparation went without incident. The extinguisher stayed tucked safely under the counter. The burgers were deemed “actually pretty good” by the hardened under-10 food critics, and everyone went to bed with nary a smoke alarm being activated or a projectile vomiting experience.

A ROARING success, I tell you.

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