Saturday, March 16, 2013

What Mothers in Books Do

The other day I fulfilled my children's fantasies by saying to them when they came home from school ("alone" - they waited in the hallway while I entered the apartment and then they came in without me), "Welcome home.  Would you like some milk and cookies?  I just baked some."  I even donned an apron for some June-Cleaver-esque authenticity. They had recently asked me why I didn't do this, saying it is "what mothers in books do."

That got me thinking.  What books had they seen this in?  Granted, we read a lot of classics, many of which are old-fashioned, even dated in certain ways.  In the Betsy-Tacy series, the mothers are constantly offering the children homemade baked goods (although sometimes they've been baked by the "hired girl").  In the Ramona books, I think Ramona mentions that she'll miss the afterschool cookies when her mother starts working (and becomes "liberated" as Beezus says)... but I don't remember any scene before that where her mother actually gave her homemade cookies as an afterschool snack.  I don't remember the B is for Betsy books well enough but certainly one could imagine Betsy's mother baking cookies.  When asked, my 5-year-old cited the families in the Riverside Kids books.  Of course, none of those mothers (except for Ramona's, at times), worked. But when I asked the girls what was different, why those mothers baked cookies, they said, "Because they didn't know then that they weren't healthy."  So there I was, making a feminist mountain out of a nutritional molehill.

I also found it interesting that they said this is "what mothers in books do," not "what mothers do."  So they instinctively differentiated... between what exactly?  Fact and fiction?  The past and the present?

What's funny too is that I bake.  A lot.  But they were fixated on three things: the baked item had to be cookies (preferably chocolate chip), they had to be offered with milk, and they had to be offered after school.  I even let them each have an unprecedented-in-our-house two on the grounds that the saying is "milk and cookies" not "milk and cookie."

In any event, those mothers in books, whoever they are, knew what they were doing.  Our milk and cookies were delicious.


  1. Mothers in books! I love that! Well, now we know that your children are honing in on the details ;) and... cookies and milk sound absolutely divine right about now.

  2. This is hilarious. It's true that if someone asked me what book mothers do I would answer that they bake chocolate chip cookies! But now that I think about it moms in the chapter books that have been published more recently don't do that anymore!