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Ketchup Is a Vegetable: And Other Lies Moms Tell Themselves
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Ketchup Is a Vegetable: And Other Lies Moms Tell Themselves

4.5 12
by Robin O'Bryant

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If you don't have anything nice to say about motherhood, then… read this book. Robin O'Bryant offers a no holds barred look at the day to day life of being a mother to three, running a household and the everyday monotony of parenting. It's not always pretty but it's real. Whether she's stuffing cabbage in her bra… dealing with defiant yet determined


If you don't have anything nice to say about motherhood, then… read this book. Robin O'Bryant offers a no holds barred look at the day to day life of being a mother to three, running a household and the everyday monotony of parenting. It's not always pretty but it's real. Whether she's stuffing cabbage in her bra… dealing with defiant yet determined daughters… yelling at the F.B.I... or explaining the birds and the bees to her preschooler… you're sure to find dozens of humorous and relatable situations. From the creator of Robin's Chicks, one of the South's most popular blogs on motherhood, misunderstandings and musings, comes a collection of essays that will not only make you laugh and cry, but realize that you're not alone in your journey.
Sit back and relax, pour yourself some "mommy juice," throw a fresh diaper on your baby and deadbolt the bedroom door to keep your kids out… because once you start reading you'll be too busy wiping away tears of laughter to wipe anybody's butt.

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
★ 03/03/2014
O’Bryant’s terrific collection of sketches about motherhood will make readers laugh and think. Besides O’Bryant (Second Helping), author of the humor column and blog Robin’s Chicks, her three daughters are the stars, with husband Zeb appearing as wonderful, intelligent, yet still frequently inept partner. Youngest daughter Sadie is full of sweetness, while middle sister Emma is “uncanny in her ability to seek, destroy, and then cover her tracks” and might have “a bright future with Cirque de Soleil or as a cat burglar.” Oldest daughter Aubrey is always ready with tough questions, as when she spots her father in the bathroom: “You an ele-pant, Daddy?” Sunday School and appeals to the Lord crop up, but these stories will appeal to readers from any background. Besides her candor about bodily parts and functions, O’Bryant admits to having “the mouth of a sailor” as well as occasionally treating herself to a bit of “Mommy Juice.” Some passages would make great stand-up comedy, like her chapter on road trips and her five-day pedicure instructions, but the author also provides keen observations, helpful suggestions (cabbage leaves to stop milk flow, anyone?), and considerable wisdom. Parents will find O’Bryant’s book, like parenting itself, to be “freakin’ awesome.” (Apr.)
From the Publisher

“A cheeky, amusing motherhood memoir.” —Kirkus Reviews
Kirkus Reviews
An inside look at mothering three small children. For most parents, O'Bryant's (A Second Helping: A Collection of Popular Columns, 2013, etc.) humorous, offbeat and nonglitzy examination of her life as a mother of three girls will feel normal. Readers without children may wonder how the human race has survived as long as it has. Babies, breast-feeding and boobs play major roles in the narrative. "I have a fascination and fixation with boobs, not just my own," writes the author. "I am enthralled by your boobs just as much as I am my very own." Her Big Berthas feature prominently in many of the sassy and outrageous moments she relates, whether trying to breast-feed her youngest daughter in the family car or the struggles she had to feed her first newborn, who refused to latch on. O'Bryant brings the nitty-gritty, often taboo subjects of personal body functions to new heights as sweat, body fat and vomit all play roles—as does poop, whether from a child or adult, in all its various shapes, sizes and moments of expulsion. Whether going shopping, attending PTA meetings, or traveling long distances to visit family and friends, each episode is full of the unconventional behavior of three rambunctious daughters and the mother who struggles to keep pace. Although the baby talk of her daughters is age-appropriate, some readers may tire of some of the childish speech—e.g., "But Momma, I wub her, and I want to pway wif her." Nonetheless, these behind-the-scenes observations of one woman's version of motherhood dispel the oftentimes gussied-up descriptions of blissfully raising a child while providing much-needed comic relief for other parents struggling to survive. "All the screaming, dirty diapers, tantrum throwing, and sleepless nights are worth it," writes the author. "It is worth every heartache and tear we shed as mothers." A cheeky, amusing motherhood memoir.

Product Details

St. Martin's Press
Publication date:
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5.40(w) x 8.10(h) x 0.70(d)

Read an Excerpt




Birth Control? Yes, Please

I should have been on the beach with my kids, building sand castles and frolicking in the ocean. (Okay, yelling at them to stop eating sand and getting sunburned.) I should have been packing a picnic to enjoy in one of hundreds of parks in the Charleston area, a picnic my children would have totally ignored while they cried for another child’s Happy Meal, but still. I should have been at our neighborhood pool, providing first aid the teenage lifeguards were incapable of rendering themselves while praying one of my children didn’t poop in the pool. I should have been anywhere but where I was—sitting on the toilet doubled over with stomach cramps.

I was eleven weeks pregnant and, ahem, a little backed up.

I was stuck on the toilet as my four-year-old and two-year-old had free rein of the house. The amount of destruction Aubrey and Emma are capable of under adult supervision is astounding, but I was going to be here for a while, and they were running rampant through my house. I was so consumed with my stomach cramps that I didn’t even have time to be properly terrified at what was probably going on in the next room.

My legs were just starting to go numb from loss of circulation from sitting on the toilet seat for so long when Aubrey, my oldest, came running into the bathroom.

“Momma, what are you doing?”

“I’m trying to go potty, Aubrey.”

“Ohhhhh, it’s taking a long time, huh, Momma?”

“Yes, it is.”

“Do you need help, Momma?”

“No, honey…” I trailed off as another wave of stomach cramps and nausea swept over me. Aubrey saw my pain as an open door and yelled, “Mommy, can I have some candy?”

“If you can reach it in the pantry you can have whatever you want.”

She ran out of the room as fast as her little feet would carry her, before I could change my mind, and I heard her yell to her sister, “Momma said we could have candy! Come on, Emma!”

What the hell had I been thinking when I decided to have another baby? It always seemed like a good idea until the nausea hit, which for me usually starts the day I pee on a stick and continues twenty-four hours a day until I hit the thirteen-week mark. My morning sickness had gotten progressively worse with each of my pregnancies. And now, I was pregnant, in charge of two toddlers, and even the slightest movement made me want to barf up my toenails. My husband was at work, all of my family was a good ten-hour drive away, and since we had recently moved again, I didn’t have a single friend I could call. Not one I could discuss my bowel habits with, anyway.

I had never dealt with this particular pregnancy symptom before, and I was at a loss. I had tried everything I knew to do as a nurse … drinking fluids, eating prunes, taking stool softeners. I knew what the next step was, and I was horrified. My husband and I have been through a lot together, but we are definitely a “poop with the door closed” kind of couple.

This pregnancy had brought me to a new low. I yelled from my throne for one of the girls to bring me the phone and dialed my husband’s number.

“Hey! ’Sup?” he asked cheerfully.

I started sobbing as I uttered words I never thought I would say to the man I love. “I need you to bring me an enema.”

I couldn’t believe I had actually said the words out loud. But there was no way I could load two kids into car seats and wrangle them through a pharmacy to purchase what I needed. I waited in the bathroom while Aubrey and Emma sat on the edge of the bathtub eating Pop-Tarts and staring at me doubled over on the toilet.

I heard Zeb’s car pull in the driveway and almost cried again when he opened the bathroom door with a bag from our drugstore in his hand.

“Do you need some help?” he asked.

“Yes, take your kids and let me be sick by myself. And please, please don’t ever get me pregnant again,” I said. I snatched the bag out of his hand, pushed all three of my family members out of the bathroom, and locked the door behind them.

There are a lot of things I said I would never do when I had kids. I swore I would never say, “Because I said so,” “Don’t you make me pull this car over!” or “You just wait until your daddy gets home!” I would never “let myself go,” have petrified French fries on the floor of my car, or wear pajama pants to the grocery store, and I would never, ever drive a minivan. The only one of those things I’ve stuck to is not driving the minivan, but it’s not by choice. I fantasize about my own minivan on a daily basis, complete with automatic sliding doors, enough cargo space to haul a dead body (you never know, right?), and stale fries on the floor.

I used to think I wanted four kids. This was, of course, before I had one and realized how much work was involved. I was convinced at eighteen years old that I would have four perfect little stair-steps, all exactly two years apart; two boys and two girls. (And, yes, I was a little type A.)

I heard people talk about how hard it was to be a parent, but I babysat all the time. Being a babysitter and being a mom are practically the same thing, right?

I thought I knew. I had no idea. The thing you can’t explain to someone who doesn’t have children is how constant being a parent actually is. It is more than twenty-four hours a day, seven days a week … if that’s even possible.

Children, toddlers especially, have boundless energy with which they can torture their parents. Hell, if all I had to do all day was color, watch Blue’s Clues, eat a snack, and nap, I’d have boundless energy, too. But, no, I am the one getting out the crayons, trying to keep my children from consuming crayons, picking up broken crayons, and putting away the crayons. (And while I’m on the subject, why don’t those folks at Crayola either add some vitamins and minerals to their product or make them taste bad? My kids love eating them, and I’m tired of telling them no and having to buy more. Put up or shut up, Crayola. Fortify them or make them taste bad. This isn’t rocket science.)

Unless you want your children to be completely stinking rotten, not only do you have to tell them no on a regular basis, you have to mean it and to be ready and willing to back it up. All the energy they conserve while napping, snacking, and playing is ammunition to defeat us, their parents, who have been busy behind the scenes keeping the house from falling apart. Even though you are exhausted, you have to win. Once you have thrown down the gauntlet and made a rule, if your child breaks it 200 times in one day, you have to correct them 201 times.

Now, I’ll be the first one to admit to occasionally ignoring bad behavior. If my two oldest are in another room, making a mess without cleaning up one they have already made, and I am actually getting something done, such as cooking dinner or doing laundry, I may have occasionally pretended I couldn’t hear them so I could finish the task at hand and dealt with their bad behavior after I was finished. You say, “Lazy parenting.” I say, “Priorities, priorities, priorities.”

I do deal with the behavior. I just act shocked when I walk into their room, like I didn’t realize what was going on. I also recognize that I can’t keep this up forever because they will eventually figure it out. But for now, a mom’s gotta do what a mom’s gotta do.

And have you ever attempted reasoning with a toddler? Even explaining to them why their behavior is wrong can be exhausting.

“But why, Momma? But why?”

I have tried and tried and tried to be patient, to be an attentive parent, to answer each “why” with love and long suffering … to avoid the phrase I detested so much as a child: “Because I said so.”

“GIRLS! Quit jumping on the bed!”

“Why, Mommy, why?”

“Because it’s dangerous.”

“Why, Mommy, why?”

“Because you could fall and break your arm or your neck or impale yourself on the posts sticking up out of the footboard…”

“Why, Mommy, why?”

“Because you are jumping on the bed…”

“Why, Mommy, why?”

“Because you are being bad. Stop. Jumping. On. The. Bed.”

“Why, Mommy, why?”


It’s unfortunate, but it really is the only phrase that can stop one of these maddening conversations in its tracks.

Another thing I knew nothing about was the selective hearing children seem to experience as they enter their preschool years. Anything you say to another adult (especially regarding another adult) can be repeated verbatim by your children. Anything you say directly to your child must automatically be repeated—at least twice.

“Emma, stop unrolling the toilet paper all over the bathroom,” I’ll say clearly, standing less than fourteen inches away from her.

“HUH? What you said, Momma?” she’ll ask with one hand cupped around her ear and leaning in … as if she actually cannot hear me.

Their selective hearing will often lead to my wondering if I actually spoke out loud or if I was just really concentrating on what I was going to say.

“Test one, two … testing … is this thing on?” I’ll say as I pretend to check a microphone, which usually leads to zero response from anyone in my house and occasionally makes me think that they really can hear, but I apparently don’t know how to make words come out of my mouth.

I just didn’t realize B.C. (Before Children) how much work it takes to maintain some sort of order in your house. You are constantly cleaning, battling for good manners and good behavior and refereeing fights between siblings, trying to teach values and spend quality time with each child and your spouse. It is exhausting. (Quick soapbox moment here for you “animal people”—having a pet, even a dog, is not the same as having children. Case in point: you can lock your “baby” in a cage or take it outside, lock the door, and ignore it for a few hours. Parents cannot, unless we would like a cage of our very own.)

Even with all of this, when I was pregnant with my third child I still wasn’t sure I was “done.” After I had my second child, I didn’t feel like our family was complete; it felt like someone was missing. And, to be honest, I was worried I would be sad when my baby-making days were over. My husband was satisfied with his three daughters, but throughout my third pregnancy I speculated about what would happen if I wanted another child and my husband did not. I had looked forward to being pregnant and having babies my whole life and wondered if I would be depressed to say good-bye to those days and begin a new chapter with my family.

All my concerns about wanting more children quickly vaporized when I was introduced to life as a mother to three. As soon as I held Sadie Plum in my arms, I knew my whole family was present and accounted for. I breathed a huge sigh of relief as all the pressure and expectations I had placed on myself for so long faded away.

I began the cleansing process of giving away maternity clothes and baby items as Sadie outgrew them. The idea of getting into shape and finally being able to replace my very dated wardrobe was intoxicating. As soon as a pair of pants or a shirt was deemed too large for me, it immediately went into my giveaway pile.

Things at my house were crazy but fulfilling. I loved being a mother to my three daughters, but I was still quite positive my baby-making days were behind me and smiled at myself in the mirror as I took my birth control pill every night.

Until one evening I stumbled into the bathroom to take my pill and couldn’t find them. It was a Friday evening, and I was exhausted from a week of entertaining my children in the summer heat. I dug around in my drawer and in my jewelry box, just in case a “little helper” had stashed them somewhere, before I finally gave up and decided to go to bed and look for them in the morning.

Of course, the next morning I was woken up as Aubrey, my four-year-old, and Emma, my two-year-old, wrestled for the spot next to me in my bed and, in the process, almost threw me onto the floor. It was two days later when I finally remembered I still hadn’t found my birth control pills and began frantically searching my bathroom.

I called a family meeting.

“Everyone in Mommy and Daddy’s bathroom RIGHT NOW!”

Aubrey and Emma walked calmly into the bathroom, followed by their sweet daddy.

“What’s up?” he asked.

“Aubrey and Emma were in our bathroom the other day playing with my makeup, and I haven’t been able to find my birth control since then…”

I didn’t have to say one more word. My husband transformed from a laid-back, fly-by-the-seat-of-your-pants kind of guy to a drill sergeant.

“You will find Mommy’s medicine and you will not STOP until you find it! Do you understand?”

Aubrey spoke up. “Oh! It’s okay, Mommy, you can do it! Just be very patient and keep on looking.”

My husband said, “I don’t think you understand. No one is leaving this room until we find Mommy’s medicine.”

“Oh,” she replied.

As soon as Emma realized this was not a test but serious business, she opened the cabinet and plucked my medicine from its hiding spot.

“Here you go, Mommy!” she said proudly.

I couldn’t have been happier to see those pills if I was stranded in the Sahara and someone offered me a Cherry Limeade from Sonic—one of those route 44 ones, the ones that are big enough to swim in. It might be time to start researching other birth control options. They couldn’t find and hide an IUD from me … could they?


Copyright © 2011, 2014 by Robin O’Bryant

Meet the Author

Robin O'Bryant is a writer and stay-at-home-mom to three daughters born within four years. She finally figured out where babies come from and got herself under control. Robin survives the hilarity of motherhood by making fun of herself in her self-syndicated humor column, Robin's Chicks and on her blog by the same name. She tweets compulsively andover shares daily on Facebook as Robin Wiley O'Bryant. Come point and laugh.
Ketchup Is a Vegetable is her first book.

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Ketchup Is A Vegetable: And Other Lies Moms Tell Themselves 4.6 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 12 reviews.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
MS Wiley's book will have you in stitches! Lol funny til the heartwarming end. I recommend it to anyone who has ever had children.
MeredithS More than 1 year ago
Robin has an amazing talent for being able to tell the cold, hard truths of motherhood (the things you would rather not think about!) but making you laugh so hard in the process, you'll be begging for Poise pads.  Fantastic treat!
Diane0 More than 1 year ago
I loved this funny, funny book about the insanity of raising kids. Robin O'Bryant is a talented author who knows that humor is sometimes the only thing that can keep you going, and she is willing to share that with her readers. We've all had those moments as parents when we are just sure we're raising perverted little anti-social creatures who will NOT make us proud. Every essay in this collection is a laugh-out-loud, call your best friend and read a few paragraphs so she can laugh too kind of book. I can hardly wait to get "A Second Helping", which is more of the same. Do yourself a favor and order this one today. You'll find yourself re-reading it often to reassure yourself that you are not alone. And, like Anne Lamott and Celia Rivenbark, she's also inspiring to those of us who are not "perfect parents" and know it.
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carolineyk More than 1 year ago
I was excited to start this book and was using it as a light refresher between some heavy book club reading. I enjoyed the actual (often hilarious) situations and dialogue the author found herself in with her three daughters. I chuckled out loud quite a few times. I especially loved the road trip from hell with a sick husband scenario. However, the author changes tone and the later parts of the book wane into her own musings about family and God which I didn't know I had signed up for and I found quite irritating and moralistic at times.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Excellent charater development. Sincere and realistic humor. After reading it on my electronic reader, I purchased three copies as gifts.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I thoroughly enjoyed this book. I am not a mom, but certainly hear stories of what it is like to be one. The author's take on the subject is funny, quirky and sometimes brings a tear to your eye, although I laughed a lot too. I have recommended it to sisters and friends. It's the kind of book that you read at the beach or between heavier books when you just want something lighthearted. I would certainly read others by this author.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Cute and well-written. I have to admit that I didn't know what sort of book it was, and I'm sure I would have enjoyed it more if I had. In any case, I found it worthy. Enjoy.
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