I signed up to bring cookies to my one-year-old daughter’s Thanksgiving luncheon knowing full well that baking on a weeknight would be stressful. But I love to bake, and the teachers love when I bake for them. I do it as often as I can, because God bless them for taking care of our munchkins all day, every day.
It was 8 p.m. by the time I started pulling ingredients out of the pantry to make cowboy cookies. I searched high and low for baking soda, but we were completely out. I vaguely remembered using the rest of a box to clean up a pet mess. I silently cursed the cats and dog and all of the messes they make.
Pretty much every cookie worth its salt (ha!) has baking soda in it, so I was SOL. It was too late to run to the store or bother our friends next door for some.
“Can you use Bisquick?” Darren said. “It already has baking soda in it.”
I thought this was a good hack and found a recipe for Bisquick cinnamon monkey bread to make after the kids were in bed. It wasn’t difficult, but it took a lot of time to roll each ball of dough, coat it in cinnamon sugar, and arrange it in a loaf pan. The consistency didn’t seem quite right, so I made a wetter version and a drier version.
It’ll be nice to have some extra for breakfast and bring some to work, I thought.
Well, neither scenario happened, because the wet version tasted like wet Bisquick covered in cinnamon sugar, and the dry version tasted like dry Bisquick covered in cinnamon sugar. Unless I screwed something up when I doubled everything, this recipe should not be out in the world!
I felt deflated. I’d tried so hard to make it work. I knew that a lot of the other parents would be bringing homemade side dishes and desserts, but it just wasn’t going to happen for me this time.
It’s okay to buy the cookies, I told myself.
I repeated it again when I stopped by the Whole Foods bakery before the luncheon and picked up a box of chocolate chip cookies. And again when I arrived at the school and saw the pies, cobblers, and homemade chocolate chip cookies that the other parents had brought. I felt so sad about my failed baking experiment that I almost turned around and went back to work.
I know that comparing yourself to others pretty much guarantees that you’ll be unhappy. I wouldn’t judge another parent for bringing something store-bought instead of homemade, because we are all doing the best we can, but I hold myself to a stricter and often unreasonable standard. And I really just wanted to contribute.
The funny thing was that there were so many other desserts in the luncheon pile that mine wouldn’t have stood out even if it had turned out beautifully. And the store-bought cookies ended up being eaten more than some of the homemade desserts that were still covered and didn’t have serving utensils with them. Plus, the bakery cookies were actually pretty delicious (I ate two).
Most of all, seeing my little girl’s face light up when I walked into the room unexpectedly reminded me what was really important — and why we parents brave the unbridled chaos of the preschool Thanksgiving luncheon. She climbed all over me, using my leggings as a napkin, and when her dad arrived she beamed even more. She didn’t care a bit that I’d bought the cookies. Having Mama and Daddy eat with her was more than enough.
Friends, it’s okay to buy the cookies. It really is.
what’s fueling me
A few of the talented women I know have released books in the past month:
The Grasping Root, by Margaret Pinard – a historical novel set in 1824 Nova Scotia, book 2 of the Remnants series
Start, Love, Repeat: How to Stay in Love with Your Entrepreneur in a Crazy Start-Up World, by Dorcas Cheng-Tozun – a practical guide to building a healthy relationship when your partner is an entrepreneur
Heating and Cooling: 52 Micro-Memoirs, by Beth Ann Fennelly – a new genre of poetry + narrative nonfiction, a collection of vivid snapshots from the author’s life
I’m going to dedicate a shelf to these books, to inspire me to add my own to the collection. I’ve ordered some copies of the Reschool Yourself manuscript in book form from CreateSpace and am in the process of researching and querying agents. It’s slow going because I have only around an hour each morning, but it’s going.
I felt buoyed by this Happier in Hollywood podcast interview with Jenna Fischer, who talks about her new book, The Actor’s Life: A Survival Guide. She struggled for eight years before being cast in The Office and talks about feeling like no one would ever notice her. She urges artists to keep trying and assures them that they’ll find their fit eventually. It takes fifty no’s to get one yes (like I always say… ).
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