on my to-do list

I have been stressing over all the Christmas baking on my to-do list. Even with just the basics, it’s a daunting list. My days are already full with kids’ studies and routine household maintenance—I can barely summon the energy to add the time suck that is baking projects.

Then a couple nights ago, my husband took the kids to the church supper and I stayed home. (He skips church to burn things down, so I figured it was okay to skip church to bake things up.) With everyone gone and the extra time saved by not having to do supper prep and clean-up, the stage was set for a cookie baking evening. I poured myself a glass of wine, fixed a plate of cheese and crackers, and proceeded to roll, cut, bake, and ice my way into a sweet stupor. I listened first to John Cleese on Fresh Air, then the rest of a TED Radio Hour on courage (favorite quotes: “Freedom doesn’t exist if you don’t use it,” and “I can collaborate with my opponents to become better at what I do”), and then plunged into Serial. It was just the fix I needed.

The next day, however, in a misguided attempt to maintain momentum, I tried to replicate the evening of yore. I pulled up the next episode of Serial and started pounding out the recipes: fudge, peppermint bark, candied orange rinds, crack, etc. But every time I dared to actually start listening, a kid would appear. The audacity! One sweet girl actually wanted to talk to me and help cook—bless her heart—but I. just. couldn’t. I needed to be alone whydidnooneunderstandthat! To make matters worse, the fudge got too dry, the white chocolate chips didn’t melt properly (NEVER USE GHIRARDELLI WHITE CHIPS FOR MELTING BECAUSE THEY WON’T), and I felt ill from all the tasting. I was getting borderline ragey.

So I went for a walk. That helped. And then I ate a bushel of spinach for supper.

But two days later and I still feel bad for all my badness. It’s one thing to want the kids to leave me alone when they’re little and messy, but it’s quite another to want them out of my hair when they are actually able to help. Plus, they want to be with me. How cool is that? How dare I turn them away?

In all fairness to myself, I got my period the next day. That afternoon I wasn’t exactly at my hormonal best. But even so, I can do better. I can mind my manners and smile and be kind dammit.

Thank goodness there’s such a thing as Making Restitution.

PS. Photos brought to you by the Irrelevancy Board and the Department of Just Because.

This same time, years previous: how to have a dunging-out date, the quotidian (12.19.11), peppernuts, chocolate-dipped candied orange rinds, and walnut balls.


  • mommychef

    You are all making me feel so much better. Baking with mommy will never be a warm and fuzzy cherished memory for my children. I just can't do it without completely losing it. Oh, and I work at an international airport. I really don't like Christmas at all. Over-stressed mom/gate agent, over booked flights, over-excited kids, it's a long month. Seems wrong, but there it is.

  • Mama Pea

    How dare you turn kids away when they're being perfectly delightful and want to help? BECAUSE SOMETIMES MOTHERS/WIVES NEED TIME ALONE!! Of course, you know that because of the way we've been programmed, needing time alone and asking for (or demanding it) brings on heavy, heavy guilt which makes most of us feel worse than if we'd (once again) sacrificed that alone time we need so desperately.

    Anything else ya wanna know?

    P.S. Loved the pictures.

  • Margo

    This sounds so familiar. I read part of a book called Overwhelmed (it was good but I was too busy to finish it – hahahahah) and she said women have three spheres: work, homelife, and HOLIDAYS. That in addition to everything they are running, they have now have to add HOLIDAYS. So I mostly step out of the hoopla and my sanity is so much better and if people in my family want more merry-making, they can make it themselves. I think I have made 3 tiny batches of Christmas cookies in December.

  • Rebecca

    I figure if my kids learn nothing else from me, they'll learn how to apologize. I mean, I have to do it so much. ( Baking while people chat at me is my idea of hell's own torture. Sorry. Sorry.)

  • Starr

    ha, lovely photos.

    Just ordered that book "What If". My husband is thrilled (he's a fan of the guy's work), and I got it for almost free with all my no-rush shipping credits from Amazon!

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