Friday, June 18, 2010

Guilt and Brownies

Today is the last day of school!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! So yesterday, I was up at 3:00am on Thursday morning making brownies and chocolate pound cake for the end of year class parties. Why so early? Because the night before, Wednesday, when I had planned my day so carefully to include doing everything that needed to be done including getting home in time to bake several batches of brownies and some cakes before dinner, my tire blew out. I was driving home from work, felt my car lurch and when I got out, I heard a whooshing sound as the air came out of my tire and it flattened like a pancake right there in the middle of the road. I was cursing and talking to myself and anyone who saw me probably thought I was a crazy homeless person, except for the bag and shoes. Calling AAA and getting the tire swapped out for the spare ate into most of my day and any hope of accomplishing the long list of to do’s that have been weighing on me, was gone. At first I cried…really, it was pathetic when I think about it. There are people hungry, losing their homes, so desperate they’d cause harm to themselves and their families and I’m crying over a blown tire. Then I got mad, whined to myself, “This isn’t fair! Why me? Why today? This is the last thing I needed!” I got the girls home and was in a foul mood. I tossed my bags onto the counter and pulled out the pile of things I had to get done and realized I would be up all night if I attempted to do them. So I gave up. I said, “I’m going to be the bad mommy who even though she signed up to bring in treats for the party, is going to flake.” I’d never done a mommy school flake before. I’ve either thrown myself into helping, or made a firm decision to abstain. But to say I would do something for school and then just back out – would have been a first for me. But I didn’t care. I was firm in my resolve that just this once, I’d let something go, I didn’t have to be all things to all people. I convinced myself that my daughters wouldn’t care if I didn’t make anything for them to bring in and that in the whole scheme of things, they wouldn’t be sitting up in a therapist’s office twenty years from now complaining about what a lame mother they had who always embarrassed them in school by flaking out. Trust me, there are other ways I embarrass them at school – walking them in daily, demanding kisses in front of their cool friends, singing Gloria Gaynor’s disco classic, “I Will Survive” (at full volume, in public, at school) anytime my girls complain about having to do something they deem horrible. But I didn’t think a missed brownie would cause them much pain.

I was up all night worrying about the brownies. I really didn’t want to be the mommy flake and mostly, I didn’t want my girls growing up feeling like I didn’t care enough to do that one small thing for them and their class. Ridiculous, I know, but I tossed and turned in bed for about two hours until I finally just crawled out from under the covers at 3:00am, went into the kitchen and pulled out the baking pans. I made some coffee while I baked and an hour and a half later I had about 48 mini brownie bites and a chocolate pound cake on the counter. I poured myself another cup of coffee and went into my office to write while the goodies cooled.

I realize all my emotions weren’t about a brownie at all. They were about feeling pulled in so many different ways and not feeling like I could give my best to any of them – home, work, or family. I felt guilty for not being the mom I wanted to be – the moms my children always point out at school who can stay for every assembly and put in a full work week volunteering in the classroom. But I can’t always do that. I do what I can, but I work. I like working, I like writing, and I like keeping what little of my sanity that I have left. If I devoted that much time at school as well they would have to carry me out in a straight jacket. But that being said, I had children to be a part of their lives, not to wedge them into mine. I wanted to make the brownies because it would make my children happy and show them that I cared about what they were doing at school and wanted to be a part of it. So I got up at 3:00am and baked them. My guilt assuaged, I went off to work and drank a third cup of coffee when I got there.

Afterschool, I threw myself into a chair, barely able to keep my eyes open while we ate dinner in front of the t.v. and Nicole and David yelled at the screen during the Lakers’ game. My youngest, Natalie, crawled up on my lap and kissed me on the cheek, saying, “Thanks for the brownies. Everybody loved them. There was only one left…I saved it for you.” Too bad I’m allergic to wheat because the brownie looked good and I wouldn't have felt the least bit guilty eating it.

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