If you can't stand the heat

It's amazing to me that in spite of all life's lessons heretofore, I continue to believe in fairy tales. I repress all previous self knowledge and tell myself that something like making sugar cookies with my child will be a fun, satisfying, indeed happy memory for years to come.

Why do I insist on disregarding my own goal-oriented, task driven nature which is unable to really live in and enjoy the moment? I'm just not one of those people who can throw chocolate sprinkles around the kitchen with glee, working with grace and calm smiles with babies and cats underfoot. In fact my own good humor is inversely proportionate to time spent in the kitchen.

I think it's because I really, really WANT to be this kind of mother--one who just rolls with all the punches and back aches with a peaceful sense of calm, or at the very worst, a little sigh. I keep trying to make myself into this person.

I probably shouldn't have used a Martha Stewart recipe. She manages to turn even sugar cookies into rocket science. There were all these secret, hidden steps which turned the project into an all day event. Poor Ethan just wanted to get to the cookie cutting part and I had to keep telling him, "Ah, ok after I put the dough in the freezer for 15 more minutes...", or some variation on this theme.

Ethan kept wanting to "help" me out and of course, that was the point, right? Well, our kitchen is not really a place I feel comfortable sharing with another human. It's so small that I often find myself in the middle of a culinary endeavor, twirling helplessly around and around with a hot pan or a mixing bowl in my hands, trying to find a place to put it down. If I put a chair in this space which would be required for Ethan to reach the counter and therefore help, I wouldn't be able to access a good portion of my work area. Believe me, I've tried it. And I do maintain some working memory.

Add to this mix the fact that dinnertime began to roll around and, yes, I know, most people can handle this juggling act and so, I was determined, could I. I did it, I did it all. I made dinner and I made sugar cookies and they came out great except for the frosting which tasted like chalk but I was not a very friendly person in the process. I became angrier and more irritable and a part of me sat marvelling outside my own body, watching in horror this awful monster mother who snapped and yelled and fell apart at the slightest provocation.

I wonder sometimes, what it will take, short of a strong, illegal substance to make me relax enough to make a happy memory for my children.

And below you can see (if you look real closely) the beauty of the evening represented in Ethan's Kiddley photo of the week for the theme, "Yummy".


Brenda Jo said...

After a few more years of these memories, you'll remember to tune out Martha! If you just do easy stuff with your kids, they'll remember your laughter even if they forget the craft. Oh, and forgive yourself right now, or I'll have to...

Anonymous said...

so you got one too, eh? Hmm, weird.

anyway, why in the world did you put that comment WAY back in october's post? Good thing I get new comments emailed to me or I'd never know you'd commented :-)

kk said...

Ha ha, I loved the part about being outside your body and looking on in horror. It's really like that sometimes...in order to survive, you have to tune out loud humming of the same bar over and over, or incessant sreaming etc...and switch off, crawl inside a deep dark hole inside of yourself and be calm---or it's give in, and surrender to the chaos, and hope you don't lose your mind in the process. Haha..maybe we should write a book together. What would the title be?

Claire said...

Sorry but the mental image of you twirling around in your kitchen like a domestic ballerina made me smile. Very well written. Do you MEAN to make us enjoy your misery?

A pox on Martha.

Janzelle said...

Pillsbury refrigerated cookie dough is your friend.

Martha is not.

Doughboy good.

Ex-con-make-you-feel-like-a-piece-of-crap bad.

Never forget it.

Here's to happy memories!

ljmax said...

Yes, I think I'll go with the doughboy next time...thanks guys.

Jill said...

Oh, my goodness, Liane. I can so totally relate. Chloe is always wanting to watch me cook, and though we have a fairly big counter, Tucker always wants to get on the chair with her and they both wreak havoc with my cooking utensils and make a mess and stretch my patience to its limits. I just want to conquer the cooking, not make an experience of it! Thank you for being honest about your weakness. I'll be praying for you!

Anonymous said...

I'm with Janzelle there, Martha is of the devil. In fact, she might very well have made a step by step instruction booklet for him about how to become who he currently is :-)

the Joneses said...

Yes, our warm kitchen memories usually end up edgier than planned. Darren reminds me, "Kids like the process, not the result." Right. Stuart, get your hands out of the flour anyway!

I'm probably a little closer to the type of person you think you ought to be. Meanwhile, I've gone my whole life thinking I should be task-oriented, Accomplishing sort of person. Probably some commentary on human nature here.

-- SJ

Loreo said...

Liane, for the first time in my life, recently, I caved in and bought precut, cop-out, store-bought Christmas cookie dough with ghastly frosting. What an incompetent, busy, "working mother" thing to have done. That stuff WAS a friend. No mixing, no flour, no extra dishes. Kids had fun with minimal Mommy interaction/irritability. Do you ever see Martha in a magazine or a show making cookies with 3 of her own young children? I thought not.