Thursday, December 19, 2013

Can I interest you in a cookie?


So, I had a very different beginning to this whole motherhood/parenting thing than most.  Ty was only 2 ½ (Gavin 16 months) when he was diagnosed with a brain tumor.  For many reasons, we soon moved to Pawling, which was as suburban as I have ever lived.  The usual path might have led me to cupcakes and crayons, but Ty’s cancer didn’t allow for much of those activities.  I had a very different introduction to motherhood – and suburbia – but I so wanted to experience “normal” motherhood (whatever that means), even when I was in the trenches of his illness. 

Ty at the time we moved,  I could wrap myself up in those eyelashes!
At Christmas that first year, I was invited to a cookie swap.  I had no clue what that was, but I heard that wine and cookies were involved so naturally I was IN!  I was essentially alone in this town, and I was really looking forward to meeting some of my neighbors.  Couldn’t wait!

Soon I realized that I was going to have to bake some cookies.  While strolling through the supermarket with my best good boy (as we did every single day – thanks for the memories, Hannafords (or “Heiny-Farts” as me and Ty used to call it), I turned down the baking aisle and settled on a box mix for Raspberry Bars.  In hindsight, there might not be a more “grandma” cookie to pick, but I love ‘em.  Also in hindsight, a box mix is probably not the right call when it comes to a cookie swap – but I was a newbie. 

I started baking a couple of hours before I was supposed to be there.  Per my usual, I didn’t give myself much extra time for mistakes.  My first batch of cookies came out of the oven with an hour to spare for a shower and some makeup – what a treat – but they were completely ruined.  I miscalculated and used half the required amount of butter.  I ran back to Heiny-farts for another box and extra butter, whipped it up in no time and back in the oven it went.  Phew!  I can still do this!

The bars were piping hot when my friend came to pick me up.  I started wrapping up the tray when she looked at me cross-eyed and said, “What are you doing?”  I told her they were hot and I was just going to use the pan for serving instead of a platter.

“You don’t serve the cookies!” she told me.  “You swap them.  You have to set aside a bag of cookies for each attendee!  I think they are expecting ten people, so you should have ten packages of cookies to share.  Then you will be sent home with a variety of cookies from all of the other women there!” 

OMG.  I had pictured it totally different.  I imagined trays of cookies on display, women tasting them with wine in hand, and if you liked a particular cookie you could take a couple home with you, too (while I accidentally spilled my raspberry leftovers in the trash while no one's looking).  In a panic, I started scooping up my scorching hot raspberry bars into sheets of tin foil.  The jam was still completely melted and the bars were so hot, it was like I was pouring oatmeal from a ladle.  My friend was completely amused at my attempt.  After folding up a few tin foil beauties, I put them all in a brown paper bag and off we went. 

Did you know about the magic that is a cookie swap?  Because clearly, I had no idea.  A cookie swap has adorable bags with snowflakes on them, ribbons and customized paper cutout tags.  Each bag includes the recipe “from Cindy’s kitchen” on a doily or a laminated, hole-punched card.  I brought tin foil with globs of oatmeal inside.  The recipe was on the side of the box and involved a cup of water and some raspberry jam.  Bring on the wine.  Thank God all of my neighbors were kind as could be, and didn’t mind my ridiculous contribution (meanwhile, I made out like a bandit with an amazing assortment of Christmas treats!). 

Still, I refuse to accept defeat.  As you know, I am trying to reemerge as a “normal” mom, so I decided it was time that Gavin and I baked some Christmas cookies to bring to Nana’s for desert on Christmas Eve.  Year after year I get off the hook… I had a small baby, then two small babies, then Ty got sick… no one ever takes me up on my offer to bring a dish on the holidays.  I realize now that those life factors had nothing to do with it.  This, right here, is why they always say, “You can just bring the wine.  That would be a great help.” 
NAILED IT!
Behold.  Gavin and I made chocolate chip cookies from scratch last night.  We used red and green sugar sprinkles to be festive.  Gavin was excited for the first five minutes, then he hopped off the kitchen counter to play super heroes - totally leaving me hanging for the next hour.  Later he was excited to lick the bowl, then to eat a cookie when they were all done.  Yep, this is what childhood is supposed to be all about.  But then he was too wired to go to sleep that evening and had a slight belly ache – not supposed to happen.  In reality, the final product was burnt on the bottom and tasted like cr*p.  Meanwhile, one of my best friends sends me a picture of this:
"This is what I made for Girl Scouts tonight."

Now this is worthy of Pinterest.  Pin it, Kelly!  It's totally adorable.  I will share that with every mom group I know!  You won’t even be able to keep up with all the cookie swaps on your calendar! 

So here I am, three years later, wondering why I was never invited to another cookie swap (I kid, I kid).  But really, I know the reason.  Whether or not Ty was ever diagnosed with cancer, I’m not sure I ever would have made cupcakes like Kelly.  This muddy puddles mom admits that I can barely even sit still to color with my son for more than 10 minutes.  I simply wasn’t born to be crafty, or to bake, or to prepare the perfectly balanced meal, or to iron, or to make candy apples or… but I can tell you all about bloodwork and what the results mean, changing the dressing on a g-tube, flushing a mediport, setting an alarm every four hours for medication, using a suction machine, treating bacterial versus viral infections, signs of intracranial pressure, and too much more. 

I wanted to be the mom with the awesome cookies.  The cookies that everyone begged me for the recipe year after year.  Instead, I became this mom, and no matter how it all turned out – I consider myself extremely blessed and lucky.  As we all are.   Love you all so much.  Just for fun, here's Gavin at Karate tonight.  I heard the teacher asking Gavin what was wrong with his belt (I can't ever tie it right) and he said, "My mommy didn't know how to do it." :)  We're getting there.  



29 comments:

  1. Loved this post Cindy! Look at it this way, you and Ty were put here for reason and cookie baking wasn't it. It was to help find a cure for pediatric cancer. Great story - thanks for sharing. PS. I find it easier to just go to the bakery and wrap them in baggies.....no one is on to me yet! Thanks for all the wonderful post/stories. You and your family are amazing :)

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    1. Love your post tonight and think that maybe your role in all of this would be to HOST the cookie swap. You provide the wine, cute take home cookie trays they can assemble assorted cookies on and printed holiday ziploc bags. It will be a win-win situation for all who attend!!

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  2. Beautiful posts..didn´t the invite you to any other cookies swaps??? that is so mean!!...
    Trying is the important thing ..I think life put you through more important challenges than cooking cookies...wich is fun though..when you are relax and want to be entertained, and of course in the right mood.

    May be now you have the time, but still not the mood.. cause is not yout thing. Who cares?? super heros are more fun for sure..

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  3. Cindy - I loved this post! It actually made me laugh out loud ("NAILED IT!) But more importantly, I felt happiness in your writing tonight - and for that I am grateful. Hope you are feelling more and more of those nights as you continue on without the love of your life. Wishing you all a wonderful Christmas... and looking forward to all the exciting events the TLC Foundation has planned for 2014.

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  4. Cindy this post cracked me up - I can just picture oatmeal & raspberry goop in tin foil. You aren't alone on this crafty-cookie business. Few of us are that coordinated. I remember the first time I hosted thanksgiving for my family - I saw this centerpiece Martha Stewart made on her show and I wanted to make it - my attempt ended up costing me a fortune in supplies and a parking ticket I got while getting said supplies and it looked like a pile of vegetables and flowers on the table that we then moved out of the way cause it took up too much room. Story of my life wrapped up in a centerpiece :). At least you have Gavin signed up for karate - I've been wanting to do that for Christopher for a year now....one of these days...

    Ps love that pic of Ty - eyelashes for days - such a beautiful face. Xoxox

    Donna

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  5. You are exactly who you are supposed to be Cindy and thousands of families and children and especially Ty and Gavin are so grateful for that. Merry Christmas to YOU cookies or no cookies.

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  6. PS. I have made the raspberry oatmeal goop. Oh, yes I have.

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  7. This post had me laughing so hard! :) Cindy you are an amazing mom and is exactly who you are meant to be.

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  8. With this being such a tough time of year, that was such a uplifting, and hysterical post! Your strength amazes me....I am so happy you are having less dark days. You and your family deserve happiness...

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  9. Cindy - I've been baking with my kids since they were 2 (as I did with my Mom) and yes I love those times BUT I forgot how to let go and just have silly fun until I was introduced to your blog. Now my cookies are less "perfect" and I enjoy them twice as much. We do what we're good at and our kids LOVE us for it and hopefully along the way we meet people like you that help us see our better selves. So keep baking if its fun and stop if it's not but most of all remember that all in all they love you becasue you are you.

    Nancy

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  10. Cindy, I can't bake or cook or do much of anything in the kitchen as well. I hate myself for that. Do I feel you? Ha. I feel like the worst mom ever when I scream on top of my lungs why my kids dont want to eat the food I serve them. Well, because it simply doesnt taste good. I suck as well. The fact that you actually knew what to buy for baking and to follow a recipe somewhat is a huge achievement. Who cares though about what other moms think. It only matters what you kids think about you. And they adore you. So screw the cookie baking, you were able to move mountains for your kids, your love for them is a recipe for all of us. As always, Gavin is the funniest boy ever. I find it for some reason that the second biys are always clowns while the first ones are just more soft and delicate. My boys are just the same.
    Missing your boy always and hoping that you will have the best holidays as your heart wold possibly allow.
    with love, the worst chef/baker/or anything craft related fellow mom Tatiana.

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  11. There is this "idea" of the "perfect mom"...you know the type: Betty Crocker, Martha Stewart, Chief Executive Officer, and Miss Universe all wrapped up in one human being. This pressure to be this impossibly perfect person in an imperfect world can be so distracting and suffocating. It keeps us from seeing the beauty and the magic in our own messy worlds. The way you have embraced and shared your motherhood journey is a big reason why I fell so in love with this little boy named Ty who has this incredible Supermom named Cindy. So whatever about mushy cookies. You taught us how to REALLY stop sweating the small stuff, and that in the mess lives the unfettered joy of childhood. That is why it just feels so natural to climb aboard the TLC Foundation train and ride it wherever it wants to go--because while there is a profoundly critical job to be done in defeating cancer, you still find a way to not lose sight of the hope and the celebration that comes with parenting. I am eternally grateful to you for opening my eyes and my heart, and getting my head right when it comes to how I approach the everyday challenges. xoxoxoxo

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  12. Thanks for the laugh, Cindy!! I bake pretty well, but I am not crafty AT ALL.

    You are a special Mom way beyond the cookies, you endured more than I could ever imagine, and you are still sane! That in itself is a HUGE accomplishment.

    And you have beautiful boys! Glad you are having more and more good moments.

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  13. Thanks for that post.

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  14. WONDERFUL, WONDERFUL, you are just WONDERFUL. God Bless you!!!!! Those that come in contact with you be it family or friends have already been blessed!!

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  15. I loved this post! I could feel your happiness emerging and it was genuine! I know there are so many times you have to "put on" your happy face but this was different! I hope some of this manages to stay with you through the holiday and that the signs from above are overflowing!! XO

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  16. Kelly McCarron Sheehy Omg I love your cookie! I can't believe you posted my cupcake. Here is my tip set the timer, lol. If it helps it took me 2 hours to pick out a bottle of wine to take to your house. I have no idea what I'm doing in that department. Pick out wine is a talent. Anyway, Hands down I couldn't do what you do. I love you my friend and you would be top on my list for my cookie exchange. The wine and laughter is more important. I still love your cookie more. It keeps me smiling and thinking of you!

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  17. Great post! Made me laugh...I can cook but cannot bake much either. Being a mom is much more than cookies and I am learning everyday. I cannot begin to know what you have been through but I look forward to each post....Cindy, you are wonderful and I am fortunate to have found your blog.

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  18. Laughing out loud at this post. I hope you are laughing too. Its good for the soul. Can't think of anyone more deserving of some happiness.
    Merry Christmas to the Campbells!

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  19. There has not been one post that I have read of yours over the last couple of years that has not made me cry - not one. And as I read I thought - this will be the one. But I started laughing so hard at your story that I was laughing so hard I was crying!! It was as if you were sitting here in my living room with me with a cup of coffee telling it. The description of how you depict the crafty mom to the caretaker mom I found really beautiful - cant really find the right words here but I totally understood what you were writing. I will be thinking of you all during the holidays as I do everyday and sending you strength and blessings. You are one amazing woman, with one amazing family.

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  20. Haaa!! Gavin looks so cute. I cant stop laughing! -Emily

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  21. What a great post! Made me laugh & cry at the same time!!! I've been reading your blog since September 2012 when my cousin liked your husband's post on FB about Ty's birthday. I've been reading ever since. I went back to the beginning and read everything about you and your beautiful Ty and your undying love for him. I'm amazed at your courage and grace and most of all, your neverending faith in God. I think of Ty often and when my almost 3 year old wants to jump in muddy puddles when we otherwise are late at getting home I stop and take a moment and let him relish in that time, for Ty. I hope you and your beautiful family have a SPECTACULAR Christmas and I especially hope Ty sends you and your husband some unmistakable sign that he's right by your side. Lots of love!

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  22. Just Merry Christmas!!!

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  23. Love reading your posts! I am no Betty Crocker, but I am Betty from Beacon whom bakes cookies from a premade tub of mix and my family and I love it! ;) We hope you and your familiy find peace this holiday season in whatever it is that makes u happy.
    Betty from Beacon

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  24. I love your honesty. It isn't fair that you HAD to develop your own kind of mom skills. They are more important than baking cookies. They kept Ty surviving, comfortable, and loved. I see people on a daily basis stressed out for all the wrong reasons. It isn't their fault that they don't know how stressful life can be. It just makes me treasure the people that truly know how delicate and fragile life is. You are pretty much my hero. Thanks for your post.

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  25. This was a FANTASTIC POST!!! I've made the "goop" cookies and burned myself WAY too many times with oatmeal!! THANKS FOR THE LAUGH!!

    Love Gabrielle

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  26. This one made me laugh and cry..loved it...

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  27. Oh my gosh, Cindy. Your bit about the cookie swap was laugh out loud funny. I'm a baker so your comments about the whole thing were extra funny for me. I just lost my dad to cancer so I've been off your site for about a month. It's good to be back.

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  28. Hi Cindy- I loooooved this story, it really had me laughing, and its so heart warming to know that your light is just beginning to shine again. Gavin is a hoot and always makes me smile too, and as you know your sweet darling Ty would have been beside you in the kitchen laughing and having fun watching the cookies been made. Take care, from a New Zealand Mum :) xxx

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