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.
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.”
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.