One Sunday evening last month, I found myself at 10:30 pm exhausted, stressed and baking muffins. I was heading out the next morning for a four-day trip to New York, leaving my husband to care for our four kids, and I had worked all weekend to accomplish everything I would normally have done if I was at home during the week. This is a bit of a pattern for me every time I go away for a few days. To be clear, I don’t bake muffins at 10:30 pm because my husband is incapable of making good lunches for our boys, nor do I stay up late to bake because I am a control freak (Ok, I am a little bit); instead, I know how hard it is for the parent left behind when the other travels so I try to do as much as I can before I leave to help make the week go smoothly for everyone.
My six-year old son, Owen, will only eat certain things for lunch so at 10:30 pm, I begin. By 11:00 pm I am exhausted and holding a basket of fresh made muffins. Then it hits me. I just made a dozen banana-nut muffins. Banana-nut. My kids’ school became nut-free this year. These muffins are useless.
I am sure you can guess what I did next. I baked another batch of muffins. This time, orange cranberry.
As I lay in bed that night, the aroma of fresh baked muffins still wafting through the house, I thought back to another late evening I had spent baking something for a class party. “Why don’t you just pick up something at the store”, everyone had said. “I’m sure lots of people will do that.” Nope. I had to make something. The next day, I brought in my home made treat. Every single item on the large table before me was home made. Not a single store bought item. “Thank goodness I stayed up late to bake something”, I told myself. Thank goodness I skipped reading to my kids at bedtime, deprived myself of sleep, woke up cranky and was impatient with the kids in the morning. Yup, so worth it. This baked good was proof that I was a good mom. I’m on my way to earning that super woman badge. “How does she do it?!”
That trip to New York took me to the Working Mother Work Life Congress where I had the opportunity to hear Katherine Wintsch of the Mom Complex speak. She spoke so eloquently about the mask that working moms wear every day to make it appear that we have it all together, all the time, and that we are loving every minute. Comments like, “you make it look so easy” and “you’re a super mom” only serve to further our resolve to never lift the mask and show the true woman inside – the one who needs help, feels inadequate, is unhappy. You can view her TEDx talk here. It’s worth it. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DGIuSNks3DA.
Following her talk, I received an e-mail from the school reminding parents of the new nut-free policy banning any baked goods from class parties. Contributions could only be store bought with the ingredients clearly labeled. No homemade baked goods allowed – ever. I was free! I could stock up now on pre-approved, pre-packaged, highly-preserved, likely full of artificial sugars and flavors treats, but I was free. And, I was still a good mother. I could keep my mask on. Yah, I’m working on that.