fathering mothering PARENTING

Chocolate Chip Cookies, Boogers, and Board Books: An Honest Inside Look at the Life of a Working Mom

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Let me paint you the scene. It’s midnight. I just finished baking Nutella stuffed chocolate chip cookies. I’m in charge of our “connecting activity” for work tomorrow and I have carefully planned five “Minute to Win It” games. I’ve somehow also managed to sign up to bring food for the breakfast tomorrow, so along with the white elephant gift exchange present, the props for Minute to Win It, and the 9 X 13 pan of cookies, I am picking up bagels and cream cheese early tomorrow morning.

For a minute this afternoon I contemplated trying to make it to the 6:15am group work out class at the women’s gym I joined last month. Don’t worry, I’ve eaten enough chocolate this evening to tamp down that idea.

Tis the season, right? The season of way, way, way too much to do. I have always felt this way, but somehow having a son and wanting to squeeze every moment of time with him out of each day leaves very thin margins on the book-ends of my day to accomplish, well, everything.

And I do mean… everything.

This week we had a professional development for work. And she was there. You don’t know her, and yet, I’m pretty sure you do. She’s adorable, she got a work ethic to make Ben Franklin proud, she’s a step higher on the career ladder. She’s so nice that it’s annoying and yet, you realize that you can’t not like her because, ugh, she is so nice. She doesn’t have a kid yet, but I can guarantee that when she does, her days will have extra hours and she will not be awake at 1am writing a blog about how much she envies someone else. She will instead be busy being the President of the United States. Or something like that.

I’m exaggerating. Obviously. But there’s nothing like showing up to a work event having barely brushed your hair and wearing a Coldwater Creek shirt you bought from Goodwill that may or may not have gone out of style ten years ago that can send you into the spiral of down, down, down into the comparison game. Or maybe it’s just me.

I do not need anyone to remind me about how this is NOT what Christmas is all about. For that matter, I don’t need anyone to remind me that this is NOT what mothering, being a woman, being a person is all about.

And yet, here we are.

For some reason, what keeps coming into my mind over and over, and I do like to pay attention to such things, is this moment of conversation I had with a coworker this week. Not “her”. A different one. Her name is Katie. She’s the kind of person that asks how you’re doing and really wants to hear the answer. So I told her.

“Last night my son screamed for three blocks through the middle of downtown Oak Park, bucking his body wildly against me because I wouldn’t let him play with a knife at the restaurant where we’d ordered dinner.”

She had true compassion in her eyes, probably because her son is only a few months older than mine, so she gets it. And then she went into a several minute long story about, and I am not making this up, sucking boogers out of her son’s nose with the Nose Frida.

nose frida

It might have been the best conversation I had all week.

What in the world do boogers have to do with Christmas, the comparison game, and being up way too late?

I guess nothing. And everything. Because she offered me such a gift. Katie offered me the honest, real look at her day to day life. And right now, in a tale that is very familiar, her day to day life consists of… boogers.

Right now my days consist of speculation on and about the rhyming patterns of Sandra Boynton books. I can explain in incredible detail how and why Barnyard Dance is superior in every way to Birthday Monsters. My husband can chime in on the conversation because (and this is a little embarrassing) we talk about it. Kinda a lot.

boynton

I was an over-committer long before my son came along. I can’t blame him for that. But having a son has spread the icing on the cake thin enough that it’s embarrassing to serve it. Things have slipped, and there are glaring holes in the facade I like to believe I used to be able to pull off. (For those who know me well, just go with me here. No need to burst my bubble.)

Yet, here I am. Blogging in the middle of the night after a marathon day of “doin’ too much.” Adding a few more things onto my plate so that maybe I can fool everyone else into thinking that I haven’t slowed down at all since becoming a mom. I really can do it all.

But the truth, as I’ve already laid out, I can’t. These days I get really nervous just trying to make small talk. I hate the moment in conversations when it lulls and I am expected to fill it with some thoughtful remark. I scan the Rolodex and more often than not land on… boogers. Or Sandra Boynton. Or my son’s screaming through Oak Park. Not exactly cocktail conversation.

Maybe the best I can do is this. Writing this. Telling my own version of the booger story and letting it all hang out for you to see. Would it probably have been even more meaningful, a larger step away from the comparison game, if I had bought cookies from the store? Maybe. Does it help make my point to know that I ate way more than my fair share of chocolate chips today? Maybe.

But know that despite what my chocolate chip cookies and sunny Christmas card may imply, I’m just winging it. Like everybody else.

Probably even “her”.

261755_10150290602379874_2436766_nRachel

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29 Comments

  • Reply
    William Grit
    December 19, 2014 at 7:34 am

    Those are some fucking, good looking cookies.

    • Reply
      Rachel
      December 19, 2014 at 7:48 am

      Wow. Not quite sure what to do with that. Thanks! They are delicious.

  • Reply
    William Grit
    December 19, 2014 at 7:34 am

    Those are some fucking, good looking cookies.

    • Reply
      Rachel
      December 19, 2014 at 7:48 am

      Wow. Not quite sure what to do with that. Thanks! They are delicious.

  • Reply
    Beth Saav
    December 19, 2014 at 12:28 pm

    Yes, I hear ya on feeling like the icing is spread too thin these days to leave the cake worthy of serving. Yeesh.

    • Reply
      Rachel
      January 9, 2015 at 5:03 am

      Yep. I knew you’d get that. I knew it when I wrote it. Time for a sister chat.

  • Reply
    Beth Saav
    December 19, 2014 at 12:28 pm

    Yes, I hear ya on feeling like the icing is spread too thin these days to leave the cake worthy of serving. Yeesh.

    • Reply
      Rachel
      January 9, 2015 at 5:03 am

      Yep. I knew you’d get that. I knew it when I wrote it. Time for a sister chat.

  • Reply
    Anonymous
    December 19, 2014 at 2:24 pm

    If you have an extra second can you send me the Nutella chocolate chip recipe? ?
    Also, Julie is asking to spend more time with Isaiah. She played with him some when Jamie was babysitting him and she bonded big time. She says she feels like it would be good for her to see that she can take care of a child because she didn’t think she was capable of it.

    I think the fact that she feels so vulnerable (wanting to stay a kid forever because grown up life is way way too anxiety provoking),despite being 14, almost 15, led her to believe this. But being near Isaiah helped her to see how far she has come and how much she enjoys giving back to a little munchkin.

    • Reply
      Rachel
      January 9, 2015 at 5:03 am

      I will definitely send you the recipe-sorry it’s taken me so long to respond!

      I love that Julie was able to spend time with Isaiah! We would love for your girls to watch him again soon. Let’s schedule a time. Sounds like it would be good all around.

      Taking care of a child really does change everything. In so many ways. There’s so much joy to be had.

  • Reply
    Anonymous
    December 19, 2014 at 2:24 pm

    If you have an extra second can you send me the Nutella chocolate chip recipe? ?
    Also, Julie is asking to spend more time with Isaiah. She played with him some when Jamie was babysitting him and she bonded big time. She says she feels like it would be good for her to see that she can take care of a child because she didn’t think she was capable of it.

    I think the fact that she feels so vulnerable (wanting to stay a kid forever because grown up life is way way too anxiety provoking),despite being 14, almost 15, led her to believe this. But being near Isaiah helped her to see how far she has come and how much she enjoys giving back to a little munchkin.

    • Reply
      Rachel
      January 9, 2015 at 5:03 am

      I will definitely send you the recipe-sorry it’s taken me so long to respond!

      I love that Julie was able to spend time with Isaiah! We would love for your girls to watch him again soon. Let’s schedule a time. Sounds like it would be good all around.

      Taking care of a child really does change everything. In so many ways. There’s so much joy to be had.

  • Reply
    Jade
    December 19, 2014 at 5:14 pm

    Rachel, your rendition if Barnyard Dance is truly a talent. Logan and I definitely couldn’t do it justice when we watched Isaiah.

    • Reply
      Rachel
      January 9, 2015 at 5:00 am

      Haha, I love this! But you knew which books to choose!

  • Reply
    Jade
    December 19, 2014 at 5:14 pm

    Rachel, your rendition if Barnyard Dance is truly a talent. Logan and I definitely couldn’t do it justice when we watched Isaiah.

    • Reply
      Rachel
      January 9, 2015 at 5:00 am

      Haha, I love this! But you knew which books to choose!

  • Reply
    Lynn Fernandez
    December 19, 2014 at 6:40 pm

    Hi Rachel!

    Oh, I hope you write a book and compile all of your blog entries! It would be such an encouragement to young mothers everywhere…especially the ones who work. I sure wish I had your blog to read while I was at that point in my life. I wouldn’t have felt so alone.

    Thank you for every word you have written. I am blessed with each one – they are like gold nuggets of insight to me…so wonderfully candid, without pretense. Someday when I grow up, I hope to write as well as you. I can’t believe that you could pound this out in the midst of all the commitments you have fulfilled. That, to me, is amazing.

    Please keep writing…I look forward to each entry!

    Love you, Lynn (I mean, Ms Miya)

    • Reply
      Rachel
      January 9, 2015 at 5:00 am

      Ms. Miya!

      Thank you so much for your comment. It has been a really rewarding process to keep writing, and I plan to keep going, even when it requires brutal honesty. 🙂

      I really appreciate all your encouragement and comments. I treasure them up for times when I feel frustrated. I have thought often about your comment about leaving Central, and it meant so much to me to know that my struggle wasn’t unique, that there was someone else out there who gets what I’m going through.

      I hope our paths cross again soon, and in the meantime I’ll keep stalking you via facebook. Wishing you the best.

      Love you, too.

      Rachel

  • Reply
    Lynn Fernandez
    December 19, 2014 at 6:40 pm

    Hi Rachel!

    Oh, I hope you write a book and compile all of your blog entries! It would be such an encouragement to young mothers everywhere…especially the ones who work. I sure wish I had your blog to read while I was at that point in my life. I wouldn’t have felt so alone.

    Thank you for every word you have written. I am blessed with each one – they are like gold nuggets of insight to me…so wonderfully candid, without pretense. Someday when I grow up, I hope to write as well as you. I can’t believe that you could pound this out in the midst of all the commitments you have fulfilled. That, to me, is amazing.

    Please keep writing…I look forward to each entry!

    Love you, Lynn (I mean, Ms Miya)

    • Reply
      Rachel
      January 9, 2015 at 5:00 am

      Ms. Miya!

      Thank you so much for your comment. It has been a really rewarding process to keep writing, and I plan to keep going, even when it requires brutal honesty. 🙂

      I really appreciate all your encouragement and comments. I treasure them up for times when I feel frustrated. I have thought often about your comment about leaving Central, and it meant so much to me to know that my struggle wasn’t unique, that there was someone else out there who gets what I’m going through.

      I hope our paths cross again soon, and in the meantime I’ll keep stalking you via facebook. Wishing you the best.

      Love you, too.

      Rachel

  • Reply
    slbang00
    December 24, 2014 at 7:36 am

    It’s refreshing to hear other moms having the same struggles! I feel like my abilities are spread so thin that i am an inch away from insanity. I live the comments about the perfect woman at work who is so nice that it is hard to hate her. People who dont have children have NO IDEA. Please. Keep your comments to yourself!
    We live the sandra boynton books too! Barnyard Dance my first favorite! I could hear the music playing as i read it. So easy to read…. Birthday monsters will grow on you. I have an eleven year old and a three year old so some of her less popular books have been read more frequently. I love all of Sandra Boynton’s books- one, two, three- my oh my dinosaurs!- snuggle puppy- anyhow enjoyed your blog thanks for sharing

    • Reply
      Rachel
      January 9, 2015 at 4:57 am

      Sandra Boynton is the best! Thank you so much for your comment, I will keep going with Birthday Monsters and see if I can make it work for me. 🙂

      Yes, I feel like being a working parent so often means that I get to choose one thing I can accomplish each day. I can clean, I can cook, I can blog, I can work out. But I can’t do more than one a day. Grace, grace, grace.

      Thanks for making me feel understood!

  • Reply
    slbang00
    December 24, 2014 at 7:36 am

    It’s refreshing to hear other moms having the same struggles! I feel like my abilities are spread so thin that i am an inch away from insanity. I live the comments about the perfect woman at work who is so nice that it is hard to hate her. People who dont have children have NO IDEA. Please. Keep your comments to yourself!
    We live the sandra boynton books too! Barnyard Dance my first favorite! I could hear the music playing as i read it. So easy to read…. Birthday monsters will grow on you. I have an eleven year old and a three year old so some of her less popular books have been read more frequently. I love all of Sandra Boynton’s books- one, two, three- my oh my dinosaurs!- snuggle puppy- anyhow enjoyed your blog thanks for sharing

    • Reply
      Rachel
      January 9, 2015 at 4:57 am

      Sandra Boynton is the best! Thank you so much for your comment, I will keep going with Birthday Monsters and see if I can make it work for me. 🙂

      Yes, I feel like being a working parent so often means that I get to choose one thing I can accomplish each day. I can clean, I can cook, I can blog, I can work out. But I can’t do more than one a day. Grace, grace, grace.

      Thanks for making me feel understood!

  • Reply
    Hannah
    December 29, 2014 at 5:09 am

    Oh, my gosh. Let’s be friends!
    Every time I read your posts, I smile a little to myself with relief. This mama is not alone. Thank you for that!

    • Reply
      Rachel
      January 9, 2015 at 4:55 am

      Oh, thank you so much! I am so glad to not be alone, to know that there are people out there that can relate. 🙂

  • Reply
    Hannah
    December 29, 2014 at 5:09 am

    Oh, my gosh. Let’s be friends!
    Every time I read your posts, I smile a little to myself with relief. This mama is not alone. Thank you for that!

    • Reply
      Rachel
      January 9, 2015 at 4:55 am

      Oh, thank you so much! I am so glad to not be alone, to know that there are people out there that can relate. 🙂

  • Reply
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