Yesterday we ran out of bread. That surprised me because we don't tend to eat that much bread in my family, and we spread what bread eating we do across a plethora of products (Kashi waffles, bagels, English muffins, etc.). However, apparently this past week saw a big run on the bread and we ran out, on a week I don't have a shopping trip planned.*
Of course I didn't even have stale crusts left over from the previous weeks because of the Ginormous Seagull Feeding Disaster.**
That's fine, though, because you can't keep a good woman down.
I rooted in the pantry and found a box of bread mix. Excellent, I thought, I'll just whip up some homemade bread. The kids can help and we'll have an Activity! Some Fun! The house will smell delicious and we'll have bread for the week!
I got the kids set up at their table with "helping" tasks (mixing flour and water) and set to it. Yeast and warm water, check, waiting, mixing bread ingredients, check. Waiting. Mixing yeast and dough, check. Kneading, waiting, rising, kneading, waiting, rising. Transferring to bread pan. Waiting. Finally, cooking.
So, a project begun at 8 a.m. was finally complete somewhere near 5 p.m.ish.
A few things occurred to me during this project:
1. The bread ingredients cost roughly double what I pay for a loaf of bread at the store, and I buy the good-ish one (real wheat that's really whole, no corn syrup or sugar added, etc. You know, the sort Moms Who Try to Be Good to Compensate for All the Ways They Secretly Suspect They Are Not-So-Good get).
2. Wow, that was a lot of work and time.
3. It didn't feel terribly enlightening or fun.
No insights into current dilemmas came to me as I kneaded, nor did my veneer of patience deepen (putting more space between me, the kids, the rest of the world and the thick, choking underlying miasma of frustration just under that thin and fragile patience). The kids gained no additional lessons in patience, either. Persistence asked every two minutes for basically eight hours if we had bread yet, and that was in between our Power Struggle of the Day about tidying up her cars. Saint Patience piously chimed in, every two minutes and 22 seconds, "You have to be patient. It will be finished when it's finished, Persistence. Right, Mommy?"
The kids are tag-teaming me with a Good Cop/Bad Cop routine. I ought to be grateful for my own very, very good child who has allied herself with me, but I'm not. I don't think that's healthy. Much better the kids ally against me. Plus, no six year old is this good. That child is going to pop soon.
Best of all would be if we could achieve some sort of balance, here. Spread the misbehaving and attitude around. There is no joy in having to gently discipline a well-intentioned child. There is no joy in having to frequently discipline a boundary testing child.
There is, apparently, no joy in making bread either, because the most important thing I learned yesterday while making bread is that I suck at making bread. Which pretty much topped off the day.
I pulled the bread from the oven, and first noticed it had not risen and filled the pan as the instructions on the box promised it would. While the kids leapt around me begging for a slice, I re-read the instructions and thought back through the day. I had done everything right, followed every solid instruction and it turned out badly, anyway.
When I sliced it, I discovered that the bread had a consistency roughly double that of concrete. Yes, concrete is lighter, fluffier and more porous than this bread. I'm not exaggerating.
The children were disappointed. Persistence, honest to a fault, said, "Ooohh YUCK, this bread is YUCKY!"
Saint Patience, so sensitive to the struggle I am having parenting this stage of Persistence's, and always so sensitive to every person's feelings in the world, my sweet little empath, said loyally, "It's heavy but I like it with jam," and proceeded to choke down an entire slice, God love her.
I sat down, feeling defeated and disappointed, largely in myself, which lead to a full scale pity party, which I had been on the verge of all day long due to the ongoing struggles with a chronic case of the threes. And summer. I also blame summer.
Patience patted my shoulder, but that just made it worse because seriously, a six year old does not need to be worrying about a grown-up.
Persistence followed suit. That caused Guilt to crush down on me. What a day she and I had had. In fact, what a time in general she and I are having. Not the sort of good time you want to write a postcard about, though (although blog posts are fair fodder, apparently).
I've followed the suggestions of four experts, one grandmother, multiple friends, advice from books, my own gut and every single idea I can come up with, and despite trying to do everything right? We're still working through the same troubles.
I took another bite of my bread. It didn't taste that bad, actually. I thought of this delicious fruit spread my mother got for me (peach mango, yum). I thought that might taste good on it. I was right.
And then the metaphor that probably occurred to you five paragraphs ago came to me: as with the bread, sometimes you do everything right and it doesn't turn out as expected, in fact, it might very well seem ruined. But. With a little thought, you can salvage it and make it into something that's a little bit of all right.
I hugged my children, who, like me, are doing their best.
I stood back up, and said, "Hey, who wants to go on a Bear Hunt?" They giggled excitedly, competing with their hands---who can be highest---and their voices---who can be loudest---to say, "Me, me, I do I do!"
So, even with a challenging day, spread a little fun on top, and it can be a bit of all right.
* The lack of planned shopping trip is due to the utility bill we got that was more than double what we expected/budgeted for. That's because our power company took the opportunity to slip through another Republican loophole and hike our rate from 12 cents to 20 cents per kWh. With no notice. I'm not being paranoid. It truly is due to a proposal the Republicans made and enacted. It's also due to deregulation, which, by the way, does not work in the consumer's favor. Businesses, especially utility companies, are not in this to do the consumer any favors or play fair. They are in it to make as much money as possible, and I'm to understand this means gouging me royally. Hence, no groceries for this week.
** Nearly two weeks ago, during a particularly whiny day, I loaded the kids into the bike and we went down to the waterfront. The kids ripped and threw the ends of four loaves of bread into the air and water trying to attract the flock of seagulls that usually plague the park at that spot. Of course there wasn't a seagull or duck in sight. And the whining re-commenced. With a topping of lecturing about waste and litter (because we threw the bread into the water and Nobody Ate It). I just love it when my words are misapplied and come back to haunt me.
Copyright 2008 Julie Pippert. Do not reprint or reproduce without permission.
Also blogging at:
Julie Pippert REVIEWS: Get a real opinion about BOOKS, MUSIC and MORE
Julie Pippert RECOMMENDS: A real opinion about HELPFUL and TIME-SAVING products
Moms Speak Up: Talking about the environment, dangerous imports, health care, food safety, media and marketing, education, politics and many other hot topics of concern.