Let's set the scene. It begins this week, a few days ago on Tuesday. My frugal friend who always happens to pass along great sales tips let me know that a grocery store a few miles away offered awesome deals ending that day.
So I strapped in the kids and we headed north. The whole way there was one question after another, "Where are we going?" Why are we going there? Didn't we already go to the store this week? Are there toys there? Mom? Mom? Are you listening? If you don't listen then...then...no donuts for you today."
Normally, I'd say, "Oh, okay...please, throw me into the Briar Patch."
But on Tuesday, the thought of "donut" made me groan in want and need.
Still I remained silent in response. When in doubt, keep your mouth shut. This (a) enables the other person to fill the dead air in their own way (which is usually much more inventive than anything you could actually say) and (b) keeps my ass covered.
We passed by the bakery, where the kids began to badger me for cookies and donuts, their usual MO. I agreed to the free cookie, but no more. I reached in and got one for Patience, one for Persistence and then...beyond my control, my hand reached in again, and grabbed one for me too.
Yes, that's right. You heard what I said.
I grabbed a free supermarket kid cookie. And I ate it.
I understand, you can't be seen with me any longer. I'm the mom who steals cookies from kids. Free supermarket cookies. The two day old stale ones. Not even worth the sin, atonement, special place in hell, and calories.
I want you to know...this is not a habit. I'm usually very committed to not snaking candy from kids. Thus, my children watched me shove that cookie into my mouth with gaping astonishment.
"Did you just take a kid cookie, Mom?" Patience inquired, aghast.
I held true to my principle of silence. At least I had one principle left.
Still, despite the cookie, I found myself walking through the store, suddenly starving...starving for foods on the Not Approved for Weight Loss list. Gingerbread, donuts, angel food cake, coffee cake, potato chips. It was all I could do to bypass them...and pausing by the cookies? I lost control.
In the meat department I went hog wild---pun intended---over 99 cent per pound pork chops, and $1.29 per pound steak. Inexplicably, I got both, and a huge brisket too.
I began to feel a little sick afer I filled my basket, and had a couple walk by, point and laugh. The kid cookie sat uneasily in my stomach and I contemplated that I probably had about half a cow and three-quarters of a pig in my basket.
It was all to the good of the budget. But I wondered. What was the whole cookie incident about, and all this meat?
Was I losing my mind dieting?
The next day all came clear to me. Karma is a red headed witch, in this case. The crabbiness, the cookie craving, the meat...my evil aunt came to visit. In other words, I went surfing on the crimson wave.
Most of you women out there are thinking, is she stupid? Don't you get this every 28 days, or otherwise chemically prevent it? Can't you recognize PMS, or at least have a fair guess of its timing?
No my friends, it has been years since I had a cycle. Years. I was starting to think, actually, that I was scot free. I saw no reason to get drugs to induce cycles. I thought I'd just slide gracefully from child-bearing to menopause.
And I was happy thinking of the savings in feminine hygiene products. Products I began a frantic search for on Wednesday morning. To no avail.
So back to the store we went.
Where I succumbed, although thankfully with full understanding of why, to a Dove ice cream bar. My kids couldn't believe their good fortune: cookies and ice cream two days in a row!
Did I look like the PMS queen or what at checkout: three Dove ice cream bars (I'm not foolish enough to buy a box! Just one for each of us.), package of tampons, package of pads (no wings thanks, I'm old fashioned that way), romance novel, buy one get one free baby powder, feminine wipes, bottle of Advil, bottle of Aleve, bottle of flavored non-carbonated water (x3) and package of toilet paper.
I was feeling mean and crampy enough to try to get the young man but he saw me coming and went on break, so I got the usual older lady instead. "Having one of those days, are we," she asked kindly. I just nodded.
This is all relevant, trust me. Hang in there.
So move forward to Thursday. Ummm, nothing. Cleaned house, like a madwoman. Researched brisket recipes, wondered how many ways you can prepare brisket since we'll be eating it for the next month (but hey! It was only $7!!).
Okay so. Here we are. Finally. Today.
You can understand why I pulled out the Rancher's Reserve steaks (only $5, with enough for dinner tonight and fajitas tomorrow night!) to thaw tonight. I felt the need for whatever it is that red meat gives back to a body. Steak and corn, I STG, this was my dinner plan. Earlier in the week we had grilled low-fat pork with Udon noodles and steamed vegetables. You see the contrast? This is what being a WOMAN! does to me.
My dear husband gets home in time to grill the steak. This is our deal...it stemmed from all my years of being vegetarian. Meat is allowed at the house, but not IN the house. It must be grilled outside. And I have nothing to do with it.
So all our meat is grilled.
My daughters don't even know alternative preparations I think.
(Little Aside: Now down here in the Republic, summer is iffy grilling weather because you might die of heat exhaustion. However, on the whole, it is pretty much grilling weather year round, without your neighbors doing the little finger twirl by their temple when they see you...like we got in New England.)
My husband takes the steaks---which he is still in shock that I not only bought but chose to eat---out to grill. I pulled out the corn. We wondered whether we ought to grill in the husk or out. We even googled...and YES, there are fierce debates on this topic. Being competitive debaters by nature, we each felt compelled to take one side of the argument and fight for it...meaning the corn got split down the middle as the only fair outcome.
He retreats outdoors with the food, a bottle of cold water, and a sweat rag. I am piddling around in the kitchen before it finally dawns on me I ought to crack the Cabernet, snag a glass and go laugh at some entertainment news. Before I can make good on this little fantasy (and isn't this always the case) Persistence is hanging on my leg, whining, begging for food and drink. All of which means, OMG woman, end my misery, put me to bed.
So up we go.
Patience trails us upstairs and goes into the playroom to play while I get Persistence ready for bed. She goes down pretty quickly and easily, and I sneak into my bedroom for five minutes of R&R before dinner. Patience is playing nicely in the playroom, dinner is grilling (hey, low mess, that!) and Newscaster Barbie is telling me all about Carnie Wilson going on some diet reality show. I have another "OMG all the fat I ate this week!" flash, compounded by "OMG it was a KID cookie," guilt, but before I can get too deep into the angst, Husband calls me down with, "HEY! Food's READY!"
I quietly call to Patience and we go down together.
As we all start to sit at the table, Patience says with a tone somewhere between Pride and Trepidation, something about when she grilled her meat. Dh and I freeze. I keep my back to her, eyes closed, praying to the Gods of parenting that I am not about to pay for my five minutes of R&R. DH starts the Inquisition, using his careful, don't frighten the child (but not snowing her anyway) tone and word choice, "What meat, what grill Patience?" I heard all I needed to when she said, "Blah blah blah toy bacon blah blah blah lamp..."
I raced up the stairs and this is what I saw still in the lamp:
The lamp? Was off.
At least when the things began melting around the light bulb she had the presence of mind to turn it off.
But what amazes me is HOW LONG it took her to come clean, despite the "Tell the truth, be wise and ask for help when you need it, and get out of jail free" policy we have.
Anyway...even she can't explain why she did it. The entire dinner conversation was first a quiz, by her, of possible motivations, along with how she chose the exact plate to use, and exact piece of meat. Next she explained the experiement to us, and the step-by-stage results. She knew it had gone awry, actually, when it "didn't smell like Dad's meat."
All I can say is...the worst thing that happened was a lost plate, play bacon and ligt bulb.
Thank all that is holy.
In these moments...I understand the jaw clenching and teeth grinding my parents did my entire childhood.
And as for the results of the experiment? DH is putting it in a little box in Patience's keepsake box. He says it's to remind him how the apple desn't fall far from the tree, and to remind her later, with her own kids, that she did it once to us.
By Julie Pippert
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