Today was our big Christmas cookie baking day. I've had good intentions for the last three years to get a tray of homemade cookies to the worship team as they start rehearsals for the myriad Christmas Eve services our church does, and I was determined to get it done this time. So I loaded the kids up and took them to Wal Mart this morning to get the supplies. That might be one of the best perks of going to Saturday night church: Wal Mart is bare-bones empty Sunday mornings around 9. Even so, by the time we got back into the car to go home, I wanted to donate my three children to the Salvation Army, but they wouldn't fit into the little red buckets. Grocery shopping has to be near the top of my most-hated things to do with children.
But we persevered, and once home we donned our aprons. I wore a vintage apron I bought off etsy a while back, but the boys had on aprons from my grandma, and I burst into tears the second I tied them. I should've taken that as a sign, hung up the aprons, and bought some store-baked cookies. I need to remember to listen to that little voice in my head.
First off the block was spritzes. They turned out pretty well, but Grayson's teeth are going to rot out of his head from all the red hots he swiped while decorating the trees and stars. After several dozen of those, we moved on to chocolate candy cane cookies. By this point I hated making cookies, eating cookies, and trying to make memories, in general. In between saving cooling cookies from sticky hands stealing them, keeping a monkey-like toddler off the counters, and washing the growing mound of dishes, I was losing my mind.
I couldn't quit, though, (Why not? I'm later wondering. Would the earth have stopped?), so we made a pan of chocolate-peanut butter something-or-others (must name these!) and the dough for chocolate drops, and by then we were all crashing from our previous sugar high. I rounded up Spaghetti-Os for dinner and washed the last dish.
Of course the boys had abandoned me some time ago and were vegging in front of the Pink Panther, so I had a familiar momentary flash of guilt/inspiration: play something with them. Again, I had visions of a wonderful family memory in the making, so I pulled out the Dora the Explorer version of Candyland. Grayson has never played it before, and why I chose tonight to teach a three year old how to play a game with actual rules, I'm not sure. Stupid.
Here's a condensed version of how the game went:
Grayson: I be Boots. I be Backpack. No, I be Dora!
Me: Just be somebody. Here's your card. It's green. Go to that green spot.
Grayson: I don't like green. I like lellow. Dora likes lellow.
Me: Fine, go to the yellow spot.
Caiden: Hey, that's cheating!
Me: (dirty look at Caiden) It's your turn, Caiden, just go. It's red. Go to the red spot. Go now.
And before I knew it, I was playing the game at break-neck speed, picking their cards for them, shooing Grayson off the playing board between moves, and moving their pieces as fast as I could. At some point Caiden realized this wasn't going to be an endearing family memory. Halfway through, Grayson decided he wanted to be Diego, which, unfortunately, was already in Caiden's possession, and I snatch up all the pieces, shoo them to the end, and say, "Hooray! Everybody wins! What a great game!" which is met with big-eyed stares. Oh no, Mommy's getting scary. I can hear it in their heads.
When Caiden protested, I dumped all the pieces at the start and tell him to have a great time playing the game by himself. I scoop up Grayson and put him in his bed, jeans and all. I sing our obligatory goodnight songs as fast as I can, spout the nightly blessing in warp speed, cheerily shout out, "Good night!" and bolt out of the room before he can ask for water or pajamas or a clean diaper.
Now it's 7 p.m. and I sit, exhausted, in the recliner wondering how on earth an afternoon baking drained all the life out of me. I'm a wimp. My husband is bringing home dinner (The Lord bless you and keep you, Chris, because I need you around for a long, long time!), and I have visions of knitting in perfect silence dancing around in my head.
I wonder, as I think back over my day, two things:
Did my mother have days like this, where baking cookies was supposed to create wonderful childhood memories but ended up with her exhausted and us all in bed still in our clothes with our teeth unbrushed? Or was she smart enough not to attempt a baking marathon with three small children? I really don't remember. Which brings me to my second question:
Will my kids later look back on this day and only remember making green Christmas tree spritz cookies, wearing Grandma's ancient aprons, and stealing red hots? Or will they remember their mom threatening to abandon them in the Wal Mart parking lot (Just kidding.) and forcing them to play Candyland while she wore a scary look and muttered under breath?
Either way, the cookies are finally finished, the children are in bed, and I'm headed to the bathtub. There's always next year.