I devoted a day recently to baking holiday cookies for a cookie exchange at a Mommy get-together. Deciding this would be an educational experience, I enlisted the help of my toddler in the dough making process. We shared quite an enjoyable time measuring, pouring, mixing, and tasting our creations. Upon completing the dough, we carefully tucked it away in the refrigerator to chill.
As soon as naptime began that day, I hauled out the bowls of dough and set about baking and decorating dozens of cookies. This too would have likely been an enjoyable activity for my son, but I wanted my cookies to look cute. Two year olds don't know how to do cute ¦just messy and destructively messy. That afternoon I baked and decorated four dozen reindeer cookies, painstakingly placing mini chocolate chips as eyes and red chocolate candies to serve as the nose. Pretzels were cut precisely to serve as little antlers atop the peanut butter cookie head.
Two hours later I surveyed my tiny holiday masterpieces, choosing only the perfect reindeers to swap in the cookie exchange. I wrapped my platter in decorative cellophane, tying it with a coordinating ribbon and decorative tag.
On the morning of my Mommy get-together, I gathered both children, two diaper bags, my purse, and my perfect plate of cookies and off we went. I dropped the children off at their classes, and then rushed back out to the car to retrieve my festive cookies. A quick glance at my watch told me I only had a few minutes to make it back inside for the start of the cookie exchange.
I bet you can imagine what happened next ¦
I dropped the plate of cookies.
On the hardwood floor.
Antlers were broken off in sad little pieces, noses were without a face, and the beautiful ribbon/tag/ornament combination I had carefully affixed on top of the platter was a jumbled mess.
A perfectly good afternoon spent making these cookies was now wasted.
In a moment of personal introspection, I learned a few things from this mishap. I had missed out on the perfect opportunity to spend quiet time with one of my children because I was seeking perfect cookies simply to impress others. I missed out on quality family time because I was still packing away the cookies and cleaning up the post-baking war zone that was my kitchen. I missed out on a much needed nap because I had devoted my child-free hours to making sure reindeer eyes were even and antlers were straight.
Sometimes I put a significant amount of focus and energy into making sure my personal plate of cookies looks beautiful to others, causing me to neglect the important areas of my life. Women (present company included) often get caught up in the race to make life resemble a Martha Stewart creation, with perfect edges and wrinkle-free seams. My family is not asking me to be like the glossy images of a magazine page or to be picture perfect on a daily basis (or even a monthly basis!). My family enjoys the little fractured, imperfect pieces of me. This holiday season forget the rush to be perfect. Take time to focus on the reason of the season and on being with family rather than attempting to live up to standards that are only portrayed on the cover of a magazine.
To the Mommy who received my sad little platter of broken cookie pieces at the exchange ¦just pull out a spoon and dig into those crumbs. I am sure Rudolph is just as tasty in little pieces as he would have been whole and unbroken.