Short-Cut Mom

A friend came over for dinner last night with her two boys. When she came in, DD1 and myself had christmas cookies made and ready to be decorated by the kids. It seemed like an activity that would create an enormous mess but would be fun for them and allow us to have at least one uninterrupted conversation and take a few sips of wine. Her reaction upon seeing the cookies was this: “You are SUCH a good mom!”

Umm….not such much, I thought. Now, maybe the bar is set low, maybe I give-off more of an Oscar the Grouch style of parenting vibe, or maybe she mistakenly assumed this was a start-from-scratch kind of Betty Crocker project made with love and patience.

Think again friends.

On the motherhood style continuum, I’m probably somewhere between Oscar (though lately I’m thinking I look more like Rudolph’s nemesis, the Abominal Snowman) and the parents in Home Alone….where they looked organized and superb on the surface with all their planning and fabulous vacation, but still forgot the kid at home.

In truth, the cookies came from a box kit from Trader Joes – all we had to do was add butter and eggs, mix, then bake. The kit even included icing, sprinkles and the cookie cutters.  Upon further reflection, I should’ve bought  four more of those kits, who cares that the end product really isn’t that good. Further, we’d made the cookies days ago but hadn’t yet had the time to finish the project – the icing and decorating part- so it all just worked out for our playdate.

Nothing screams amazing mom like 3 day old cookies from a box kit with pre-made icing, right?

Her comment really struck me because people are so quick to exclaim “You’re such a good mom!” when they perceive you’ve done a work intensive project with your kids. I don’t do those. Who has the time? Especially when you have more than one kid, if the younger one is still baby-ish – who has time to measure flour, sugar, make sure you have vanilla and any other ingredients, let alone find the right cookie cutters, make sure your sprinkle supply is well stocked – it just doesn’t happen. Not chez moi anyway. First of all, I’m pretty sure I’m one trip to Target away from being completely banned from entering. DD2 refuses to sit in the cart and tends to prefer to use her arm as a destructive device, that would be pulling all items off  low shelves as we scramble through the store, my list lost somewhere between the parking lot and front door.

Which means, I’m a half-stocked kinda gal – in my head I have everything I need for a recipe – and in reality I’m texting neighbors desperately at 6pm to see if they have lemons and bell peppers, promising to replenish their supplies days later (if I don’t forget it when I’m in the store and just think I’ve picked it up for them in my head. Again,  common problem).

This is when it dawned on me – I am a short-cut mom. I love doing projects with my kids but the start from scratch to finish process just isn’t realistic for me. I don’t feel bad about it – it is what it is. You will never find me icing cupcakes at 2am. I’d rather buy the pre-made icing if I know I won’t have time to make it from scratch. A gal needs her beauty rest, especially this delicate flower.  I love doing arts and crafts projects with my girls but mainly when it comes from Michaels in a package with all the supplies you need and a simple picture of  instructions to follow-along for the 5-year-old in the house. I don’t read instructions. I follow pictures though.

So – I am a short-cut mom. Find me a box kit, I don’t really care how much more it costs than ingredients from scratch, and I’m all over it. I ain’t afraid to admit it. And in case you were paying attention, my friend and I did not have one uninterrupted conversation last night. In fact, we didn’t have one full conversation about anything.  I’m thinking short-cut motherhood enables half-conversations..which is still better than no conversations.

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