On realizing I’m not Martha Stewart, and that is perfectly OK with me.

I had a fun exchange of comments with an anonymous commenter on my last post- my to-do list for the fall.  Apparently I’ve fooled some of you people who read this blog into thinking that I have it all together.  As Comrade Physioprof would say Hahahahahahhhhaaaaaa!!!

Anonymous commenter offered this:

Your life is nuts? You certainly conceal it in your posts!

I am giving myself an hour to finish my teaching statement, and then I am going home to back 25 cupcakes. And then I will spend the evening shopping for “goody bags.” Now *that* is nuts.

You all know that I have two children, who are now 7 and 11, so I’ve had a little time to adjust to my double life as a mom and an academic researcher on the tenure track. But Anonymous’ comment.. gave me a flashback to a time when I was attempting to be super-duper junior faculty, Martha Stewart,  the perfect parent, the ideal wife, and social worker to the universe, all at the same time. Let me first say- I don’t recommend trying this.

I am thinking back to a day in December some years ago, when I was to attend the female faculty cookie baking event and exchange. This is a lovely tradition of a group that I belong to, that occurs every year.  That particular day we had three events scheduled on the same day- the cookie baking thing- to which I was supposed to bring a couple of batches of cookie dough, a school charity event that the kids love to go to and they meet Santa there, and the violin teacher had booked a photographer to take pictures of all her students and a family shot for each family as requested. The holidays with kids, the end of school/semester etc, aren’t a particularly easy time for working moms. Talk about over-scheduled, overextended, and STRESSED OUT…, but I was competing for the prize of perfect mom-dom, faculty-dom, and Martha Stewart-dom.

I had no time the evenings before this day to make the cookie dough- so I started to make the cookie dough first thing in the morning before the school event, from two different recipes simultaneously… because it just wouldn’t be baking goddess enough to bring two batches of a single kind of cookie dough. I realized when I was doing the first round in the oven (that was 4 loaves of biscotti) that something wasn’t right. … and that indeed, I had left out at least two sticks of butter… inedible… the whole thing was. FAIL. I was beside myself, no time to correct the problem before the cookie-baking party, events #2 and #3 had to be attended. People were depending on me.  But it was now confirmed- my domestic goddess title had been revoked – and I just melted down (did any if you see the new movie Julie & Julia? Well, my melt-down looked JUST like that one). Anyway- the goodness just kept coming- at the time my younger daughter was in a very difficult stage, behaviorally speaking. She refused to go to the school event, and she wouldn’t even get near the clothes I had put together for her to wear to the photographer. A huge family fight ensued about whether or not we would get our first family portrait taken that day.

It all seems so silly now writing it out like this, but at the time the whole day felt like an incredible crisis. What happened in the end? I didn’t go to the party, we didn’t get pictures taken (and we ended up using a snap-shot of the girls taken in the back of my car for a Christmas card), and only two of us went to see Santa. I got over myself, and we ended up watching a B movie on television that afternoon all together on the bedroom floor. I learned on that day that it doesn’t matter whether or not I’m Martha Stewart, the perfect mom, the ideal wife, or super-duper jr. faculty all at the same time. What really matters is that we have fun doing whatever we are doing together.

And it is OK to be Martha Stewart, a perfect mom, the ideal wife and super-duper jr. faculty- but try these on one at a time… for short stretches. 😉

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7 thoughts on “On realizing I’m not Martha Stewart, and that is perfectly OK with me.

  1. Thank you. I needed to be reminded if this. I am currently bringing monkey into the lab as the daycare is closed, I’m trying to be awesome grad student fun mom and happy partner when I get home.

  2. I know you’ll laugh at this. I made the cheesecake. MASSIVE FAIL. I have no idea what went wrong… there’s like 5 ingredients, it’s idiot proof. Yet, I fucked it up, it tasted wayyy funky. So I made choc chip cookies. and burned them. black.

  3. One at a time – yes that’s key. Its hard to be everything to everyone at the same time. Overall you are doing well juggling.

  4. I’m so honored that one of my comments was picked up as a subject for a new post!

    As I recall, Martha Stewart is divorced, estranged from her kid(s), and surely does not have a federally funded research program (unless you count her time in the pen). But she clearly excels at inquiry-based learning.

    We all have to decide where to draw the line. For me, biscotti are over the line, but birthdays are a Big Day and warrant taking time off from my tenure worries.
    And for anyone still striving to be a supermom, I offer these words: cake mixes, canned frosting, frozen cookie dough, and Pet-Ritz pie crusts. Long live Pet-Ritz! Yes, they taste like shit, but they’ll do in a pinch.

  5. Anon- Yeah. you know what I mean about Martha Stewart though- that illusion that everything has to be perfect, right down to the napkins.

    And you are right about the line- everyone has to decide where it is, it probably took me longer than most. Many of my kids friends have stay at home moms- who have time to plan pretty much everything to the N-th degree…. something of which I am not capable (although I almost went insane trying). I don’t know if the kids will remember the color of the napkins on the Thanksgiving table, but I’m pretty sure that they will remember a special birthday party, or a special trip.

    Scientistmother- I need reminding of it too. Pretty frequently, actually.

    JC- Big bummer about the cheesecake!

  6. Great post DrdrA. If only the line didn’t keep moving as the kids get older and things happen. .

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