Tuesday, October 5, 2010

How the cookie crumbles

I am so very thankful to be living the life I always imagined for myself: great husband, completely lovable kids, happy (if messy) home. But some days the gap between the Best Life MEP I imagined would be inhabiting this life and the Real Life MEP who actually lives it seems particularly wide.
Allow me to offer two examples of this gap.

Best Life MEP is a cute, fit mom with a good haircut and cool clothes. Real Life MEP has not worked out in a couple of years. She wears a ponytail every day and a "uniform" distinguished by sweatpants, jeans, casual tops, and running shoes (hint: one doesn't get fit by simply dressing in workout clothes).
Best Life MEP is a kitchen goddess, creating delicious and nutritious meals for her husband and kids, wowing the friends and family gathered around her table. When Real Life MEP has the time to cook and the presence of mind to plan ahead and shop wisely, she's pretty good in the kitchen. She loves reading magazines and cookbooks and searching for recipes online, but you might never know it given the frequency with which frozen pizza and peanut butter and jelly hit the plates Casa Real Life MEP. We won't even talk about the chicken nuggets.
One of these days, Real Life MEP always tells herself, one of these days . . .
I started this Monday with a hopeful heart and my favorite sweatpants. I'd attack the seven loads of laundry in the basement. I'd be a patient and enthusiastic mom. I'd get the fresh sage I needed for the pork loin and apples recipe I wanted to try. I'd get Sweet P to take a nap in her crib. Bub and I would make some chocolate chip cookies during Little Bit's nap time.
I started the laundry. I played with Little Bit while Sweet P slept late. We headed to the store.
By the time I had loaded my grocery bags, one of which housed fresh sage thankyouverymuch, I had figured out that Sweet P had a fever.
By the time the boys were eating their lunches (peanut butter and jelly for Bub, hot dog for Little Bit), I had made an evening doctor's appointment for Sweet P and given up on the laundry in favor of snuggling my sweet girl. I got Little Bit down for his nap while Sweet P slept on my shoulder. I let the chaos and mess build up all around us. Sweet P peed all over my favorite sweatpants.
And Bub?
Bub remembered that I had said we were making cookies during nap time.
"I'm sorry, Bub, but your sister is sick. I don't think today's the best day for making cookies after all." I offered some version of this explanation fifty times or more. Or more.
The kid would. not. let. it. die.
"Fine, let's make the god damn cookies." (Don't worry, I did not say that out loud, but I was thinking it. Sorry God.)
Five minutes into the project, Little Bit wakes up.
So then I am making the gosh darn cookies with two helpers and without much patience or enthusiasm. And I'm using a recipe for whole wheat chocolate chip cookies from a cookbook called Good to the Grain, the exact kind of cookbook that Best Life MEP buys and Real Life MEP always "means to" use. Best Life MEP thinks, I will learn to bake and not only will I bake, but I will bake using whole-grain flours. Then Real Life MEP is all, I am messing up my kitchen and wasting the precious few moments when Sweet P is content in the exersaucer for cookies that will probably taste like cardboard crap. Real Life MEP is tempted to give up on Best Life MEP once and for all.
Except that the cookies did not taste like cardboard crap. Our cookies completely rock! NTB. These cookies are bar none, the best chocolate chip cookies I have ever baked. Not just "good for being made with whole wheat flour" but good, great even, by any standard. The cookies are huge, and their texture is perfect -- a little bit of crunch on the outside, but a delightful chewy, denseness on the inside. I followed all the directions perfectly (except the one about using high-quality bittersweet chocolate and chopping it myself) and the results way exceeded expectations. I credit the recipe more than the chefs, but, damn, what a sweet, surprising success.
These suckers are good like I could wrap them in plastic and sell them at Starbucks for four bucks a piece. And even though I know whole wheat does not mean calorie free, I cannot stop eating them.
Thank goodness for sweatpants. And thank goodness for sweet, persistent kids. And for moms who say "yes" sometimes, however reluctantly, and who buy whole wheat flour and fresh sage with a hopeful heart and put them in the cart next to the Tombstones.
There are rare, beautiful moments when Best Life MEP and Real Life MEP face one another. At such moments, I like how that cookie crumbles.
Any sweet or surprising victories in your world these days? How do the Best Life and Real Life versions of you compete?


Heather said...

I absolutely adore this post, Mep.

You are smack in the middle of the crazy days that I remember so well. Hold on to Best Life MEP, because the days where Real Life and she combine to make BeReal Mep will be more and more frequent as your kids get older and more independent.

And I am waiting patiently for that cookie recipe...how could you post this and NOT include the recipe?!

Heather said...

ps. Hope Sweet P is feeling better...

Mrs.Mayhem said...

I love, love, love this post!

Best Life Mom does not exist anywhere except in our imaginations. We're all Real Life Moms, and that is just as it should be.

Giving up on the laundry to snuggle with the sick baby is perfect, as are those happy little faces.

All we can do as mothers is try our best.

Anonymous said...

Looks like you made their day and without expecting it, they made yours. Love the smiles! As far as the best life and real life. I love dressing up and pretending I have something special to do. Maybe I just need to get dressed up for those multiple nursing home visits each week. No, I do think so. m

CaraBee said...

As always, mep, you are so eloquent. This is why I bloggy fell in love with you. I am so happy your cookies turned out well. It is my experience that the healthier version is rarely the more delicious. What a lovely surprise. I might have to get that cookbook.

Real life Cara vs. Best life Cara. Sigh. There's a disconnect for sure. I'm pretty good about dressing and looking the part. I decided when Sophie was 6 months or so that getting myself prettified every day was one thing I was going to do for myself. That even if the only people I saw were my daughter and my husband, it made ME feel good and that was important.

Now the rest of it. BLC has a perfectly decorated, clean house. RLC has a home that is is more college chic than Pottery Barn and the only way it stays clean at all is a neatnik husband and a biweekly cleaning lady. BLC buys cookbooks and magazines with grand plans of cooking healthy, LIGHT, dishes every night. That my daughter would eat vegetables and fruits at every meal. RLC makes frozen pizza and PF Changs meal in a bag more often than I care to say and cajoles her daughter to eat just eat something, for the love of god, because she's so skinny and she can't possibly survive a whole day on just the one Eggo waffle she had for breakfast. And green vegetables. Fugeddaboudit.

But you know what? I'm generally happy. I think life is about finding the happy place between your dreams and your reality.

Tiffany said...

I think it's good to say yes once in a while even if we don't feel like it at all. Good things usually happen. Great, real post!

msh said...

this might be one of my favorite posts ever. and i love real life mep the most. i couldn't hang with best life mep if i tried. (though i do love my fresh herbs.)

Actchy said...

Best Life and Real Life mutually inclusive Chez Actchy these days. Abundant in dirty diapers and missing countless teeny socks (oh! here they are in Acey's oven!), we are aware of our blessings. Even if we remain largely unbathed and pj-clad.

Tracey - Just Another Mommy Blog said...

YUM on the cookies. Just serve them for breakfast if they're that healthy! Shoot. I serve the UNhealthy ones for breakfast!

How's Sweet Pea feeling?

dusty earth mother said...

You are too too funny. I love you!

The Empress said...

Everytime I've gone and said yes when I really didn't want to, I've been blessed with a special memory: one for me, one for my boys.

I don't regret it, but it's getting to the yes that kills me.

Wonderful post. Thank you.

E... said...

I love this post so much that I've been trying to come up with a worthy comment to let you know how very much I love it for two weeks.
But Real Life Me is finally admitting to Best LIfe Me that I am not rested enough to be eloquent enough for that. And I know you know I love all the sides of you anyway. Miss you, as always

Stacia said...

Need that recipe. Stat. And hand-chopped bittersweet chocolate? Bwaaaaaahhhhh!

PS: Were you able to use the fresh sage or did it make your fridge smell good for a few days before it shriveled up and turned brown and gooey and you had to throw it out? Not that that happens to me or anything ...

Sara G said...

I rather like real life MEP. Just so you know...

cake said...

a beautiful post. and they sound like fabulous cookies! i have not, myself, put whole grain flour in a cookie recipe, but i did try an oatmeal raisin with ww flour substituted for regular, in the kitchen where i work. i was surprised by the delightful texture and flavor.

E... said...

Was just checking out Orangette, as I often do, and she is currently in love with these SAME chocolate chip cookies. Check out her latest blog post. Weird and cool! We're definitely making them soon around here.

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