My son reminded me when I got home today that he needed thirty gingerbread men cookies for his birthday treat the following day--the last day before Christmas (his birthday is the 23rd). "Oh, wow, I forgot about that," I said. "Would they settle for chocolate chip?"
He drooped. "It's sort of a tradition." This was true. I've been making them for him since he was a little tike.
"Okay," I said, feeling sentimental. So off to the store I went, only to find that two different stores didn't have the dough-in-a-tube that I was counting on. I looked for a box mix. No going. Apparently no one who worked there had ever heard of gingerbread--and this was a giant store! I called Ian at home and told him to find me the from-scratch recipe and read me the ingredients. He did so, and I packed them all into the cart, until I got to "Molasses." There was none on the shelf. A trip to the service desk, a page to the grocery department, and I was told that they were out of molasses. Of course.
I finally did find a box mix and dragged back home to start making it. While I was rolling the dough, I heard sounds of a typical boy argument: one taunting, one reacting. Then I heard a little voice: "Mom! Ian's being a jerk right by Christmas!"
"Stop it," I said. Cookies in the oven and more rolling. Finally I had a batch cooled and ready to write names on. I held my frosting tube ready, prepared to make fat letters on each tiny man. "Ian," I said. "Start reading me names." Ian floated in with his class list.
"Okay. The first one is Stephanie."
"You're joking," I said.
"You can call her Steph," he offered. It ended up looking more like Step, but how could they complain? I was attempting to validate their identities in frosting. They'd cut me some slack, right?
I sighed. They were all like that. His classmates have the longest names in the world, and apparently they actually call each other by these formal monikers like Mary Katherine and Benjamin. I did the best I could with each cookie while my nine-year-old continually crept in to steal dough. Soon, I knew, he would tell me he had a stomach ache.
Finally the cookies were labeled, packed, and carefully stowed away until tomorrow's delivery. I had earned my mother's stripes for another year. But I was strangely exhausted; making cookies is not an arduous task, but one would think I'd just run a marathon.
The good news is that after tomorrow I'll be on a holiday break. Sure, I'll have to bring papers and journals and projects home with me, unwelcome as they might be in my holiday relaxation plans. But there should be plenty of put-up-your-feet-and-read time, and no "Mom I need this tomorrow" emergencies for a blessed two weeks.
On the other hand, there will be fighting--lots of fighting. So I'll have to polish off my referee shirt and accept the idea: there's no vacation from being a mom--not even at Christmas. :)