The other day I was the “Check-In Parent” for the dress rehearsal of Bebe’s latest musical theatre adventure. In addition to marking down the actors’ names and directing them to their dressing room, I also collected the offerings for the bake sale.
Two words that elicit eye rolls, sighs and even expletives from many of us. Is it because we have something against cakes, cookies and muffins? Of course not. It’s because those words conjure up visions of staying up after everyone else has been taken care of and everything else has been accomplished on our to-do lists to whip up something presentation-worthy. Because experience has told us store-bought simply isn’t good enough.
Which is why there were two kinds of moms handing over baked goods. Those with home-baked confections who looked me in the eye and smiled proudly with a “Here you go!” Then there were the moms with their store-bought, plastic clamshell containers and apologetic posture. “I didn’t have time to bake,” said one. “It was a busy week,” offered another.
I’ve been that apologizing mom before because busy weeks and a desire to spend my time doing so many other things kept me from baking something fabulous. I’ve also been the mom met with a disproving glance, an “It was so nice of you to bring something," and “We’ll just put this in the back.” It used to chip away at my self-esteem and threaten my confidence as a mom. But I got over that when I stopped caring what the moms—or anyone else—thought about my choices. I figured out that if I was going to have the time and energy to accomplish the things that were important to me—including the parts of parenting that I really wanted to focus on—I had to let go of other people’s opinions of my parenting. Which also meant I had to let go of judging anyone else’s choices.
At my check-in post, I thanked and applauded the moms who delivered the beautiful home-made goodies. Because they deserve it. And I thanked and applauded the moms who delivered the beautiful store-bought goodies. Because they deserve it too. And I reminded them that no apology was necessary. “These look amazing, and you also supported someone else’s business. Good job, Mom.” My winks were met with smiles that said, “Oh, you get me.”
You bet your ass I get you. I’m one of you. And I implore all of us to stop apologizing for the things we don’t put on our parental to-do lists, whether it’s baking or hand-making Valentine's cards or the bows for our child's dance troupe. If you do those things, I’m the first to admire your handiwork, and I will always cheer you on for spending time on what’s important to you.
But if you didn’t put baking on your to-do list this week, OWN IT. If you never do because baking just isn’t your thing, OWN THAT TOO. And then put your store-bought brownies next to my box from Trader Joe’s.