Wednesday, August 24, 2005

what she did for love

When I was little, my mom used to bake her own bread. It’s one thing to bake cookies or muffins, a special treat that will be oohed and ahhed over, but a thankless, everyday item like wheat bread—that’s hardcore. At the time, I was mainly embarrassed that my sandwiches were twice as thick as those of my classmates. My friend Cara brought neat little squares of egg salad on store-bought white bread with the crusts cut off. For the longest time I thought they were cake.

My mom didn’t make the bread from scratch. She wasn’t Martha Stuart, and she wasn’t all that into cooking. But that makes the love and dedication of baking and slicing even frozen loaves once a week all the more impressive.

Recently I decided to do the same. Not every week, but, well, once. I bought a three-pack of frozen bread dough and, after leaving it in my freezer for a few weeks, I took it out and read the baking instructions. They involved buttering a pan, and there was something about covering the dough and letting it rise, but I couldn’t figure out if this was part of the thawing process or not, and if it was supposed to happen in the fridge or on the counter.

I sighed and put the dough back in the freezer. As frequently happens, I was amazed by my own laziness.

But it got me thinking about the other above-and-beyond acts of labor my mom committed, such as ironing my homework when my little OCD self wrinkled it too much by erasing and then threw a fit. Making me a last-minute turtle outfit when I decided Goldilocks was a lame Halloween costume (hello, the girl was a fussy, high-maintenance criminal). Driving me all the way to Torrance so I could work for free at a dance studio to counteract my freshman teen angst (my dad gets big points in the shuttling arena as well).

I wonder if I will be even half as generous when I’m a mom. I know love makes you do things you never thought possible, and I have been known to make late night ice cream runs for a girlfriend with a sore throat, but I can’t help thinking, Hell no, I’m not ironing anyone’s homework. I don’t even iron my clothes. (The OCD has died down, trumped again by laziness, much in the same way that my fear of elevators subsided after I moved into a sixth floor dorm). Maybe my kids will just have to be resourceful, or maybe it’s just evidence that I’m not going to be signing any adoption papers for a few years. When I finally do, I’ll tell the little ones stories of Grandma Valerie as they eat their frozen dinners.

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