Saturday, December 20, 2014

CHICKEN SOUP FOR THE SOUL: ‘Homemade dinner was not worth what I gave up to make it’

By AMY NEWKIRK, Chicken Soup for the Soul | 10/4/2013

Sometimes the best thing a busy mother can do for her family is say “no.” Judy A. Weist finally figured this out and teaches us a valuable lesson in her story “The Sweet Stuff” from “Chicken Soup for the Soul: Say Goodbye to Stress.”

It all started when Judy felt like a bad mom for bringing a bottle of apple juice to school instead of home-baked treats. “I promised myself, the next party, I would be like the other proud moms who stood closely beside their baked items as if to say, ‘See me? I baked. I’m a good mom.’” The only problem was finding time for cookie baking. As a working mom, she filled all her non-working time with household chores and quality time with her kids.

Sometimes the best thing a busy mother can do for her family is say “no.” Judy A. Weist finally figured this out and teaches us a valuable lesson in her story “The Sweet Stuff” from “Chicken Soup for the Soul: Say Goodbye to Stress.”

It all started when Judy felt like a bad mom for bringing a bottle of apple juice to school instead of home-baked treats. “I promised myself, the next party, I would be like the other proud moms who stood closely beside their baked items as if to say, ‘See me? I baked. I’m a good mom.’” The only problem was finding time for cookie baking. As a working mom, she filled all her non-working time with household chores and quality time with her kids.

So at the next party, Judy made cookies ... from a mix. But one of the other mothers asked if they were homemade. “It was then, I realized, there was a rating on the bake scale,” she explains. “From a box, low score. From a mix, just passing. From scratch ... now that’s topnotch.” Judy went back to the drawing board.

For years after, Judy tried to keep up, answering the demands for cookies and potato salad from scratch. Until she made a home-cooked meal for a church event and in the process didn’t have time to help her daughter replace her painfully tight shoes. “What was I doing?” Judy asked herself. “I realized my homemade dinner was not worth what I gave up to make it.”

The turning point came the following week, when Judy received a last-minute call to bring pasta salad. Looking at her family, snuggled in for movie night, Judy made a decision. The next day, she bought two pounds of macaroni salad from a deli, put them in her own bowl, and sprinkled paprika on top. “My kids are now in college,” Judy writes. “They can recall childhood things such as movie nights, silly songs and games at the fair. But honestly, they can’t remember one cupcake or cookie from a school party.”

•••

  My husband and I have four grown children, two each from our first marriages. While we initially talked about our “stepchildren,” that has really gone by the wayside. We just plain have four children now, and when two of them get married next year, we’ll have two more kids to enjoy! I think stepchildren are a wonderful bonus of second marriages. So I loved how Andrea Peebles became a stepmother in a very unusual way, as told in her story called “Reunion” in “Chicken Soup for the Soul: Parenthood.”

When Andrea met her husband, she was divorced with three small children. “While he always assured me he was perfectly content being a father to my children,” she writes, “I knew he had always wanted a child of his own, and for years I carried a lot of guilt because of that.”

One day, while driving, Andrea received a call from someone named Cozette. She had been adopted as a child but because of fertility issues had investigated her medical records. She had found that Andrea’s husband was her father.

Andrea was sure Cozette was wrong. “Honey, I know you really want to find your biological father, but I’m afraid you probably have the wrong person,” Andrea said. But when Cozette said her biological mother was named Deborah — Andrea’s husband’s ex-girlfriend’s name — she realized Cozette was probably right. And her world turned upside-down.

They talked for the rest of Andrea’s two-hour drive. Cozette said she was afraid Andrea was going to hang up on her to start, or that her father might not want anything to do with her. “I remember thinking how silly that sounded,” Andrea writes. “He had been waiting for her all of his life. I assured her he would call her as soon as he got home ... and of course he did.”

“At 50 years old and after 26 years of marriage, we got our fourth child,” Andrea writes. It was a true blessing for Andrea and her husband, especially after Cozette was finally able to have children, and they gained another very special family addition — two little grandsons.

Syndicated by Chicken Soup for the Soul Publishing, online at www.chickensoup.com

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