Sunday had the makings of the perfect family day. The plan was to get up early, bake up a nice batch of hamantaschen, have lunch, and then go to our synagogue’s Purim carnival as a happy little bunch. My husband and I had strategized the night before: He’d take care of our twin 14-month-olds in the morning to give me and our 4-year-old some uninterrupted baking time, and then we’d cart the kids off to the carnival for some fun and games.
Well you know what they say about the best laid plans. My husband woke up with a headache and back pain, and by about 9 a.m., it escalated to the point where he could barely stand, let alone help take care of little children. He felt dizzy and lightheaded, and he clearly needed to tuck himself back into bed and rest.
But rather than give up on our hamantaschen-baking plans, I decided to power though. After all, I’d promised my son we’d make them, and I didn’t want to let him down. And I also knew that if we didn’t work on them that day, we’d have no chance of getting them done in time to include in our mishloach manot (Purim gift baskets).
So I did what I do pretty much every day when I’m home alone with my kids: I juggled. In between measuring flour and rolling out dough, I comforted a pair of crying babies and changed dirty diapers. (Rest assured, I made sure to wash my hands very, very well before continuing with the baking.) I rolled out the dough, quickly ran to the give the girls their bottles, and got back to the counter in time to form what my son and I agreed were some pretty nicely shaped hamantaschen. I stuck our baking sheets in the oven, whisked the girls upstairs for a nap, and took a deep breath. I’d somehow managed to pull off a pretty involved baking project in the midst of caring for the kids.
But just when I started feeling like a rock star, things began to unravel. My son got hungry and demanded lunch at the exact moment I needed to check on the dog, who’d been sick for days. I only had a few minutes left on the hamantaschen baking time but figured I could squeeze in both tasks before taking them out.
Big mistake. When I got downstairs, I was greeted by a sad-looking dog and a puddle of urine, which I proceeded to step in. Thoughts of baking hamantaschen were replaced by my immediate desire to clean off not only my foot, but the mess on the floor. It only took a couple of minutes, but by the time I got back upstairs, I could already smell disaster. And sure enough, there were my hamantaschen, burned and destroyed.
I pulled them out of the oven immediately in the hopes of salvaging a few, but by and large, the cookies my son and I had worked so hard on all morning were ruined. And so I did the opposite of what any normal, well-adjusted parent would do. I cried. (In my defense, it was just a brief little spattering of tears, and I didn’t let my son see it.)
“I’m sorry,” I told my son as I held up the scorched cookies for him to see. “Mommy left the hamantaschen in the oven too long, and most of them got ruined. We’re going to have to throw these away.”
I was visibly disappointed, as was my son—he, at the loss of tasty cookies, and me, at my failure to multitask, and for the fact that Purim only comes around once a year, yet I’d managed to ruin ours by botching what was supposed to be the highlight of our mishloach manot baskets.
I was bracing myself for the waterworks to start flowing from my son’s eyes, but that didn’t happen. Instead, he just looked at me and said, “Well, I think they also sell hamantaschen in the store, Mommy. Why don’t we just buy some?”
“You’re right,” I told him. “That’s a very a good idea. And that way there will be plenty of hamantaschen for us to eat. Still, I’m sorry we can’t eat the ones we worked so hard on.”
“It’s OK, Mommy,” he answered. “I still had fun making them with you.”
It was then that my tears started flowing at full force, only this time not for the silly reason I’d started crying just moments ago.
We may not have a tasty batch of homemade hamantaschen to eat and distribute this year, but I did give my son a fun morning and some memories to go along with it. And in that regard, I guess the day wasn’t such a whopping failure after all.