Sometimes Perseverance isn’t Best

Have you ever found yourself in a sticky situation where you can either just stop and start all over again, or keep pushing on and see if you can fix it? 

So today I set out to make bread. I’ve been making our bread for the past couple months. It’s cheaper, homemade bread tastes better, I’ve been in the mood to bake. Win win. 

When I bake I do a large double recipe that takes almost an entire five pound bag of flour, maybe a fourth of a cup left in the bag when I’m done. I don’t measure the flour. Just dump it in until the dough is at the right consistency. 

I was just about to start dumping flour in when I remembered that my daughter had made muffins the night before and used four cups of flour. I paused for a second. I didn’t have any other flour in the house that I knew of, but I was only four cups short. All my wet ingredients were already mixed together. I could just add some oatmeal. That should take care of it. 

I dumped in all the flour, let it mix for a while and saw that my dough wasn’t even close to forming a ball. I dumped in some quick oats, let it mix for a while. Still wasn’t forming a ball. Hmm. What should I do? I searched all the cupboards and found some potato flakes. Well, I’d seen a bread recipe that used potato flakes, why not? So I dumped them in. Walked away from my mixer a while then came back when I heard loud noises. What I came back to was dough that was way too thick and way too dry and way too heavy for my mixer to handle. Hmm. Ok. I’ll knead it by hand and add some oil and water. I dumped it on my table and made an attempt at adding a bit more water. It instantly got slimy and gross. Yuck. So then I decided to divide the dough in half and just put half back in the mixer. Do it in smaller batches!

The dough refused to get any softer or malleable. By now my mixer was starting to treat this substance with disdain.

I ended up kneading the two halves by hand and then dumped them in a bowl to rise. Now what?  Should I just throw it away or keep trying? 

Not one to give up, I stuck it in the oven, warmed it up a bit and left it to rise. 

I let it rise for four hours. It didn’t double or anything, but it did get a little puffier. I could not picture any of my family eating this. I knew, from past mistakes and experiments, that this bread was going to be very dense, very dry, and very unpopular. 

So then I got another brilliant idea. I won’t bake the bread, I’ll cook it like it’s an English muffin and fry it on a skillet. Everyone likes English muffins, right? 

Me and the five year old rolled out all the dough like I was making biscuits and used a biscuit cutter and cut out a million circles (two and half large trays worth). Then I put them back in the slightly warm oven to rise again.  I let them rise for another two hours then got out the skillet and started frying. 

And the whole time I’m thinking, why am I doing this? No one is going to eat these. 

I am now the proud owner of three large ziploc bags full of my hockey puck bread creations. As I told my husband, they’re not bad…They’re not amazing…But they’re not bad. Will any of my children eat these? I’m going to guess that one or two might try one, but that’s it. My husband will be loyal and eat one or two, assuring me that it tastes great. But he won’t go back for more. I will eat a couple out of stubbornness. (They remind me of the elven bread in Tolkien’s books). And the rest will sit there on the counter for probably a week or two until I finally give up and throw the silly things away. 

I’m sure this reveals something about my character. Not sure if I want to know what it is though.

Sometimes I’m an awesome cook. And sometimes, I’m not. And usually, when I’m not, it’s cause I was trying to fix something that went wrong.  

Anger Management

I lost it this morning. 

 

While trying to correct a certain child’s behavior, while I was in the middle of moving a very large pot of boiling hot oatmeal onto our buffet, I managed to spill the entire pot on the floor. No one got burned. My slippers DID get covered in oatmeal. I sent all the hovering children to their bedrooms and told them I would call them when breakfast was ready. I went in my room, put on socks and shoes, announced that I was going to the pharmacy (an errand I had planned on doing after breakfast) and that I would make breakfast when I got home. The fifteen minute errand barely calmed me down, and when I got home and had to start scooping up oatmeal off the floor, I felt my emotions start boiling again. I picked up the worst of the oatmeal and announced that I was going to the store to buy cereal. I didn’t have it in me to cook another breakfast. I went to the store, bought cereal, corn dogs and apples, returned to the house, called everyone to breakfast and announced to my husband that I was going out for an indefinite amount of time. Here’s food to keep you covered while I’m gone. (Just to keep it real, while I didn’t say anything mean to anyone this entire time, I was practically vibrating with pent up frustration.)

 

And then I took myself out for breakfast and escaped to the library. My happy place. 

 

And I started doing research on Anger. It has been the topic of conversation in our house for the last couple days. How do you help children who are dealing with a lot of anger? How do we help kids realize that Anger in itself is not a problem, it’s what you do with it? How do we help kids understand that Big Hard Emotions are not something to run away from or pretend they don’t exist, but we have to find healing ways to handle these emotions, not damaging ways that just make the problem worse? 

 

As I have been brain-storming, trying to help the children in my life with their anger problems, it was a bit of a surprise to find myself completely losing it this morning. Why am I so angry?? 

 

I found a really good article online put out by The Center for Parenting Education, called “Parents Anger Turning Down the Heat in Your Home”. The quote that helped me is this:

 

“Many times what passes for anger is actually another emotion such as sadness, jealousy, hopelessness, the sense of being ignored, overworked, overlooked, disappointed, or exhausted.”

 

Ah. Yes. That makes sense. I am definitely feeling overworked and exhausted. Overwhelmed. In need of a break. 

 

On my way out the door, I told my husband that I just needed some time off. I said I probably hadn’t been anywhere in over six weeks. But, if I think that one through, I honestly can’t remember the last time I just took a day off. It’s got to have been a lot longer than six weeks. 

 

And so, I am taking a Mental Health day. Hang out in a building full of books. Maybe do some shopping. Maybe call some people. Recharge. And maybe, in a roundabout way, this will be helpful to the kids in my life. Look, I get angry and overwhelmed too. Let me demonstrate to you a healthy way of dealing with it.