This morning at our town’s famer’s market I was talking with
a friend who is a freelance PR person and works from home. She asked how my summer was going and I said, “I
feel as if I am up to my shoulders in a vat of molasses.” She knew exactly what
There are two parenting camps when it comes to summer break:
Those who look forward to the copious amount of carefree time spent with their
children, and those who don’t.
Parents who work from home seem to often fall into the
latter group. I do for sure. Not because I don’t love my four daughters, but
more so because while they are home from school for three months, they (and
seemingly all of the neighborhood kids) seem to spend most of their time standing,
sitting or running through my office (because as a food writer, my office is my
I always wanted to have that
house. The house in which everyone felt comfortable — where every kid knew that
they could get a sandwich, use the bathroom, get a drink of water or just
chill out for a while. And I honestly feel fortunate to have created that
atmosphere in our home.
Except when I am trying to work ... but can’t because of all the people in my office.
This has been the case all summer.
Of course, I am not alone. So many parents work from home
these days, and it’s a great gig when one’s office isn’t crammed with dirty
dishes, half-consumed bags of bagel chips and counters strewn with vegetable
I marched back inside, determined to have a good, productive attitude, and found the dog now vomiting up the bird’s head.
So, this summer my plan was to give in to the chaos and take
on fewer deadlines until September. Just the idea of this relaxed me a bit before
school let out this past June. I would just hang out with the kids; make snacks
round the clock, be an ear if needed, a nurse when necessary and a chauffeur on
Then, on day one
of summer break, I was offered a cookbook contract — my first ever. This is
something that I had been working toward for literally 20 years. I was so
happy when I got the call from the publisher that I sobbed. This was more than
success; it was steeped in meaning, showing what it means to be patient and tenacious
and not take "no" for an answer.
The next morning, I woke up to the sound of chirping birds and
the warming rays of sunshine. I made breakfast for my 9-year-old twins, did the
dishes, tidied up the kitchen and was ready to get down to work after I drove
one of the twins to her "reading camp." I returned home and realized that one of
my teenage daughters had woken up and made herself breakfast, leaving the
kitchen a wreck. Still trying to hear the birds chirping, I yelled up to my
daughter Claire and asked her to come down and clean up the kitchen. Now.
Please. Although it took 15 minutes, she did eventually come down and clean up.
The sun was still shining but the birds had quieted. I mean
that they literally quieted because at exactly that moment, one of our three
dogs very proudly pranced inside with a headless bird in her mouth. I chased
her (and the bird body) around the house as my other 9-year-old alternated
between screaming and hiding her face in her hands. Finally catching the dog, I
pried the bird from her jaws, carried it out outside, placed it beneath a bush
and said a little prayer. I marched back inside, determined to have a good,
productive attitude, and found the dog now vomiting up the bird’s head.