Tonight I'm feeling thoughtful. I discovered (quite by accident) that #1 Son was assigned to bring a dessert to his school picnic this Friday. I pondered this for a bit. Not so much why he didn't mention it; he so rarely notices assignments given at school, and when he does notice, he keeps them to himself-- or only shares them with "Mommy," who isn't around to do anything about it.
Anyway, not that. It was the nature of a dessert for him that I turned over in my head for a while. See, we've taken him off of sugar and white flour in a desperate attempt to get him to settle down and pay attention in school. It seems to be helping somewhat. He's not nearly as hyper at home, anyway, no matter how hard he tries.
Eventually, it came to me: whole-wheat oatmeal-raisin cookies! I could do that. And hey, I could make a batch with chocolate chips for the rest of us. Perfect. So I set to work. I'd finished two of my projects for the week and was pretty achy, but it's just what you do. Besides, I'd been looking for something to do for the boy. He's been looking haggard lately and probably thinks we don't love him because we've had to scold him about his grades again. Sigh.
Baking cookies is my secret therapy. I get to crack eggs, beat the batter, and generally make the ingredients do my bidding. The results are always delightful, which gives me a sense of well-being and self-esteem, at least while the lovely aroma lingers.
I'm good at baking cookies. Really good. I've had lots of practice. I baked cookies at least once a week for the whole year I was going through my divorce and quite often afterward. I mostly didn't eat what I baked; I brought them to work or to parties or sent them to faraway friends. But I kept on baking. I needed to.
I noticed tonight that baking cookies (maybe it's just the oatmeal ones) brings back memories of the Hale Koa Hotel in Waikiki. Most of you haven't been there; it's for military personnel and civilians who worked with them. We always had our holiday parties there. I can see so clearly the dimming sunset over the Hale Koa and the Hilton as I looked across from the parking garage. What was I doing there, and what did it have to do with cookies, I wondered.
Then I remembered. That last December in Hawaii. I must have been baking like a fiend. I'm sure I was. I was 3 1/2 months pregnant, and my baby was going to die. The doctors were trying to get me to have an abortion, but I couldn't, I just couldn't do it. They thought I was an idiot, I suppose. Stupid doctors. I'd seen that little guy on the ultrasound. He had hands and toes and a face and was oh, so active all the time. I just couldn't.
So I baked, and time passed. When I went to the Christmas party that year, my dress was uncomfortably tight, but I wasn't going to buy something new when there was no telling whether or when I'd ever be pregnant and in need of a formal again. So I wore my maid of honor dress from Fuhzzy's wedding and tried to smile. Well, mostly I tried to breathe. That night was so hard. So hard. But I wanted to make nice with the brass, and they wanted everyone to be at the party. Most of me was there. It was the best I could do.
Then just before Christmas, the doctors and I reached a compromise: They induced labor and, after 36 hours of intense agony that was only half physical, I gave birth to a very tiny and very dead son. Aside from the birth defect, he was turning out just beautiful. He had his dad's nose. So precious. So far from my reach, though right under my fingers.
So I baked then, and so I bake now for another son, who is just as far out of my reach, it seems. He will take these cookies to the picnic on Friday, where his (part-time) Mommy will meet him and play with him and tell him she loves him and take him far away. And he will associate the smell and taste of homemade cookies baked just for him-- with her.