It was a busy weekend. On Friday night’s agenda was a dinner party for my husband’s co-workers. This dinner party required me to prepare a very nice sit- down meal, including dessert, for nine people, many of whom I had met only once. Further, my husband would not be around to help. The dinner went really well, and we were left with a kitchen full of dirty dishes when the last guest departed at 11:30pm. We tackled the kitchen immediately, and fell asleep around 1:30am. The next morning we awoke to prepare our home for our son Charlie’s 3rd birthday party.
(You may reasonably wonder why these two events were on back-to-back days. Well, the previous weekend the Eagles unexpectedly beat the defending Super Bowl champs, earning them a trip to the NFC Championship game on Sunday. This necessitated a last-minute move of Charlie’s party from Saturday to Sunday. Anyhow, back to the story.)
Excuses aside, throwing two parties less than 24 hours apart was a lofty goal. I immediately got to work on Saturday morning. Sleep-deprived and juiced-up on coffee, I was planning to make Charlie’s birthday cake, cupcakes , and butter cream icing. Thinking I could save some time, I tried to make all three simultaneously. I doubled the cake recipe, pouring one half into a spring foam pan, and the other half into cupcakes. I popped both into the oven and set two timers. I then cleaned my mixer and got to work on my butter cream icing.
Twenty minutes into my icing prep, I smelled something burning. I immediately checked my cake. I had placed the cake on the top rack and the cupcakes on the bottom (they didn’t fit side by side). BIG mistake. The top of my cake was burned and the bottom of my cupcakes burned. I could salvage the cake by scrapping off the burned part on top and using extra icing, but the cupcakes were unsalvageable.
Once I smelled the cake burning, I rushed through my icing recipe to get the cake out of the oven. In doing so, I poured the melted sugar mixture too quickly into my meringue mixture and cooked the eggs! Thousands of little lumps dominated the icing. Six sticks of butter, seven eggs, and an entire package of sugar were completely unusable. I had to ditch the entire bowl of icing and begin again. I checked the fridge for more butter and came up 4 sticks short. An immediate trip to the store was necessary.
Two hours and about $20 worth of ingredients later, I had remade my cupcakes and icing. Guests would be arriving soon and the house was a mess, Charlie’s gift wasn’t wrapped, I hadn’t prepared any of the other food, I hadn’t taken a shower, and the kids were still in their pajamas! In an effort to save myself a half-hour of time, I had ruined everything, and cost us hours of precious time and some money.
The events of this Saturday morning were a microcosm of my life. In an effort to accomplish too many things, I wind up doing all of the tasks poorly and causing stress for everyone else.
When I was a college student, committing to many different activities was an expected part of responsible service to our Church. I bounced from one activity to the next, sometimes with little regard for my own needs for sleep and food.
But now I am a wife and a mother of multiple young children, and committing to outside activities must be a prayerful and serious decision because those commitments affect so many other people. As a social person, it is a constant challenge for me to learn to say No. As our family grows and my children get older, my responsibilities continue to increase. While I think it is important that young mothers serve outside their home in some capacity, those areas of service should be prayerfully discerned and limited. I am by no means advocating that we all become hermits. I do think, however, that I need to put first things first. My husband and family are often asked to make sacrifices because I’ve spread myself thin taking on too many commitments. Our time is limited and very valuable, and the use of our time should be the subject of much prayer and discernment.
Otherwise, you might be eating burnt cake.