Slices of Life By: Jill Pertler-Becoming a breadwinner
November 8, 2013
I’ve never been much of a breadwinner. Heck, I’m not much of a bread baker, and possess neither the mixing nor measuring skills required to take home any ribbons from any country fair. My youngest son, however, thinks otherwise. In his eyes, I am not only a breadwinner; I am a bread champion. His beliefs stem from one simple truth: for the last three years, I have been living a lie. My deception started out small, as most lies do, but over time it expanded until it had doubled in size. I entered the soon-to-be-sticky situation with the best of intentions - as an innocent volunteer during bread-making day in my son’s third grade classroom. Ever since that fateful event, he has believed I have the ability to make bread. From scratch nonetheless. Since I am an imperfect mom, I have done nothing to correct his misconception. There was only one way for me to pull off this magnificent - albeit dishonest - feat. I cheated. Not right away. At first I tried. I really tried to make bread with my own two hands, but all I got from my efforts was the equivalent of baked floury hockey pucks. After numerous trials (and failures) I got tired of feeding my family inedible bread and did what no mom is ever supposed to do; I gave up. I bought a package of the frozen bread dough, baked it and served it up at suppertime. I wasn’t even planning on taking credit for the beautifully browned loaf of sustenance, but my son gazed at me with his big blue trusting eyes and said, “See mom, I knew you could learn to make bread if you tried hard enough. It’s just like you tell me about working hard at school.” Oh my. And with that, the story of me being a from-scratch baker emerged like that tiny mustard seed. I am not proud. My lack of truthfulness - not to mention bread-making skills - has weighed heavy on me. A couple of weeks ago I decided it was time to wipe the pastry board clean and begin anew. You might think this meant fessing up to my kid. Naw. Instead, I returned to the world of flour and yeast, anxious to get my hands dirty. I had a need to knead and my resolve was rising; I vowed to get it right this time. My first attempt at “very easy yeast rolls,” appeared promising at the start. The ingredients combined to resemble dough (always a positive sign), which grew to twice its size. Next, the recipe called for the mixture to be punched down and allowed time to expand again. While punching seemed an awfully violent food preparation technique, I did as I was told. Unfortunately, my dough was deader than a hockey puck and failed to rise again. The next morning at the grocery store, I passed the frozen bread section and paused. Temptation hovered, whispering in my ear, but after much consternation, I managed to maneuver my cart over to the baking aisle. I grabbed a multi-pack of yeast and headed toward the check out with as much optimism as a gal can muster with a breakfast of heavy, peanut-butter-laced hockey pucks digesting in her stomach. I’m relieved to report my second attempt turned out more edible than the first. I’ve since baked another successful loaf along with two batches of from-scratch biscuits. I’m on my way to becoming the mom some people in my house believe me to be. Or, perhaps I already am. My adventures in the kitchen have taught me making bread from scratch isn’t needed - or kneaded - to make me a good mom. Not really. My son doesn’t love me because I bake him bread. He loves me because I am his mom. In turn, I enjoy doing nice things for him because he is my son. It’s as simple as that. Sometimes the biggest and most important lessons in life are simple. Learning them makes one a true breadwinner - whether you bake bread, or not. Jill Pertler is an award-winning syndicated columnist, playwright and author of “The Do-It-Yourselfer’s Guide to Self-Syndication” You can read more columns at the Slices of Life page on Facebook.
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