The Pursuit of Imperfection

homemade challah disaster

Things have been going pretty well on the home front lately. Both kids are doing well in school. My daughter has finally started reading for fun and my son has stopped head butting people for fun. There’s been an increase in vegetable eating and we haven’t had an outbreak of lice in our family in almost a year.

Like any 21st century mom, I’ve shared a lot of this great news (and accompanying photos) on Facebook. Then yesterday, I shared something different. I shared a photo of a failure. My daughter and I attempted to make a challah for Friday night dinner. As you can see from the photo above, it didn’t really work out that well. No seriously, that’s what it looked like AFTER it baked.

I was annoyed. For half a second I wanted to throw the bread across the room. It didn’t help when my daughter suggested that we should have called Grandma for advice.

Then I thought about it and I started to laugh. Friday was what our school district euphemistically calls a “half day” of school. Why I should trust anyone who thinks 8-11 is a “half day of school” with my children’s math education is a mystery for another time. The “half day” meant that I started work at my paying job early to try and cram as much in as I could before picking the kids up. While working feverishly to get a project that’s launching on Monday done I got a call from a friend. She’s sick, can I grab her kid from school and keep him for a while too. Of course, I can.

At 11, I rushed to get my kids and the friend. I wanted to go home and finish my work project, but I also didn’t want to be responsible for three kids spending their “half day” in front of the TV. So, we went to lunch and the local Conservatory. When we did finally go home, my daughter and I started the bread making process. We don’t usually make our own challah, but it was a “half day” and my daughter wanted to do something special, especially since her brother had a friend over, so I said sure. I also started the laundry and dinner.

When the bread was “done” I did not throw it, in all its pathetic glory, across the room. I placed it on the challah board and covered it with it’s special cover. I swore my daughter to secrecy about it’s unique state. When my husband came home my daughter and I raved about our homemade challah.

In our family the kids say the blessing over the bread in Hebrew first, then in English. The translation we use says, “Blessed are you, lord our god, king of the Universe, who causes grain to spring from the Earth.” At “spring” the kids “spring” the challah cover off the bread. Given the lack of springiness of this particular bread, my daughter and I were in hysterics by the time she and her brother got to those words.

On Friday I worked, I did laundry, I made dinner, I kept my kids and someone else’s fed, alive, active, and engaged for 5 hours. If something had to turn out badly yesterday I’m glad it was the bread.

I’ve written before about the danger of the “perfect” images everyone presents on blogs and Facebook. I wonder how great it would be if we all started also posting those less than perfect images instead. Yes, we all have the right to be proud of our accomplishments and our kids’ accomplishments. But I wonder what would happen if we took equal pride  in letting each other know that sometimes, it doesn’t all work out.

My daughter will eat thousands of challahs in her childhood. Most of those challahs will be perfect. They will be bought at the local bread store, or made by her grandmother. But if I had to wager a guess I’d say that none of them will be as memorable as this one.

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