Tis the season for holiday parties! It’s time to unearth those Pinterest-worthy recipes and actually make them for friends who are no longer counting calories. It’s time to slip out of dog-hair-covered-leggings and in to a festive frock. It’s time to sip signature cocktails with cutesy nicknames, like Jingle Juice. It’s time to celebrate…if you can find the time. 

Time is never on a mom’s side, is it? 

I was recently struck by the Herculean effort I had to make to attend my friend’s holiday cookie swap. I needed three kid-free hours, and had to go through 51 steps to get them. It went a little something like this:
1.     Read invitation. Smile at the thought of a night out with friends overindulging on cookies.
2.     Consider dusting off one of my beloved mom’s recipes for the soiree. Which one should I make?
3.     Commence mental masturbation about cookies.
4.     I could go for a cookie right about now.
5.     Pilfer through the pantry to find a store-bought cookie. There’s one left. Sorry, kids. Mama needs a cookie.
6.     Take a bite. It’s stale. Of course.
7.     Chuckle. Who am I to think I could actually eat a cookie when I want one?!
8.     Re-focus on the invitation.
9.     Take notice of the date and time. It’s on a Thursday at 7:00 p.m. Is that a typo?
10.  Swear, with an emphasis on saying “f*ck” maybe 7 times.
11.  Hip-check myself. Chuckle again—this time in an odd, maniacal way –at the thought of being able to go to anything but sports practice on a Thursday at 7:00 p.m.
12.  Wonder if other moms have secret sarcastic laughs they break out during fits of lunacy brought on by dealing with children, work, bills, competing responsibilities, attitudes, extra-curricular activities, holiday parties, and a profound lack of sleep every day.
13.  Worry about what the neighbors would think if they heard my alone laugh. Did they hear it? It was a pretty loud and sinister laugh, if I do say so myself.
14.  Whatever. F*ck  the neighbors.
15.  Immediately dismiss the thought of attending. There’s a perfect storm brewing that will prevent me from doing anything but parenting. It is what it is.
16.  Hockey practice. Wrestling practice. Husband’s hour commute home. Dinner preparation, in whatever form it takes that day. 7:00 p.m. on a Thursday?! There’s a better chance of me waking up not looking like I boxed a round with Adonnis Creed.
17.  Under-eye bags suck. Why must we have them? Or cellulite for that matter?
18.  Ponder life’s sh*tstorms that take the form of under-eye bags, wrinkles, cellulite, fat…oh, and traffic. I hate traffic. Why do we need to deal with traffic? Especially now with people risking life and limb to get off the highway to fight for a parking spot at the mall.
19.  Think about how I should be one of those people. I am way behind on holiday shopping.
20.  Vow to shop online. Log on to a couple of my favorite sites and put items in my cart. Notice my ATM card is missing.
21.  Frantic search for my ATM card ensues. After panic sets in, and my in-home cardio sprint up and down the stairs multiple times is complete, I remember I left it in my jacket pocket after pumping gas.
22.  I exhale, finally, but forget what I needed the card for after all of the commotion. Inadvertently abandon items in my online shopping cart.
23.  Contact my friend who is a chef to ask her for cookie ideas. She says her go-to are my brown sugar oatmeal cookies.
24.  Adopt a little cookie swagger. She likes my cookies. A chef. My cookies. Yup!
25.  Decide I am going to the cookie swap, no matter what I have to do. I mean, I have a chef in my corner who is willing to attest to my cookie prowess.
26.  A Thursday night? Maybe my friend will allow kids.
27.  Text and ask if I can bring my son after his hockey practice if need be, since our boys are friends.
28.  Suffer rejection. Her kids will be gone that night so we can just be adults. No mom-ing allowed. Sigh.
29.  Ask my husband if he can leave early, arrange for someone to take my stepson to wrestling practice, and take my son to hockey practice. And it’s an affirmative!
30.  Think about how much I love my man.
31.  Respond “yes” to the invitation, triumphantly.
32.  Receive notification a week later that we have to bake eight dozen cookies for the swap.
33.  Eight dozen? How many cookies is that?! Try (and fail) mental math to come up with the answer.
34.  According to the calculator on my phone, I have to make 96 cookies.
35.  It’s under 100. No big deal. I’ve got this.
36.  Vow to prioritize making the cookies so I am not rushing last-minute. Decide I will buy all of the ingredients the day before and bake them that night so Thursday is easy-peasy.
37.  Wake up on the morning of the cookie swap with no ingredients or time to bake due to overwhelming work demands.
38.  Seriously, how long do I have before retirement?
39.  Attempt mental math again. This I can handle. Twenty-one years, minimum.
40.  F*ck.
41.  Husband gets home around 2:00 p.m. and notices I have done nothing for the cookie swap. He offers a pity run to the grocery store. I take him up on it, despite my type A tendencies.
42.  A texting marathon ensues to ensure he gets the right ingredients, decorating tools, and serving platters.
43.  Silently acknowledge the fact that he has way more patience than I do about this cookie swap.
44.  Wait until three-and-a-half hours before the party to start making the cookie batter. Nothing like a little cliffhanger on a Thursday. What’s the over/under on me getting it done?
45.  Decide to triple the recipe and dump all ingredients into my standing mixer, which cracks under pressure.
46.  Hand-mix three fussy batches of brown sugar oatmeal cookies. Bake and bake and bake. And decorate while ignoring my kids as much as possible. Mom of the year right here!
47.  Survey the kitchen. Flour is everywhere. Dishes are piled around the sink. I mean, it looks like Martha Stewart visited a frat house…or a crack house.
48.  Sprint upstairs to shower. Burn approximately 5 of the 500 calories I ingested making the cookies.
49.  Hightail it over to the party. I have no idea if there are 96 cookies or not. Apparently, I am incapable of counting and baking at the same time.
50.   Text my husband to reassure him I didn’t run away from home in haste. The kitchen is, indeed, that bad.
51.   Savor my three kid-free hours with friends. In certain circles, I am still known by my name, not just as “Alex’s mom.” It’s worth doing what it takes to find the time to toast to that!  

Happy Holidays!

Brown Sugar Oatmeal Cookies

1 cup Salted Butter, Softened
2 cups Packed Dark Brown Sugar
2 teaspoons Vanilla Extract
2 Eggs
1-1/2 cup All-purpose Flour
1 teaspoon Salt
1/2 teaspoon Baking Soda
3 cups Old Fashioned Oats

You can mix anything into this batter and it will work. Dried cranberries and white chocolate or chocolate chips work well. You can also place red and green M&Ms around the circumference of the cookie so it looks like a wreath, or simply dust with powdered sugar or drizzle with vanilla icing and sprinkles for a festive look. I enjoy them most as is!

In the bowl of an electric mixer (or using a hand mixer) beat together the butter and brown sugar until fluffy. Beat in vanilla. Add eggs, one at a time, scraping the bowl after each one. 

Mix together the flour, salt, and baking soda in a medium sized bowl. Add it into the creamed mixture in 2 to 3 batches, mixing it until just combined. Mix in the oats until just combined.

Use your preferred size cookie scoop (or a regular spoon) to drop portions of dough onto a lightly greased cookie sheet, spacing them a couple inches apart. Bake for 12-13 minutes or until dark and chewy. If you’d like a crispier cookie, just cook a bit longer.

Let them cool slight on the pan after removing from the oven, then transfer the cookies onto a plate for serving.

Thank you, Amy, for making me attend your beautiful holiday cookie swap without kids in tow! I needed that!