Sarah knows the word “Dadgummit!” Catherine now knows the smell of burned food – three different kinds to be precise. She knows the smell of burnt candy, burnt toast and burnt toast with gruyere cheese blackened on top. This was our weekend.
I went to the grocery store excited to buy the ingredients to try a new butternut squash soup recipe, chicken piccata, and a candy recipe from O Magazine that was called Honeycomb. Doesn’t that sound wonderful? Brian typically makes every meal for us, and I wanted to give him a treat. Turns out the treat had to wait through several rounds of burn and several exclamations of “Dadgummit!” I knew it was ridiculous when I cut myself, screamed – again – and Brian just said, “I’m sorry” from the other room. He was trying really hard not to rush in and save the meal. I hate when he does that, and he knows it. As I was attempting to get it all together, I reflected on some comments I’d heard the day prior.
I had had the amazing opportunity to speak at the Themes in Neurorehabilitation: Cerebral Palsy Across the Lifespan conference on Friday at Kennedy Krieger Institute. I spoke to a room of about 100 attendees who gave me a standing ovation at the end. It was dramatic and surprising for me, frankly. The key message of my talk to doctors, therapists, social workers and parents was “Allow us to hope; help us prioritize.” People cried. They told me afterward that I had given them hope. A mom with a 15-year-old daughter told me she didn’t know why she came from North Carolina except that she needed a “shot in the arm.” She told me she’d realized my talk was the reason she came. That’s pretty cool when you hear that your life and your story affect people so profoundly. But those comments weren’t the ones that surprised me.
What surprised me was the number of people who wanted to know how I did it all. They wanted to know how I balance a life as CEO of an ad agency with being a mom to Catherine. Since my talk had nothing to do with this concept, it really did hit me from out of the blue.
I gave them my best answer at the time, but over the weekend, as I inserted the third batch of gruyere toast into the oven saying a small prayer that it wouldn’t burn again, I realized I have a different answer. The real answer is that I don’t. I don’t do it all well as evidenced by a batch of burned candy a batch of burned toast and a batch of burned toast with cheese. The fact that Sarah knows the word “Dadgummit!” is proof I don’t do it all well. I may be a successful executive. I may be a pretty OK mom. But I am a lousy cook. And that’s OK with me.