From Chicken Soup for the Working Mom's Soul

Shortcuts and Illusions

The other day my daughter Cindy and I were having one of those blessed telephone conversations that helps us both span the too many miles between our family home in California and hers in Utah. She is a working mother of four children, ranging from ages nine to eighteen. And for anyone who juggles work, family, and home, or has done it, I needn’t say another word.

“How did you do it?” she asked, forgetting for the moment that I had had only two children—not for a moment to minimize the accomplishment of that. It took everything I had and simply renders me in awe of those who do work, rear several children, and take care of the household. “You used to make us homemade doughnuts for breakfast on the weekends. Oh, how we loved those doughnuts. We would roll ’em in cinnamon and sugar and we’d glaze some.” Her voice trailed off. “We were the envy of the neighborhood.”

The happiness of the memory was apparent. A flood of warmth rolled over and through me, and I was pretty sure she was experiencing the same thing. My tendency in those days had been to feel that there was never enough mama to go around and that surely I could be or should be doing a better job. But here was my daughter, now a remarkably accomplished working mother herself, remembering something lovely from her childhood.

“I have a confession to make,” I ventured with consternation. “I hadn’t a hint that you thought they were homemade. Those doughnuts weren’t made from scratch. That was a shortcut and an illusion.”

“They weren’t homemade?” Disbelief filled her voice.

“Actually, they were refrigerator biscuits that I cut the middle out so we could make doughnut holes.”

“The holes were the best part,” she said with a sudden smile in her voice that I couldn’t miss. Then her tone sobered again. “But I can’t believe they weren’t homemade, Mom. I could have sworn you made them from scratch.”

For a moment I saw her at age four, an adorable little pixie looking up at me with shining green eyes full of trust and love and delight and a sparkle all her own. “It’s true, honey. That was back in the day when everyone had her own deep fat fryer. Couldn’t get away with that now.”

Words eluded us both for a few moments. “We had a lot of fun on those mornings,” she said. “The kitchen smelled like a bakery. And the doughnuts were so warm and yummy. Making them always felt like the beginning of a special day.”

She paused, and I could almost see the pictures in her head and the unexpected gratitude I felt for shortcuts and illusions. Thanks, Spirit, I breathed in silence.

“You know another thing you did that I always liked? In fact, I still do it with our family just like we used to when I was little. Everyone thinks it’s a treat.”

“I can’t wait to hear.” I prompted, eager to learn.

“How on Sunday evenings we used to make popcorn and have sliced apples and watch television together. Now we do that when we watch a family video. Everybody loves those evenings.”

“It’s great knowing something so simple can become a tradition and bring so many feel-good memories with it. I’m glad you told me.” A feeling of immense blessing welled up in me again.

In both the memories that my daughter had shared with me, the ingredients couldn’t have been simpler. Thank heaven for love, for it transforms all things, even shortcuts and illusions.

Jane Elsdon

You are currently enjoying a preview of this book.

Sign up here to get a Chicken Soup for the Soul story emailed to you every day for free!

Please note: Our premium story access has been discontinued (see more info).

view counter

More stories from our partners