I lost it

There’s simply no sweet way to sugar coat my behavior a few nights ago. I take my life into my hands every night I tuck my girls in. Maybe my drama is in overdrive, but have you ever stepped on a tiny Lego? If so, then you understand the pain it induces when it burrows itself deeply between your big toe and whatever we call the one next to it.

Almost three years ago my life fell apart. I’ve been struggling to put it together, piece by piece, but the reality is it can never go back to what it was. There are so many hard things about accepting this truth, but one of the most difficult is being thrown into single motherhood. I know women who have gone through extraordinary feats to become mothers. Their need to have a child was something so deep, they couldn’t imagine life without one.

I was never one of those women. This is not to say that I do not love my daughters. On the contrary, I can’t imagine my life without them. The thing is I never set out to be a single mother. Fate made that decision for me, and I’ve pushed back against it so hard, that when the wall came crashing down, I didn’t like the person I met on the other side.

my girl

Something snapped in me the other night. As I entered the kids’ rooms for bedtime, and saw yet another mess covering every square inch of their floor (in their defense, it’s a small room; in my defense, it was a mess even when they had an enormous room), I lost it. Not immediately, though. For a brief moment, I began to slowly pick up little bits and pieces of toys, in an effort to clear a path into their room. And then, it happened.

I picked up one toy, and hurled it to the corner of the room. And that was the crack that burst the dam within myself. Next thing, I was furiously throwing toys over my shoulder, screaming that I was tired of it all. I was done with being the only parent. I was done pleading with them for help.

I was just done.

Then I heard water trickling, and realized I broke a snowglobe. Little flakes of “snow” covered the top of the bookcase, water flowed down the sides, shards of thin glass scattered everywhere.

It was the lowest of low parenting moments.

I woke the next morning with an emotional hangover. I have very few happy memories from my own childhood. Much of what I do recollect is my father in drunken rages. I hadn’t had so much as a glass of wine that night, but I was intoxicated by grief. I let it overtake me, and can only hope we will build enough good memories to bury the events of that night. When the kids woke up I apologized for my behavior. I was honest, and told them I never set out to do this job alone. I told them I imagined how disappointed their father was in my behavior, and that I will try harder to manage this journey without him.

I also told them I need their help doing it. I can’t walk this path alone, and frankly they are old enough to take responsibility for their stuff, at the very least. That morning, Isabella came into the kitchen, and asked if she could help do anything while I was preparing breakfast. I told her she could put some jam into little pots, and some butter on the board. She came back, and took down dishes to set the table.

Virginia, well as my friends who know her can attest, she’s a strong willed spirit. I coddled her a lot after Michael died. She was only three years old, and I felt like I had to hold onto her babyhood, preserve it, and shelter her somehow. Now, it is my job to undo what I helped created. It is my job to be patient, and wait through the tantrums. It is my job to be patient, and not return her screams with bellows.

I watched Eat, Love, Pray for the first time tonight. And while I didn’t really love the movie, one line stuck with me—

You want to get to the castle; you’ve  got to swim the moat.

I want to feel whole again, whatever that means. Time, and patience, are the keys that will lead me there.

homemade baguettes | In Jennie's Kitchen

French Bread Dough

makes four 16-inch loaves, six to eight batards, or four pizzas

Adapted from Peter Reinhart’s Artisan Breads Every Day

Music Pairing: Walking on Broken Glass by Annie Lenox

Some of you have followed along with my bread making endeavors on Instagram. The ingredients are from Reinhart’s book noted above, but I’ve adapted the technique. For starters, he calls for bread flour. I’m obsessed with Antimo Caputo “00” pizzeria flour, and that is what I use. He also notes to let the dough rise overnight. I say it needs to go even longer to develop that crisp crust, and more importantly, the air pockets that are a sign of truly great bread.

A few things I feel are non-negotiable to achieve the bread I made, and the kind of bread I set out to make in the first place are as such: you need a pizza peel, and baking stone, and you can’t skip adding a pan of water to the oven (see directions). And the real key—patience. The dough can’t be rushed. At first, it will seem impossible. Then you will fall into a groove, and enjoy the rewards as you portion your dough out in the morning to bake fresh bread. Patience is an ingredient that costs nothing, but is often in short supply.

That said, this doesn’t mean you can’t make excellent bread using just bread flour, or using a preheated baking pan. It just means that your bread won’t look like the one pictured, so please keep that in mind before leaving a comment saying so. Okay, I can sense I’m getting a little cranky from that last sentence. It’s likely because I should’ve gone to bed hours ago. I will let you be, and good luck with your breadmaking endeavors.

680 grams bread flour (I use “00” pizzeria flour), plus more for kneading

7 grams dry active yeast

14 grams sea salt

454 grams water

oil (grapeseed or olive oil), to grease the container

Add the flour, yeast, and salt to a deep bowl. Whisk to mix well. Pour in the water, and stir with a wooden spoon until it forms a scraggly-looking dough. Scrape the dough out onto a lightly floured surface. Knead until it forms a smooth, somewhat tacky but not sticky, dough.

Wipe a large plastic bucket lightly with oil. Place the dough inside the bucket, cover, and refrigerate for at least 36 hours, and up to 4 days.

When ready to use, cut off the amount of dough you need about two hours before baking (a little less for more dough, a little longer for a larger piece of dough). If making bread, shape into a baguette, and set on a floured board. Cover with a light towel, and let rise until doubled in volume (it will feel light and airy to the touch). If making pizza, place the dough in a lightly oiled bowl, and cover with plastic wrap.

For making bread, adjust one rack to the center position, and put a pizza stone on it. Adjust another rack to the lowest position, and place a deep, metal baking dish onto it (do not use glass!). Turn the oven to 550F to preheat 45 minutes before the dough is ready.

Meanwhile, bring a pot of water to a boil.

When ready to bake the bread, score the dough. Do this by using a very sharp paring knife to cut deep diagonal slices every couple inches across the loaf. The depth of the cut should be about 1/3 of the way through the loaf. Transfer the loaf to a floured peel (wooden board).

Carefully pour the boiled water into the pan on the rack under the pizza stone. Be careful! The water will immediately bubble and evaporate, so keep your face away from the pan. Reinhardt suggests putting a towel over the oven door glass to avoid it cracking, but mine got pretty singed in just the few seconds it was there. I don’t use the towel anymore, and just pour the water slowly, and carefully. With a quick flick of the wrist, slide the dough onto the stone, and close the door immediately. Turn the oven down to 450F.

Bake for 18 to 22 minutes. I like to bake my bread to a very deep brown color. Remove it from the oven (use the peel or tongs), and set it on a wire rack to cool for at least 20 minutes before eating.

TO MAKE PIZZA

Follow directions for preheating the oven, except skip adding the pan for water. Shape the dough into a circle. Place on a lightly floured peel. Add desired toppings, tomato sauce, cheese, sausages, vegetables. Slide onto the pizza stone. Bake until crust is golden, and cheese is bubbly, 7 to 9 minutes.

homemade pizza | www.injennieskitchen.com

Comments

  • Mardi (eat. live. travel. write.): Oh Jennie, this must have been a hard post to write but I am sure that writing this all down helps. As does time, and patience. And in the meantime, bread baking sounds like delicious therapy. Sending hugs to all three of you (and watch the Lego on the floor!). XO

  • Holly: I admire your honesty and it will mean so much to your children that you are honest with them about your emotions. To know your parent is human is a great thing. I often think of you, whenever I open your cook book (often) and send light and love your way. Eat, pray, love is a good film ( I love it because I love the book), the book though is absolute therapy, a must read. It has helped me.

  • Jen: Thank you, thank you for your honesty in sharing your moment of weakness and losing it. Those moments are what make us human and have absolutely happened to me with my son. Its so nice to not feel alone in those moments and the after moments when you wish you hadn’t lost it.

  • Mallory @forkvsspoon: You have such strength in being able to share these moments and while I am sure it helps you navigate through it all – it has to be so freaking hard! I always thought that bread baking was very cathartic and more of a therapy session than anything…perhaps the perfect recipe for the words written.
    And seriously, stepping on a darn Lego – wouldn’t wish it on an enemy! Hope you have a great weekend.

  • Elizabeth: i just want to hug you now. What a brave woman you are, not only to continue on your path alone, but to share this with us. Every parent has gone through something similar, or if they haven’t, their not human. The difference is that their partner is usually their to ease the anger. Your words to your kids were so wise and loving. I admire you Jennie. Your kids are so lucky to have you as their mom.

  • Maria: Jennie, thank you for the openness and rawness of your post. I don’t have children of my own, but as a teacher (I’ve taught elementary, middle school, and high school), I have my moments of losing it. Thankfully, I have found the grace to apologize afterward, showing my students I am human and teaching them that a person can make amends. We are models in all situations, and life is far from perfect. Ultimately, how we handle it matters. You handled your “losing it” with grace afterward.

  • Lori: Jennie, This is an especially tough time with the calendar staring down “that date”. Take it easy on yourself. All parents feel this way at some point–single or not–and it will pass. Although the mess probably won’t. Why do kids have to act like kids :-)

  • Sharon: It must be terribly hard. But in moving you have turned a new chapter ..in every way will be good for you and the children. I lost my parents as a little girl, it is quite a burden to be good for your new caretaker.

  • Jenny @ The Peachy Pair: Reading this brought tears to my eyes. I am touched by your journey and your willingness to share these emotions with us, something most people wouldn’t dare do.

  • KimP: i have been reading your blog for quite some time now, but i felt the need to leave my first comment…i applaud your honesty with this post. maybe because my mothering has had it’s down moments lately, for different reasons, and to know that another mom out there is experiencing those as well, brings me a small bit of comfort in the humanness we share. thank you for the reminder that each morning brings us a new day, to plod through again, to make things better, and, to heal. keep swimming the moat ~ you are doing great.

  • Maryea {happy healthy mama}: Although I don’t know you, my heart aches for you. May God give you strength and courage to continue this journey and always forgive yourself.

  • Deborah: Jennie, I too lost my husband three years ago come August 21. I had no idea how the longing for them to be here can make each day hard. I mean, I knew, of course, life would change, I would always want him back, but I had no idea how deep and wide the longing for them to be here could be after almost three years. So no wonder you lost it, one can only handle the pressure just so long then things boil over. So I hope today you can think of all the good things you do for your family. How strong you have been. Embrace the small things, and ask for help when you need help. We all need a little help sometimes. We’ll make it, we are stronger now because we had to be.

  • Maria in NJ: let me first say, that you are very brave…in writing that post and being mommy and daddy to your girls. Don’t be so hard on yourself, at one time or another we as parents have lost it, its not pretty. YOU are doing the best that you can in a situation that only a few people can relate to. I hate to say this…the pain never goes away, it is always there, you just learn to live with it…I still cry every stnkin time he comes into my thoughts, and it has been over 35 years…I miss him more now, I realize how much I missed out on…

  • Debbi: In reading your post I feared you wanted to “end it all” when you said you ” lost it “. You are only human and it’s normal to feel overwhelmed. You will never be the same person as you were before. Now, you must make a new life. It is so hard and we never forget. Honesty is great with kids. They are hurting too.

    About the bread, have you ever tired an Emile Henry bread clouche? Or any dutch oven, to get thst briwn crust? I’m really scared of that water idea.

  • Lindsay: Thank you for your candor. You are so brave.

    Regarding the pizza, when you say it makes 4 pizzas, is that individual? How many people does each pizza serve? At what point could I freeze the dough?

  • Heather Kelly: I’ve been there. I am mother and father to my 3 children, 90% off the time. I get up with them in the middle of the night, I bathe them, dress them, take care of their personal needs, feed them, clean up after them, and hug them when they need/want one. My husband doesn’t get home most nights until 6pm or later. The kids go to bed, up the stairs, to read books at 6:30 to 7pm, depending on how they are acting. I do their laundry, cooking, and more! It’s never ending. On top of my blog, my MOPS group, the MOPS newsletter, which I just took on, and I help others by taking other people’s items and passing them to those in need.

    I am busy, but yet sometimes, I feel that I’m not busy enough. It’s like I enjoy living on the edge. But I do crack. And when I crack, my husband gets the brunt of it. He’s the one that I yell at, and I feel bad about it. But he’s not HERE. Even mentally these past 2 years, he is physically here, but mentally, for me, he hasn’t been. He doesn’t hear me when I need a break from our kids, from the house. There’s always a guilt trip that goes along with it from him. He makes me feel bad and guilty for wanting to leave the house and have some fun outside of the house without him or our children. We very rarely get a babysitter. So we don’t have date nights either.

    Wow, what a door you just opened!

  • Tracey A: Good Morning, Jennie!
    Well I haven’t gone away, still “follow” you in mind and spirit. Your words brought up my past demons too, just different from yours. I didn’t have children thrown into the mix. You are a GREAT MOM and were a great wife. Sending emotional peace and prayers and a HUG for good measure. Tracey A.

  • Peggy Gilbey McMackin: Powerful and moving and my heart goes out to you Jenny. I understand your feelings and its only human to have an outburst to clear the air every now and again so that one can move forward. I wish you the world of the best and may things emerge a bit easier for you in the future.

  • Jennifer Perillo: Hi Lindsay,

    The pizzas are about 16 inches round. I’ve been trying to foster healthy portion controls, and serve it with fresh fruit and salad, so one pizza is actually enough for one mama and two kids. Hope that helps.

    jennie

  • Jennifer Perillo: Kim,

    You said it perfectly—each morning brings us a new day to make things better. This is something I often tell my girls.

    jennie

  • Jennifer Perillo: Heather,

    I wish I had the words to help with the frustration you’re feeling. I do hope it gets better, and please know you cna always come here to talk through it.

    jennie

  • Jennifer Perillo: Hi Debbie,

    I have experimented with baking bread in a dutch oven. In fact, it’s how I made it all last summer, although I wasn’t doing the long fermentation as with this recipe. I prefer baguettes for every day, so the dutch oven isn’t an option for me, but you can totally give it a go. Just be sure to preheat the pot at least 45 minutes beforehand. And be careful putting in the dough. If you drop it in too hard, you’ll deflate the air from it, and lose those air pockets.

    jennie

  • Jennifer Perillo: Maria,

    That’s the thing. People say time makes it better, but really, it doesn’t. Every day that passes, every moment he misses, is one we’ve missed together. I find comfort knowing that he will always be in my heart and mind, but am beginning to think there may never be room for someone else. It’s a tall order to love me with all my emotions and faults, but to love someone else’s kids who are dealing with this same loss? Well, that seems an insurmountable ask.

    jennie

  • Jennifer Perillo: Deborah,

    It gets harder each year leading up to the date. I can’t bear to call it an anniversary; I don’t know why, or maybe just don’t know how to put words to my feelings. Thanks for reaching out, and leaving me a note here.

    jennie

  • IlinaP: My lovely Jennie, I have had many “Mommy Dearest” moments and I haven’t a thing to pin them on. I’ve just lost it. My boys can attest to the tantrums I have thrown. You pick up the pieces and carry on. It’s not like there’s a choice, right? I wish I were closer to you. I wish NC weren’t so effed up so you could have moved here to be my neighbor. And I’m sorry if my children had anything to do with bringing LEGO into your house. Ahem.

  • Jennifer Farley: I can never think of a proper comment to leave when I read your posts. Everything I type seems wrong and I end up deleting it. I just wanted to say that I really appreciate your recipes, your writing and your openness.

  • Barb: Hi Jennie, I appreciate your honesty and openness. My husband died last September. I have 2 boys. Thanks for sharing your struggles.

  • Kathy: Been there and done the same thing several years ago.

    Hurled a Playtex Bottle (empty) from across the room into “mini blinds” putting a nice dent in them – every time Iooked at the blinds, it reminded me of what I had done.

    Many years ago, blinds not replaced with shutters and most of the time since, I’ve kept myself “in check”.

    Venting and putting it in writing does help. You have much support in the “Been there done that too group”, – Carry on and do the best you can – you are not perfect – no one is. :)

  • Meghan: Jennie — This post resonated with me a lot. I’m 30, and about a year and a half ago I became the sole caretaker for my elderly grandmother, which is a role that I never imagined I would fill. Most recently I’ve been pushing back against it—the feeling of being trapped by the responsibility of having an elderly dependent at “my age,” particularly one with no savings to make providing for her needs easier.

    I like to say that it’s a learning experience for both of us. My closest friends tell me that what really matters isn’t whether or not I embrace the day-to-day tasks, but that they get done. Frustration i these cases is inevitable, I suppose, but we keep moving forward and we care for those we love.

    Thanks for your honesty, and for sharing that loving and providing for your family isn’t always easy. I hope that the kind words I’m reading here in these comments buoy you to keep moving forward, however imperfectly. Know that this post was helpful for me. -Meghan

  • Literal Quirk: You are one of my favorite humans- kneading away at life, creating wonderful things. My heart goes out to you and hopes that your soul feels a bit more mended with each shared moment. Xo

  • dervla: you can do it Jennie! Nothing else to say but, I’m always thinking about you.

  • Jennifer Perillo: Jennifer,

    Stopping in to share is never the “wrong thing”, so please never feel like it is again. I do understand that it’s hard to always know what to say.

    jennie

  • Carolyn: Like others, I really admire your honesty. My kid has caused (continues to cause) such feelings of rage and anger that I never thought could exist in me. Few will admit their moments of humanism. We had a sudden death in our family earlier this year, and your blog has helped me sort out and contextualize the grief of those closest to the loss. Thank you.

  • Liz: re the Dutch Oven method.

    I use a Lodge Cast Iron Dutch Oven – partly because my oven is not sealed well enough for the water/steam thing – at least I wasn’t getting the results I wanted that way and with the DO, I am.

    It is just me that I bake bread for so I make either small baguettes or boules. My DO is 9 inches diameter at the base.

    I’ve been making no knead/high moisture dough for a bit over 3 years, but discovered as you did, Jennie, that a longer rise yields a better crust and crumb. I typically leave the dough covered lightly on the counter for 3-4 hours, then refrigerate and after shaping a loaf let it rise for at least an hour. I put parchment in a foil bread pan that I bend to whatever shape I want and then use the parchment to lift and set in the DO.

    I bake at 500 and preheat oven and DO for 30 minutes after oven has come to 500 (i.e. put the DO in the oven, turn to 500 – when it at 500 I wait 30 minutes before adding bread to DO). I bake covered for 20 minutes, uncovered for another 14-16 minutes.

    I use a local Montana Wheat flour which is a hard red wheat so I up the water ratio.

    At any rate, I’m commenting because I think, even following things exactly…there are all sorts of variances in flours, humidity, ovens, etc. I’ve never had a “bad” loaf, but the more I learn, the happier I am with my own results.

    I also measure by weight – SO much easier, faster and more consistent results. SO worth getting a scale – I think I paid less than $20 for mine and I use it multiple times daily.

    I am going to order the “00” and try your exact recipe and technique – Thanks for sharing it!

  • Jennifer Perillo: Liz,

    Thanks so much for chiming in, and you’re absolutely right. There are so many variables, and since bread making is a science, the weather, ingredients, and mechanics of your individual oven play a big part.

    jennie

  • Sarah: Jennie,

    Thank you for the honesty you’ve shared through your blog. You lost your husband about 1.5 years after I lost mine, and coming here has been a comfort. You put into words things I cannot at times. We didn’t have children together, something I regret daily, and I can’t begin to imagine how much more difficult it all would be with children to care for. The fact that you’re still alive and caring for your girls is a testament to your strength and something to be applauded. I’ve had many moments of wishing it had been me instead of my husband, of missing him so deeply that I just can’t get myself up and moving. You don’t have that option when you’re mother. A fact you surely know all too well.

    The man I live with now has two young daughters and his first priority with them is to show them endless love and to be completely open and honest with them. Your behavior the morning after probably wasn’t easy, but I know from watching David and his girls that it is the perfect step towards fostering a wonderful relationship.

    It doesn’t get “easier” ever. It just becomes part of our life. Part of our new normal. Our husbands will forever live on in our memories and our hearts. David has captured my heart and has opened his own to love a grieving widow. He knows that he shares my heart with my late husband. It’s a strange thing to love two men so completely. Keep on cooking and writing and loving.

    I can’t wait to try this recipe.

  • Jennifer Perillo: Sarah,

    You give me hope. Truly. I do understand the oddness of loving two men at the same time. I opened my heart to the possibility of it, but unfortunately as much as the other person loved me, and my daughters, he ultimately said he couldn’t see his place in our family. He wanted his own family, not someone else’s. I was left very heart broken, and wonder if it’s worth the risk, and hurt again. It’s another type of loss to add to the load right now. I do hope as time goes on, the right person will come into my life, our life, and see that we still have so much to offer.

    Everyone is broken in one way or another; our cracks are just glaringly evident.

    jennie

  • amy: It is hard. I became single parent to my daughter nearly three years ago as well. I have a wonderful, strong girl. It is still hard. I feel like I had more strength last year and the year before that. I feel more fraught and at odds now but keep moving forward. Strength, peace and joy to you in your journey.

  • Selfish Mom: I can’t properly express how I feel about this post because I’ve been waiting for the baguette recipe (as my threatening Facebook comments might have suggested), but cried reading the post leading up to it. I’ve had so many of those moments and haven’t been through three-quarters of what you have. I don’t know what to say, except that Legos are the devil and your bread looks divine. Love you!

  • Lorette Lavine: Your post made me cry as well. Deep sadness and anger can make anyone especially a single mom lose it. It is part of being human. Sending you much love and a lot of hugs. Baguettes are beautiful!

  • Lorette Lavine: I am in love with the pizza picture. I want to eat the photo. Your food makes me want to jump into the instagram feed. xo

  • Cynthia A.: You are right! The pain of a stepped on lego is awful. Not as bad as childbirth or cutting your finger with a kitchen knife, but bad.

    Parenting is tough with two parents in the picture, so I can only imagine how that changes when the number becomes one. No kid is perfect nor are any parents (and the ones who say they are lie), but the important part is not to try and be perfect but to do exactly what you did. If you make a mistake you appologize and go on from there. Here’s to a better day tomorrow.

  • Katia: Jennie, as always, all of your posts are beautiful. Thank you for sharing them with us. xo

  • Nancy: Your honesty is brave. I raised my 3 children with their father and still had meltdowns and rage. Bless You!

  • Cindy: Hi Jennie,
    As parents, we all lose it from time to time. For awhile I was a single parent at one time in my life, because of a bad decision I made in my youth, so I can see how this could happen. Keep taking it one day at a time. I know it’s a struggle but in time the pain will lessen.

  • Radhika: I have a very involved loving husband who is a great father to our boys. And yet, there are days when I feel very overwhelmed and curse away. So you have nothing to feel bad about. And I am glad your girls are learning early on that they are part of a team. Teamwork will lead to a happy thriving family. I always tell my boys that they have to help us and be a part of the family team for all of us to be happy in it.

  • Shameem: I started following your bog just months before your husband died. The video you posted of him dancing with your daughter is forever etched in my memory and the thought of it makes my heart ache. I am not a single mother but have had similar parenting lows. I read a poem once that said (and this is the best I can remember it)

    I am your mother, true
    But in the end, simply a woman
    Doing her faltering best for a dear sweet friend

    What they will remember is that they were loved and that their mother, like everyone else, was human.

  • Leticia- Tech Savvy Mama: Oh Jennie! Your strength is amazing to me and I think at any given time, we’re all doing the best we can as parents. I send you lots of love!

  • Miranda: I am reading this on my phone in my bedroom and hear my new condo neighbor’s 1.5 year-old son on the other side of the wall, having a rough evening, poor guy, and his single mom comforting him on heir first night in their new home. The moment is a reminder of the pain and joy and everyday-ness and extraordinary-ness, the brokenness and the longing to be whole. These universal things we experience uniquely and often don’t know. Lately I have been letting the “voice reader” on an app read me psalm 23 each night and morning (British man’s voice, lovely). That’s just my path and I think in any tradition, a big part of the comfort and meaning is connection, whether it’s down through the ages or here in your online community. I hope this outlet remains nourishing for you as it is for us. If the day comes that it isn’t anymore, and I hope that’s a long way off, I know your next way of finding connection will emerge.

    And now he has quieted down. :)

  • Karin: Jennie,
    This post brought tears to my eyes as well. As I was reading it I was thinking about my own mom and how she had to raise 4 of us on her own. I remember those fits of rage that were surely caused by absolute frustration (and those damn little toys!), and because she didn’t choose it either when my father left her with 3 young kids and one unborn (me). You did just give me understanding into her view – thank you. I think I have been critical of her in the past not thinking about the level of stress she would have experienced. And thank you, for your honesty. I have the support of a husband and I still have moments like this one – especially when it concerns cleaning up the toys. Raising kids is stressful, and probably the reason why it takes 2 to make a baby ;) But, you are amazing and your girls will be so strong seeing you conquer every challenge you take on big and small. I think I am strong and I attribute it all to my single mother.
    I am totally looking forward to this bread recipe. I think I said it before, when we leave Belgium I don’t want to try to find a new bakery – I want to become my own! This will help :) Big hugs to you!

  • Margit Van Schaick: Jennie, you show courage in sharing this episode. My heart goes out to you. I only
    wish that this is the beginning of a turning point, one where you no longer carry totally alone the whole responsibility of creating a loving family life. Your daughters are, in fact, old enough to share in the work–starting with keeping their spaces orderly. I truly believe that there is no reason to have the kind of mess that triggered your despair. My middle daughter went to Montessori, and it was a revelation to me, the single mother of three. Maybe, learning that philosophy could help you the way it helped me, by expecting my girls to take care of their things, and by so doing, show respect for themselves and the family life you are living. It is central to their learning values and caring for themselves, and others. Your carrying the whole load just doesn’t do it. Years from now, you might look back at this moment as he “teaching” moment it was! I only hope that you do not go on as before, trying harder and harder to do it all.

  • Andrea: I so relate to this post… Opened my daughters’ bedroom door last night with a full basket of their folded laundry, saw the state they’d managed to reduce it to less than 24 hours after we’d cleaned it up, and tipped the whole thing in the middle of the floor on top of the scattered clothes, bits of Lego and accursed loom bands, while shouting that “I guess this is how they like to keep their belongings!” Not one of my prouder parenting moments…

  • Amanda – A Cookie Named Desire: As a fellow single mom, I can understand the emotions you have felt and are feeling now. I was a single mother from the start (my daughter’s father is alive, but in another country and has no contact with us). I loved kids, but never really wanted any when I became pregnant. Raising a child, especially a screaming newborn, was not for me, but I managed to get through it. Single-parenthood is hard. It will probably never get much easier. All we can do is breathe and take it day by day.

  • julia: i am blown away by your authenticity. i’ve been there too and i have not endured the same loss as you have…but, i’ve allowed myself to be intoxicated by strong emotions in the moment as well. however, i believe in being a flawed authentic model for my girls. you are giving your girls that gift along with being a mother who knows how to repair. you inspire me. thank you for talking about these difficult moments in such a real way – it helps me know that in my more difficult mothering moments, that i’m not alone.

  • Ellie: I have been reading your blog for years. I have not commented until today.

    You are amazing, inspiring and brave. The first two are naturally yours and the third is something I know you would never have ‘chosen’ to be. I am and continue to be so sorry for your loss.

  • Jennifer Perillo: Ellie,
    Thank you for the kind words, and “welcome”. Hope to hear from you in these pages again soon.
    Jennie

  • Jennifer Perillo: Julia,
    This was a hard post to write; to share a moment I was not proud happened. It does feel good to know that I’m not alone, too.
    Jennie

  • Jennifer Perillo: Andrea,
    I, too, can relate to that hurricane right after a cleaning!
    Jennie

  • Jennifer Perillo: Margit,
    I appreciate the advice. I never did clean up their stuff, but often feel like I’m always having to ask them to do it. I hope one day they feel inclined to do it on their own. I did reorganize their room this weekend, and changed the way some things were organized (easy-to-open bins under the bed, etc.). Hopefully if it’s easier for them to clean, then it won’t always be such an argument.
    Jennie

  • Robin @ Simply Southern Baking: Just seeing this today. Sending you a long-distance hug just because. :)

  • Nora Oldwin: Jennie, I read your writing a lot. I’ve written before and feel compelled to respond to your comments about parenting. I think it is great you “lost it” and that your daughters see that their mother isn’t “perfect” as if there were such a thing but I know that sticky syrup covers many American females struggling to figure out identity. I’m also a single parent because my husband, who is still living, is badly brain damaged after a cancerous tumor was discovered in his head. There are days I pick up soiled diapers (his, my kids are young adults) and want to throw them, too. Sometimes I do. Remember that saying: “I can’t go on; I’ll go on”. This is what we do. You are not alone; I so appreciate your willingness to bare your soul. You speak for so many of us out here.

  • Rachel Barbarotta: If I know one thing in this world, I know that Jennie Perillo is the kind of mom I can only dream of being to my own kids one day. I know that one thing for sure. Sending hugs to you today and every day.

  • nat: Jennie! I dont know where to begin to describe the how much your blog posts connect with us as readers and real people. I’m not sure if ur tired of people saying how you’re such a strong and resilient woman but make a tiny space for one more hats off to you phrase because you are an inspiration in everything you do and share with us. Each time I read a post from you it i am touched and inspired by how nakedly honest you are… reminding us that while working through pain or grief requires almost super human effort it is okay to break a lego now and then and feel human. Have a great day jennie.

  • Anna: I can only imagine how you felt the other night, but you have given a gift to all of us with your honesty….as a mom who lost a child and trying to figure out how to be a good parent in grief, you gave me the gift of just being human. I watched my Dad endure a lot of grief growing up, absolutely think it’s made me a lot more aware and compassionate as an adult, and while we hold high standards for ourselves we also know we break, too, and how to talk about it with our kids.

  • Vanessa MacArthur: I think you are on the right track expecting them to do their share around the house. My daughter-in-law has “meal helpers” since the children were very small. They are now 12 and 10. Each child, on alternate days, helps with table setting, clearing and meal preparation. They each get one-on-one time with a parent which they seem to enjoy. Expectations, age appropriate, are the key.

  • Sharon | Cheesy Pennies: Sometimes it feels like the Web is bursting with prideful moments. To find a post like this, with the raw reality of being honestly fed the hell up, is much, much appreciated. As are you by your girls. And your readers. Hang in there, and thank you.

  • Sara: Dear Jennie, I’ve been following you since the summer your husband died. Thank you for being so honest and sharing what is an experience to be perfectly expected this time of year. I don’t even know you, and I know you’re doing an amazing job. Keep that chin up.

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