I follow a blog called The Red Dress Club, and every Tuesday they post a writing prompt for us to work on and post our piece on Friday. This week's writing prompt was to take something out of your pantry and write something using all the ingredients on the box. I was tempted to use my Starbucks coffee beans, but I figured that'd be cheating. Instead, I closed my eyes, reached in and grabbed a "Make Your Own Chocolate Kit." Here's what I came up with:
Which part of chocolate is supposed to give you a lift when you eat it? Is it the cocoa butter? The cocoa powder? Personally, I don't like chocolate, but my daughters think it's the best thing since Diego. So we bought the "Make Your Own Chocolate Kit" for them.
Maybe it's the cocoa liquor and the sugar. These two seem like friendly ingredients.
My husband and I found the kit in a store on Division in Wicker Park. We were visiting my hometown, Chicago, and my parents were babysitting while we enjoyed an afternoon downtown. First, we had a leisurely lunch at Milk and Honey. We sat outside while we ate, the weather just beginning to warm so that the sun made you feel like you were glowing. I was wearing a black dress I was giddy about. I loved the way I looked in it, and yet, I had this other voice, a voice that seemed to emerge after I became a mother, that whispered snidely, "What are you doing wearing something like that? You're a mom for Pete's sake. Why would you spend money on that when most of the time you're in a tshirt and jeans? You can't go to the park in THAT." I tried to ignore this voice and looked at the Chicago skyline - tall and beautiful in the distance.
How do you get milk fat into a box of dry ingredients? Seems kind of gross. What is milk fat, anyway?
We bought the kit and decided to save it for a Christmas present for the girls. It sat in the pantry through the summer, hidden behind a bag of brown rice. In the meantime, THE VOICE seemed to get louder and stronger. It'd come out not just when I ran my hands over my black dress as I decided what to wear in the morning, but also when I became interested in doing something for myself. "You can't do that. You're a mom now. You had your chance. You need to take care of the girls now."
I hated this voice. Partly because I couldn't tell whether or not it spoke the truth. So I started to dare myself to go against THE VOICE. It started with a writing class I wanted to take. THE VOICE had a huge issue with me taking this class because it was held on a Tuesday morning. "That's mom/child time. You take that class and you're gonna miss out on your daughters' lives. Why did you choose to stay at home if you're going to take a writing class? If you want to work, then go back to teaching. At least you'd be helping out the family financially. If you're gonna leave the girls with a babysitter, you may as well make money while you do it."
But I took the class anyway. We hired a babysitter, and that first day, I sat in class writing and writing. My hand throbbed from holding my pen. As I shared my writing, or talked about an idea in class, I felt someone else coming out. Someone who seemed to be asleep for a few years. Or perhap it was someone who thought she was of no use anymore. Kind of like Puff. But she crept back out and I was glad to see her.
The class ended and my husband suggested we keep the babysitter coming on Tuesdays so I could keep writing. "The class seemed to do you some good." he observed. Plus, we loved the babysitter. The girls screamed in glee when she came to the door and she seemed just as enthused to see them. She became part of our family - we text each other randomly throughout the week to talk about the girls or books we're reading - a lovely blessing to hiring someone to take care of your children.
I was thinking about THE VOICE the other day when my girls wanted to make chocolate using the chocolate kit we bought them. They brought up the idea a few minutes before the babysitter was coming over so I could write (she comes twice a week now). I set everything out and told the girls they could make the chocolate when the babysitter came over.
As I sat down to write, I got a text saying the making of the chocolate wasn't going so well. A glass bowl had broke with the dark chocolate and cocoa butter in it. I texted her back with an "Uh oh! Are they really upset?" She wrote, "No. Just wanted you to know about the glass bowl. I feel bad that it broke."
I laughed and then picked up my pen to write, but then realized that THE VOICE wasn't there to intervene. No, "You should go home." Or, "This wouldn't have happened if you were there to make the chocolate with them." I rolled my eyes at the ridiculousness of these statements, but also was aware that I had beaten THE VOICE up a little bit. Tolled her to shut up. Gave her a smack. I was proud of myself.
On my way home, I stopped by the grocery store and picked up a brownie mix to make with the girls in the afternoon. Not because THE VOICE told me to, but because I thought it would be fun.