Burnt Toast

Alternate Titles:

1.  When your priorities are all effed up.
2. Pondering ways to move the earth’s orbit so days are 31 hours each.
3. I have a blog??!?!?!?!?!!11111!?!?

Years ago Mr. Flinger and I found a book called “Burnt Toast” while dragging our new 3 month old daughter around Powells in Portland. Forgetting that it was written by a pretty famous actress who probably never struggled with baby weight five, no six, years after her first child was born or had to wander the bookstores at 10PM because HEY WHY NOT WE ARE ALL AWAKE, the book made an impression on us both.  Having only read the excerpt of the book from the flap, we still talk about how easy it is to give your priorities to things other than what you find important: your family, your health, maybe, I dunno, breathing deeply every so often. The book’s premise is that while you are giving the best parts of the loaf to everyone else, you’re taking the burnt toast for yourself.

Throughout the years we find ourselves saying, “I’m not going to be all burnt toast about this.”  About a week ago we decided to spontaneously give our family three entire days together. We’ve been working insane hours, never seeing each other, hardly ever in the same house more than 2 hours aside from sleeping time. The children see us both, but never together. The four of us spending time together is as mystical as Santa or that damn Tooth Fairy that always forgets to put money under the pillow. Three entire days to be a family, while ridiculously short, is more than we’ve experienced in months.

And so we went to Wenatchee. Why? Well, why not?


I joked with friends that we could pick Disney Land or Great Wolf Lodge but my children are just as happy going to a HOTEL! with A POOL!

It’s the simple things, really: A pool, a park, the sun, flying kites,  bubbles, snow, and more junk food than you are ever allowed to eat at home.

By the end of the trip the children were exhausted and happy playing small games with stuffed animals in the back seat. We all had a small glow from the sun and hours of swimming. For all intensive purposes, we were, what’s the word? Happy.

How fleeting that feeling is in the wake of deadlines and taxes and bills and commitments.

There are a million blogs, a few dozen more posts, and thousands of books about the topic “Balance.” How do you achieve a career that gives your family the resources it needs while maintaining a close relationship with each other? How do you prevent placing all your energy in work when your children are begging for just an hour to play trains?

I don’t know and I’m not even going to pretend to.

The thing I do know is that a few days, a small card slipped in a school lunch, an hour at a preschool tea, provides the children with the confidence that we are here. We work,  we have a strong work ethic, but we still love them even more than the biggest tree (as my daughter always declares). We love them bigger than the sun, higher than the Sponge Bob kite can fly, taller than the entire universe. In the end it’s about being ok with feeling like a failure at work some days knowing the face that lights up the brightest when you walk in to school will be the one that matters most.


Posted: 3/4/2011