(This appeared on Huffington Post on 2/14/14.)
As much as I would love to tell you that I’m the kind of working mother who has her act together, it’s simply not the case. I’m the mom who keeps a razor in her car because inevitably, I’ll be driving to a meeting and realize I have one hairy knee, because I don’t even have my act together enough to have a matching set of hairy knees. When a school party sign-up list goes up and all of the other parents work hours cutting fresh fruit into the shape of the school mascot, I sign up to bring napkins. That way, if I forget the napkins (and believe me, I will), the kids won’t starve, and they can just wipe their messy little hands on their clean little pants.
It’s not that I haven’t tried to be the kind of mom who has her act together. When my now 18-year-old stepdaughter was in elementary school, I stepped up to be the Girl Scout Cookie Mom. Looking back, I’m pretty convinced that one of the other moms drugged me and got me to say yes, while all of the other moms laughed wickedly behind my back. After all, I was a fairly new stepparent. That alone automatically made me feel like a second class citizen, and at that point in my life, I didn’t know The Secret to Being a Cookie Mom.
Now that I know the secret, I’m going to share it with you. Considering being a Cookie Mom? Grab a box of Do-Si-Dos and a glass of milk and sit down for a little lesson.
If you’ve been a Cookie Mom before, I will enjoy having a glass of wine with you in God’s special spa retreat in heaven, because we deserve it. If you haven’t been a Cookie Mom, let’s start with the job description:
Wanted: Cheerful, naive sucker. Must pass a background check that rivals the FBI and CIA combined. Requirements include attending training sessions with instructors who wear Christmas sweaters in June and being willing to gain 10 pounds during Cookie Sale. Candidates must own a minivan and be proud of it. Should delight in outdated, inefficient business practices. Must have space in your home to house a minimum of 1,500 cases of cookies. Should own a dolly, a strong husband, or both. The ideal candidate will possess the physical and emotional strength to fight off their strong husband with a stick when he cracks open cases labeled for other kids and eats Thin Mints while laughing manically.
The candidate will graciously manage mothers who appear organized, but inevitably show up two hours late to pick up cookies at the same time you’ve stripped down to your bra and panties in the hopes of diving into a hot bath. Scheduling consideration during the Cookie Sale: Be prepared to call in sick to work at least once to cry uncontrollably while counting piles of loose change.
I’m probably breaking some kind of Girl Scout code by revealing the truth, so to balance things out, here’s a site devoted to helping new Cookie Moms get ready for the task. My favorite part: “Are you a new cookie mom? First, I want to tell you, don’t panic!”
I’m telling you, the loose change alone should make you panic. I had so much money to handle I felt like Al Pacino in Scarface, minus the gritty, gangster glamour. While Pacino sat at a table with stacks of cash, I was slumped in an overstuffed Pottery Barn chair buried in nickels, dimes and quarters, shoving cookies down my gullet, scribbling illegible notes on post-its, trying to learn Accounting 101 while warding off an extended visit to our local mental health facility. But damn, I was a good stepmother! The other mothers were SO impressed by my Girl Scout spirit!
Don’t get me wrong; I completely appreciate what the Girl Scouts do for our impressionable young girls. Both of my daughters had a blast doing it, and the mothers who volunteered to take on the meetings are getting extra complimentary spa treatments at God’s spa retreat in heaven. The Girl Scouts teach sisterhood, female empowerment, and basic finance. During the cookie sale, girls learn about customer service (a lost art), door to door sales (that’s a little scary), and how to handle rejection. Good lessons, all.
This weekend when you stroll past a cookie booth, please buy some cookies. Who cares if they’re loaded with calories and ridiculously overpriced? You’ll help a local troop keep a fraction of the profits, make a kid smile, but most of all, you’ll make that Cookie Mom feel worthwhile. And if you’re really feeling charitable, write a check for the exact amount, please. The Cookie Mom will thank you.