“She’s a Tough Cookie”

“Your coffee’s always better than mine.”

“That’s cuz you had someone else make it for you.  Here…  have a little more.”  She fills both mugs and reaches for the half and half.

“Thanks, Ann.  Look, she’s up on the roof.  Is she cleaning her chimney?”

“Yep.  This morning she was up there cleaning her gutters and trimming tree branches.”

“Why doesn’t she hire that stuff done?”

Ann stirs in the cream.  “She’s a tough cookie.  You know she’s divorced, right?  She’s on a pretty tight budget.”

“And doesn’t she homeschool those two kids, too?  Geez, I can’t even get my husband to clean out the garage.  She does more by noon than I do in a week.”

“Could you pass the butter?  Thanks.”  She spreads the butter all the way to the edges.  “I’ve chatted with her a couple times.  She’s used to doing it all.  She said that’s how it was when she was married.  She was always running from chore to chore, trying to please the husband, and never quite getting it right.”


“Do you ever see the ex over there?  He must come by to see his kids.”  Tara reaches for the banana bread and cuts another thin slice, handing it to Ann.



“You know, I hardly ever see his car there.  She told me once that they have kind of an open-ended parenting schedule.  She said her ex drew up the parenting plan, and her attorney encouraged her to agree to it.  Something about the plan not having any teeth.  Nothing to enforce.”

“Doesn’t she want the break that she’d get by having her kids visit their dad?  She can’t keep doing everything.”

“This banana bread is the best, Tara.”  Ann reaches for the pot of coffee.  “She once told me that her kids do better if they don’t see their dad.  Between you and me, she told me he’s a narcissist.  One of those folks where everything is all about them.  You know what I mean?  Anyway, she told me that he just doesn’t know how to connect with his own kids, so visits are particularly hard on them.  She’d rather have the kids 100 percent of the time.  It’s better than having them come home hurt, bruised and picked on.”


“Hm…  I’ve heard of that narcissism stuff.  I thought it was about movie stars and athletes.  You know – Tom Cruise and Tiger Woods.  That doesn’t apply to normal people, does it?”

“Well, if you ask her, narcissism runs rampant in our culture.  She says that typically, if you end up marrying a narcissist, it’s because one of your parents was probably narcissistic.  It’s a wicked cycle.”

“I gotta cut back on the butter.  Tomorrow.  Anyway, so… was she always this tough?”

“It’s funny you ask.  I went out to get the paper this morning, just as she was coming down the ladder.  I asked her if everything was okay.  She said, ‘Yeah, I just wanted to get the gutters and chimney cleaned before the weather changes.’  I told her I’d noticed what a tough cookie she is – cleaning gutters and chimney, taking care of the yard, homeschooling her kids.  She laughed and said, ‘The worst job is going down into the spidery crawl space to change the furnace filter.  I hate that job, but I refuse to ask Will to do it.’  I told her that she had to be one of the toughest women I know.  She said, ‘Heck, Ann, crawling through spiders to change a furnace filter doesn’t make me a tough cookie; living with a narcissist for 14 years made me really tough.'”


“Tara, you make the best banana bread.”

“You’re just saying that because someone else made it for you.”




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  1. We get too used to doing everything on our own, don’t we? Part of me prefers it that way…not depending on another person…and part of me wishes I could.

    Coffee does taste better when someone else makes it for me, but I like my banana bread the best. :)

  2. Z,

    One day I’d like to know what it’s like to be half of a partnership. It might be nice to share the load. In the meantime, this independence suits me. I sleep well at night.

    Walnuts or no walnuts?

  3. Walnuts for me, none for them, so both! Always the pleaser…

  4. Hi Jesse,

    I remember the togetherness my parents had, which was completely lacking in my marriage. I became very self -sufficient out of necessity. It does make me very grateful for help when it is offered.

    You are a tough cookie and an inspiration to me!!

    Take time to spoil yourself in the crisp fall weather.

  5. Z,

    A pleaser and a wonderful mom.

  6. Lynn,

    I’m spoiling myself with a new kitchen – well, sort of. New upper shelves instead of cabinets. Yeah. That’s a treat for me. Perhaps I should get out more?

    Nah. Feathering my nest makes me happy.

    I love when you chime in.

  7. Jesse,

    I think sprucing up your living and schooling space is a wonderful way to pamper yourself. Do what makes you happy and sleep well at night.

    Re: banana bread; walnuts (warmed with butter) for me and chocolate chips for my kids. : )

    I love to chime in, and thanks for the freedom and space to do so! I love learning from you and others who comment here.
    Blessings to all . . .

  8. Lynn,

    Yes to real butter!

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