Sunday, July 21, 2013

A Brownie and a Book

I'm not a brownie person.

That's exactly what I told the waitress at the Nosh Kitchen Bar in Portland, Maine, when she suggested I try the Betty Ford Brownie. "It's just a brownie?" I said, thinking this was probably a mistake.  

"I'm not a brownie person either," she replied. "But I really like this dessert."  

So I tried it.  And she was right, it was a winner.  The Betty Ford Brownie seems less like a brownie and more like an exotic chocolate square.  You need a fork to eat it.  It comes served on a plate decorated with ribbons of chocolate sauce and a mound of whipped cream off to the side.  The brownie itself is composed of three layers.  The bottom layer is chocolate chip cookie, but the cookie is so soft and chewy it's more like really good chocolate chip cookie dough. The next layer is oreo cookie, and in this layer you get large pieces of oreos, molded into a square which is sitting on top of the chocolate chip cookie layer.  Finally, the top layer is a thick layer of chocolate fudge brownie, probably about a quarter of an inch thick, which pulls the whole dessert together.  The flavors worked really well together, and somehow, resulted in a dessert that was not too sweet but incredibly flavorful.  I highly recommend the Betty Ford Brownie, even if you are not a brownie person!

The question of whether or not you are a brownie person, and whether you can still enjoy a great brownie-like dessert even if you are not, reminds me of a major life decision I made approximately fifteen years ago.  

I had a two year old daughter at the time, and a baby on the way.  I was working full time, and had been for six years.  I enjoyed my work very much, and had pretty much built my identity around my work.  It was what I had wanted to do since high school, possibly since grade school, and I was doing it! And doing it well!  But my life was pulling in a different direction, and I was wrestling with the decision to become a stay at home mom.  

A stay at home mom? Me?  That's not what I had worked all those years for, and that's not why I went to college and grad school.  Quite possibly, had there been such a category, I would have been voted "person least likely to become a stay at home mom."  But still, something was telling me to make a change. 

It was a difficult decision. It was all I talked about and thought about for a solid three months. During this time, I found myself talking to a mom who attended the same gymnastics "Mom and Me" class that my daughter and I attended.  I'm not sure how the topic came up, and I don't even remember the mom's name. But I do remember, almost as if it were yesterday, when she suggested that I read a book called "Sequencing."  She said that it was about the fact that women can have it all, but maybe not all at the same time.  She offered to let me read her copy, and I said that sounded like a good idea.  The very next class she brought the book for me, and told me not to worry about returning it, that I should keep it. And I did.

The book really helped. And I did decide to stay at home with my children, which I count as the best decision I have ever made.  It would probably take a host of blog entries to fully cover the nuances of the decision to stay at home, and I know and fully respect that it is not the right choice for everyone.  I myself have explored many permutations of being a working mom in my almost eighteen years as a mom;  full time, half-time, part-time, very-part time, and, fifteen years ago, no work at all.  But what I want to celebrate today actually, is the book, and the mom who gave it to me.  She barely knew me.  I don't remember her name, and frankly, I'm not sure I even knew it back then. But she must have sensed in me, a fellow mom, a fellow human being, a great struggle.  And she went out of her way to help me in that struggle.

I still have the book.  It's a reminder of a decision that I made.  But it's also a reminder of what people can do for each other.  I don't think that mom ever found out what I actually decided.  I would love to tell her, but mostly, I would like to thank her.  

It's amazing what a small act of kindness can do.  That book helped to change the course of my life.

Are you a brownie person?  Even if you're not, I bet there's a great brownie out there for you too! Have a great week!   


  1. Loved the blog Antonia. Sometimes you have to challenge your old way of thinking to find something that works for you and is delicious too!!! I believe God puts people in our lives for a reason. That person was there for you at the right time to help you on the road to where you are now. I am glad you are happy with your choices-and that you had an open enough mind to explore the many different paths to take. As for me- I too had the same dilemma. I suppose many women do. I as well am glad that I had people along the way to talk to and an open enough mind to follow a route that I did not plan. Sure there were mistakes along the way and sometimes our paths have many twists and turns- but this is what real living is all about. Good for you my friend. I love your blogs. Keep writing them! Betsy

  2. Thank you for your insightful and kind comment. And thank you so much for reading!!

  3. Great comparison. I've found several brownies that have tastes that transcend what I expected, and several books that changed my life. Not too often the other way around though. Keep it up.

  4. Thanks for the thoughts Jeff! And thanks for reading!!