A year ago, I flipped through the lovely cookbook, Kitchen Revelry: A Year of Festive Menus, by the actress Ali Larter and ran across a beautiful image of an Earth Mother’s Brunch. Hide rugs thrown picnic style, women with flowing locks and cool jewelry languidly enjoying a spring afternoon. The setting and wardrobe painted a scene way cooler than my mom life at the time. Stirring mac and cheese, I imagined my best friends and I Photoshopped into it.
I knew I would do my version someday, but with three kids and a debilitating streak of perfectionism that keeps me from hosting things more often that I’d like, it took me about a year to actually get around to it. One year and one text invite later, five of my dearest friends showed up one day before Earth Day to do the live action version of Earth Mamas Brunch.
I had planned my own version of outdoor Earth Mother coolness. Garden greens on platters, quiche and bruschettas, babbling pool fountain, earthy tunes, delicious food and coffee to wake up to. I had a clear cookbook vision in my mind of what it was supposed to look like.
At 3am the night before, I wake up soaked. Not a hot flash, but a hot mess. My five-year-old son has crawled in bed and peed on me. I strip him, strip me, throw my sheets in the washer and sleep on the couch until 6am.
At 6am, a piercing beep begins. Drowsy and couch-headed, I sleepwalk toward the sound. My stove flashes wildly, and after some Babette Villa repair attempts, I realize my Thermador control panel is deep-fried from a storm power surge. Hosting brunch in two hours and no stove. Perfect.
I turn to start a pot of coffee–my fancy coffee pot with built-in grinder I got sold on two months ago. It spews grounds at me and leaves a tar mess in my inspirational quote mug. Is this one of those “the glass is half full” moments? Glass half full my ass. Where is the mug with a big middle finger on it when you need it?
I go to start the pool fountain to cue the babbling brook. No response. The calm, still water mocks my efforts to control my environment. My Sonos Playlist of Girl Power tunes for the party? Connection error. The power of girls is suddenly replaced by the power of silence.
My three kids have achievement-testing week and cannot be tardy. Today, of course, is the morning my daughter decides she is a caterpillar. Meaning she will not emerge from her blanket cocoon. Even with a crow bar. My begging and pleading fall on deaf ears. My little butterfly seems to take satisfaction with my misery.
At this point I laugh. I LOL in fact. I reign in the urge to curse my existence and check Google to see if Mars is in retrograde. Instead, I laugh at my own asinine pursuit of black and white Ali Larter photographic perfection.
And then I do something completely uncharacteristic of the old me. The “me” my three younger sisters call “Miss Perfect.” I kill her. I kill my inner Miss Perfect.
I pick up my phone and I call for help. Well, actually I text for help. I text my three best friends, my soon to be guests and ask them to pick up a quiche please, and anything else they can muster.
I call my friend next door and ask her if she can help me throw together some veggie platters and squeeze some oranges for mimosas, because when shit blows up in your face squeezing things and then adding wine just seem like a great idea.
I laugh because I get it Universe. I get that I am missing the whole point of the experience I want to create if I strive for fake perfection rather than real connection. I get that I am named Maria Carter and not Ali Larter. This Mexican girl that can make smokin’ enchiladas but not much else is the girl they’ve just driven 1.5 hours to hang out with.
I let go of what it is all supposed to look like, and embrace what I want to feel like: not stressed, happy, and sharing my day with great friends – that’s it.
My friends arrive like three hot wise women at the manger bearing gifts of food and games and wine. We exchange hugs, the kind you really, really mean and the kind you really, really need on mornings like these. Earthy, real, unscripted brunch ensues with real tears and real laughter and one fabulous recipe for pea and pecorino crostini pulled off. And in the end, it couldn’t have been more perfect.