The fudge that broke the camel’s back

The fudge that broke the camel’s back


We can wax as lyrical as we please about taking down the pressure, lowering self-expectation and saying no when we should, because well… that’s seriously good advice.

But every now and then, a series of seemingly innocuous, unrelated events conspire to turn those sage words and astute wisdom against us.

So, begins the story of the fudge that broke the camel’s back. It’s a simple tale of a schoolyard sweet that reduced a pretty pragmatic woman to a heaving huddle of tears.

Problem 1 – Life is a game of pick-up sticks

Like many women I know or at least associate with, my house and organisational ability tends to hang by the tiniest of threads.

With three kids in tow, we lurch from one day to the next, cramming in homework, ricocheting to activities and losing a whole host of school socks along the way.

Not so much a well-oiled machine as a miracle that unfolds despite us, this system seemingly works well. Everyone’s happy, everyone’s fed, everyone’s polite (in public, and that’s what counts).

It’s random, it keeps us on our toes and it’s generally a joyous thing to watch.

There have been attempts to insert order into this chaos, but that order doesn’t come naturally. The best of intentions includes a weekly schedule which now adheres mockingly to our fridge beneath a wealth of party invites with long overdue RSVPs.

That’s OK, that’s how we roll and put it this way, when we had children, we had three under age four, so “planning” might not be our thing.

Problem 2 – High expectations, a lack of execution

When the annual school fete came around recently, I was all aboard for the activities involved. I willingly accepted baking boxes, dutifully noted rosters and set about organising a stall.

“I’ve got this,” screamed my ego, as I eyeballed the astounding recipes other mums were diligently denoted as baking.

“Of course, I’ll help,” said the inner people-pleaser as I proudly put my name forward for fudge.

And back to point one – life is a game of pick-up sticks…

A day has but so many hours and turns out one can keep only so many balls in the air. More importantly, if you’re going to cook at a boiling point of 116 degrees Celsius, a recall of schoolgirl chemistry is a definite plus.

Fudge my friends, is no mean feat. It’s planned, it’s timed and it’s precise. One wrong move and nothing, I mean, nothing, sets as it should.

Instead you have a sweet ensemble of ooze. Tasty, but not pretty, and not suited to public consumption. Well, that’s my fudge.

With just hours until my intended “fete” accompli, a realisation of abject failure stripped away all resilience, buffeted any bravery and reduced me to frustrated tears.

I was literally crying over spilt milk, blubbing over burnt cream and sniffling with general remorse that I should have paid more attention in chemistry.

But of course, that’s not the reason for the tears at all.

The reality is I was weeping over a far more bitter pill. In my carefully constructed world of pick-up sticks, turns out it takes just a few degrees to illustrate I may have no idea what the “fudge” I’m doing at all.


Cassandra Charlesworth is a features writer with 20 years’ journalism experience. She loves a good old-fashioned story and getting to the heart of a great yarn. She’s also a mum to three children who have encouraged her to hone some secret skills. Nimbly navigating Lego pieces left on her loungeroom floor and creating stylish Barbie attire from all manner of household objects are just a couple of credentials she’s recently added to her resume.

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