The Wrong Kind of Dough

The Wrong Kind of DoughFor the past few years, I’ve been tutoring as one of my side hustles. It can be quite lucrative. It can be very fulfilling. It can also be a colossal pain in the patootie.

Whenever I think I’ve tightened all the loopholes in terms of cancellations and payments and covered all my bases in terms of materials and additional assignments, something unexpected comes up. This past week, I was planning on attending my regular tutoring session before dashing off to make cookie dough with my family. Midway through my morning, the parent of my student emailed me saying that his daughter had to meet with a teacher after school and couldn’t make the session. He closed the email by typing, “Reschedule. K, thx.” I was livid.

Not only is this family incredibly gifted and talented when it comes to making excuses for their cancellations, but this was finals week — a season renowned for last-minute cramming and extra tutorials. I had turned down other clients who asked for this spot in order to honor my standing commitment to this flaky family. I quickly churned out a nasty-gram, and then I clicked “save as draft.” I emailed my mom a recap of my woes, fully expecting her to be just as annoyed and aggravated as I was. She’s my mom. Back me up, right?

Wrong. I clicked open her replied and my stomach sank. Two sentences. Two lousy sentences. I had penned a veritable diatribe. Where was the sympathy? Where was the support? There was nary an exclamation point to be found in her response. Instead, she simply typed, “This season is about cookie dough, not green dough. More time with us.”

After first I thought, well, she just doesn’t get it. This is my side hustle. This is about paying off my mortgage early. This is about financial independence within the next decade.

Soon after, an overwhelming sadness settled in. For nearly three decades, I looked forward to holiday baking with my family all year. The tradition started way back when with my grandma and me. Then, my mom joined in one year. Pretty soon, we invited my cousin and her two daughters. When my grandma passed away right before Christmas two years ago, we still got together and baked in her memory. Love and saturated fat – the two constants in my family. And this year, I had become so focused on an extra forty dollars that I couldn’t see the gift I had been given: an extra hour of time with my family doing what I love.

This post isn’t to say that I’ll stop pursuing my side hustle or that I’ve decided not to reach for financial independence. Money matters. But some things matter even more.

So Tell Me…Have you had any Scrooge moments this year? Care to share any gems your parents have dropped on you?

The Wrong Kind of Dough

9 thoughts on “The Wrong Kind of Dough

  1. I’m glad your mom reminded you that slowing down a little at the holidays is no bad thing. Time marches on, and sometimes you can’t go back. I try to remember that whenever Little Bit wants to play while I’m working.

  2. While I definitely agree with your Mom (same thing that mine would have said), for your regular clients have you considered contracts that say you have X unexcused absences and all others need 72, 96 hours notification? My personal trainer at the gym (before I was frugal) gave me one miss for my 20 sessions and 48 hours notice to reschedule. While I didn’t love it, I thought it was fair.

    1. I do – but this family finds work-arounds. And it is hard when a teacher needs to see a student after school. I understand that I’m the easier person to reschedule. The teacher isn’t going to come back to work later in the evening. So I try to balance being really strict (and respecting my own time!) with being reasonable enough to keep clients. Your trainer had a great plan!

  3. Ah, sheesh! I would have been pretty furious, too. It’s the ‘disrespect’ of your time & efforts with so many last minute changes that would be pretty frustrating. But after the cool off, there always seems to be a silver lining which your mom did highlight with spending more time with them. 🙂 Investing in relationships & the people you value are really themes I would like to continue focusing on first.

  4. This seems like a moment when it’s appropriate to hold multiple feelings at once. I think you’re still allowed to be angry at the flaky family for disrespecting your time, but how wonderful that the whole thing helped you find perspective to appreciate the more important “dough.” Also, as we’ve learned, we don’t get to FI by focusing on the nickles and dimes — you have to focus on the big picture. And losing one session won’t make or break your goals. Hope you guys have wonderful holidays!

  5. I think that your mom is right — but so are you. You need to drop that client, I think. Or simply warn him that the cancellations mean you turn down other clients. So either there will be a cancellation fee, or he can find another tutor for his kid. Either way, you can focus on more reliable clients.

    But your mom is also right. I miss Christmas baking with my mom. I’ve tried it on my own a couple of times. Never goes quite right, though I eat the results anyway. But part of the fun is cussing out the cookie press with her. Doing it on my own just isn’t the same.

  6. Your client was disrespectful. I’d have been annoyed too. Leave it to mom, though, to put things in perspective. You’re lucky to have her and to create moments together that will become wonderful memories. The only time I remember baking with my mom, we made some cookies with M&Ms, from a recipe I think was on the Morton salt label. To say she was not creative in the kitchen is an understatement (but I do miss her pot roast).

  7. How frustrating. I would have reacted the same way. People not following through with something they say they will is one of my biggest pet peeves. I’m glad you had something nice to look forward to like baking afterwards though! That’s better than not having anything more to do than sit and stew 😉

    I’m sure I had several Scrooge moments. It’s easy to lose perspective in the hustle and bustle of the holidays. Luckily (for me anyway) I can’t remember any of them! Hope you had a lovely Christmas and have a Happy New Year!

  8. Argh! It’s so frustrating to have a proper rant and not have the audience share your enthusiasm 🙂
    Your mom had good advice, and though it lacked empathy that wouldn’t have hurt anything and would have made you feel better, she sounds like a great person to have in your corner. She’ll always tell it like it is, even when others won’t.

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