The Playroom: The buy

Author: Maraya Steadman '89, '90MBA

Maraya Steadman

I’m sitting in the church parking lot, in a car with the engine running, waiting for a drop. I’ve got 40 bucks clenched in my fist, nervous that I won’t have it ready once she gets here. I’m worried that she won’t show.

I could say I don’t know how it, how I, got to this point. But I do know. I’m a room mother, and I’m also in charge of birthday book club. I have begged, baked and bartered over 600 cupcakes in the past eight months and I’ve had it, so I’m buying cupcakes in the church parking lot.

I don’t have to bake them. I don’t have to send out emails with lots of exclamation points trolling for volunteers, “To bake for the school party next Tuesday!” All I have to do is pay some woman I found on the Internet, a local mom I’ve never met, and I get the cupcakes for the school party.

On some level I’m afraid I might be getting myself into something I won’t be able to handle. Will this be a one-time thing? Will I be able to stop at cupcakes for the school party? Or will I soon be meeting in church parking lots for banana bread and pumpkin muffins, too? It might just be too easy. Hide the 20s I take out of the grocery budgets, and I never have to bake for another church or school function again, ever.

I’m worried that she might not show. As I wait I start to worry that someone I know might see me sitting here, idling my engine in blatant disrespect for the parish no-idling policy, and when they come up to ask me to turn off my engine for the health and safety of our children, they might ask me what I’m doing.

Finally the woman shows. I hand her the money, she hands me the cupcakes. It takes less than15 seconds and she’s gone, a puff of exhaust from the biggest SUV I’ve ever seen, with tinted windows and a back full of baked goods.

I open the box to count, make sure I’ve got them all, and they are gorgeous. Nobody is ever going to believe I baked these cupcakes, so now I’ll have to make up some lies to cover up what I’m doing because none of the other stay-at-home mothers would ever buy cupcakes.

As I hand them out to the children at the school party, I don’t care about the lies, the parking lot or the grocery money.

I didn’t have to bake and I didn’t have to stay up too late to get it all done. I didn’t have to run out to the grocery store in the freezing rain after my husband got home from work to buy more of those paper things to line the pans. And I didn’t have to send out all those emails with the exclamation points!!!

This high was so worth it.

Maraya Steadman, who lives in a Chicago suburb, is a stay-at-home mother of three children. She can be reached at