I think we all know by now that reading this blog will in no way help with your meal planning, with creating memorable birthday parties, or with your gardening (unless quesadillas, streamers and pizza, and dried flowers stuck in a vase are your cup-of-tea). It's more than a full-time job for me, just keeping the clothes washed, my kids (kind of) clean and in one piece, and our schedule from collapsing in on itself. Yes, it's usually past 5:00 pm when I begin to rack my brain for ideas on what to serve my family for dinner (sigh). Today, though, I found myself surprisingly unoccupied for a few moments while Priss and Ben were at school, Elijah was working independently on an assignment and Mary was entertaining herself in the living room. I knew that if I sat down with a book, or tried working on the computer, the calmness and quiet would immediately be shattered - no I had to stay in the kitchen, out of sight. On an impulse, I reached for my stained, red-and-white checked Betty Crocker cook book and leafed through the pages haphazardly until reaching the cookie section. I didn't have chocolate chips (darn it!), or walnuts or cocoa powder or lemon zest, but wait... I did have flour, and butter, and sugar, and oatmeal! No more than 20 minutes later, I was sticking a baking sheet full of teaspoon-sized dough mounds into our oven.
I am embarrassed to admit how giddy my kids became when the smell of warmth and spicy sweetness wafted all heavenly-like through the house. "Are you making...cookies?" asked Elijah. Then, what do you know, I became an instant hero by confirming it was true, and that, no, they were not for a neighbor, or for daddy's work, or for church. The homemade treats (plain old humble oatmeal cookies) were just for us.
When Priscilla got home, I fixed her a plate of those cookies and sliced apples. I poured her some milk. I sat across from her with my coffee while she worked on her homework.
It felt really, really good.
I can easily get hung-up on all I can't be or do for my loved ones. But then again, if I'm diligent about looking for them, there are also plenty of affirming and precious reminders, like today,in the crumb dotted smiles of my kids, of how little it actually takes to make a normal afternoon seem special. I don't have to be Martha Stewart-ish to be a great, caring, loving and devoted mother. Deliberate eye contact, plenty of affection, and impromptu offerings of my time, cover a multitude of crafting/cooking deficiencies.
So I might not have it in me to make a paper mache anything or sew doll dresses, but I can certainly laugh at a knock-knock joke and be appropriately enthusiastic when Benjamin announces triumphantly that he, "For sure did not get a time-out in his kindergarten class this time."
They're only young once, for goodness sake! I'd best enjoy them more (and fret less) while I still can.