Thursday, March 10, 2011

Cooking with kids: A lesson in letting go

natural born griller (kid chef)

Motherhood couldn't be more humbling. I can't even begin to list the gazillion things I swore I would never do as I parent, that I now find myself doing just to get a moment's peace (can you say Spongebob?). See, I thought I would be an amazing Mom. Silly me, I thought it would be easy, that I would be a natural. I was a good babysitter - didn't that mean I would be a knockout of a mama?

And then the babies arrived- two of them, both boys, about two years apart. And I realized they were sent to me to test every ounce of my patience and magnify all my little quirks and idiosyncrasies... oh, and to fill my heart with love and my life with joy, too!

One of the things I always dreamed of doing with my children was cooking with them. I was going to be one of those moms who cooks with her kids and gets them to fall in love with brussel sprouts and shrimp because we spend all this magical time in the kitchen together, wearing aprons, giggling, and bonding.

And then I tried cooking with a 3 year old. Not so fun. Germy hands in the batter, flour licked off the counter, and many a sneeze and cough thrown in as well. It bugged me for many reasons. I don't like mess, and I like being in control. Cooking with my kids was like the mirror being held up in front of my face. I couldn't help but look: it was glaringly obvious that cooking with kids was so hard for me because I didn't really have control.

Fast forward two years later and my youngest is five. Motherhood has gotten the best of me and I have slowly let go of that vice grip on control. And now the fun has begun. In the hours we have between when his preschool lets out and big brother gets off the school bus, the little guy and I bake treats and often work on that night's dinner. Apple bread, kale salad, and even braised lamb are among the dishes we've worked on together. He has his plastic knife, his own way of stirring, and both boys have now conquered cracking eggs (to be honest: it was hard to turn the control over on that one). We take turns pouring and sifting, and while they still insist on licking flour off the counter top (they think it is sugar), it doesn't quite bother me as much any more.

A few weeks back I overheard one of them say to my own mother, "I really love cooking with my mom." That just might be one of my proudest moments yet on this roller-coaster ride we call motherhood.

1 comment:

Sarah Bockel Smith said...

I loved this post! Made me a little teary at the end.