Sunday, May 11, 2014

Why I was so excited to bake muffins with Diana

Mother's Day is bittersweet for me again this year. I absolutely love being a mom, even when it's really challenging, but I hate that my own mother isn't here to see her namesake becoming this spunky, fun little human.

On Friday afternoon, Diana's school had a Mother's Day party. We ate snacks together, and the kids presented us with these sweet little collages that they made. Instead of heading back into work after the party, I decided to spend the rest of the afternoon with my little one as my own Mother's Day gift to myself. 

We went for a walk, we colored in a couple of her favorite coloring books, we played tag, we ate pizza together, and then, we got to do this: 

My husband snapped this photo with his phone from the other room. That's Diana and me making muffins together. It was our first attempt at baking together, and my heart is still full because of it. 

It might seem like a little thing to most people - why get so excited about muffins?? But for me, it felt like I was carrying on a family tradition.

My mom was an incredible baker and cook. She was MacGuyver in the kitchen - she could whip up pretty much anything from nothing, and it was always really good. She loved the act of creating something that would bring people happiness and comfort, something that would sustain and nurture. We had a giant cookie jar in our kitchen, and it was always full with something yummy. When she died, many of the condolence cards mentioned her skills in the kitchen. 

I loved to be in the kitchen with my mom. Who doesn't love to watch a master artist apply their craft?

One of my favorite memories of my mom was from a random day after middle school, when I came banging through the front door before my brother and sister got home, and she was singing along to Lionel Richie on the radio and setting out all the ingredients for us to make her trademark chocolate chip cookies. When she saw me come in, she didn't stop singing, she just grinned and motioned for me to join her. (I still get choked up with I hear "You Are"....)

Over the past 14 years since she died, when I've struggled with missing her or needed to feel connected, I have often resorted to stepping into the kitchen, pulling on an apron, and getting my hands busy making something from her baking repertoire. 

On Friday, I was loving the time I got to spend with Diana, but found myself thinking about how much I wished my mom was still around to be a part of her life. Instead of wallowing in that or letting it ruin an otherwise really lovely afternoon, I decided to show Diana how her grandmother would have loved to be spending time with her. 

So, I pulled out the ingredients to make muffins and all the bowls, spoons and muffin tins, I plopped Diana up on the counter, and held her hands as she put in the eggs, water and oil. I held the bowl as she sloppily stirred everything together. I found myself saying the same things to her that my mom used to say to me: "Make sure you get you get all the lumps out", "don't eat too much of that now or you'll feel sick", and "great job, sweetie, great job." 

Diana loved it. As a matter of fact, she loved it so much that we made two batches! Then, when we were done, I wrapped them up, and we delivered them to our neighbors to say "Happy Mother's Day" to them because that's what my mother would have done. 

Today, I am grateful for having had a mother that taught me about the love of baking and of caring for others with her example of a life of service and sharing, and for the fact that while she's not here anymore, her legacy can live on and on if I choose to share it with her granddaughter, Diana, and all of you.

Monday, May 5, 2014

What I learned from my 20 month old

When I started thinking about becoming a mom, I was more focused on what I could teach Diana than on what she would teach me. Little did I know that she would be one of the greatest teachers I could have hoped to have.

Lately, she's taught me a great deal about patience by being absolutely uninterested in doing anything quickly or that doesn't suit her agenda. She's taught me to enjoy the little things by showing me her fascination with picking up rocks out of the backyard to see what's underneath. She's taught me the fun that can be had just by making noise.

However, the biggest lesson that she's imparted on me in the past few months is to take the time to celebrate each individual step in a process.

How?? 

This kid LOVES to play with blocks. She likes to stack them up high and knock them down. She loves trying new designs and configurations. She even loves the act of dumping them out of their bag. But what she loves most is taking a moment to pause and celebrate each piece as it goes into place.

video
What an awesome way to go through life, and definitely a good lesson for this mom to learn.

I don't know about you, but I am usually so focused on the destination that I forget to celebrate the little achievements along the way. I tend to get so focused on what I think the end result should look like that I forget to get excited about watching the pieces come together.

Diana is not at all worried about what the final product will be. Instead, she's PUMPED about getting that one piece in place, and stops to cheer herself on before moving on to the next piece. What would it be like if we did that, as adults? 

I don't know yet - but I am going to find out!