I’ve been trying not to shoo her out of the kitchen.
I’ve been trying to see meal prep as a learning experience, as an opportunity to teach her the beauty of nourishing others – both their hearts and their bellies.
But then I glance at her hair in the egg yolk and see the raw bacon she’s dragging on the kitchen counter and all I can think about is that I haven’t yet chopped the potatoes and quickly now, off we go to wash the salmonella out of her locks while the toast grows cold.
So, I wouldn’t say it has been going well, not really.
I know it won’t always be this way. I know there are some evenings I have the patience and stamina to whip up a batch of raw brownies and let her measure everything with a wobbly hand and generous math. I know there are some evenings I won’t mind the mess.
I know there are some evenings I will.
Note: Would you look at that maturity? Knowing my own limits, adjusting my expectations, being kinder to myself? I’m on fiiiiiire over here.
So, until I can trust myself not to yell when she washes the broccoli in the dog dish or sprinkles (dumps) finishing salt (sugar) onto the chicken, I’m switching it up.
Bee rules her kitchen; I rule mine.
While I’m braising the short ribs, she’s stirring chocolate stew.
While I’m slicing apples, she’s mixing snow ice cream.
While I’m roasting potatoes, she’s baking rosemary muffins.
Together, but separate.
Separate, but together.
There was a time when I would have reprimanded myself for this. When I would have rearranged meal prep to allow for the extra mess, when I would have martyred my way through dinner hour, sighing through every spill and mistake and correction. When I would have believed a “good mother” would never shoo her daughter out of the kitchen, would never grow frustrated over spilled flour.
But I no longer believe in the idea of a good mother. I believe you do the best you can, when you can, with what you can.
I believe it’s okay to protect the parts of your day that you love. It’s okay to keep them for yourself, to transform dinner hour into “me” time. The sipping, the tasting, the sauteeing, the stirring – maybe you make it as sacred and enjoyable as you can, with or without sticky banana fingers that want to help.
Maybe you shoo her out of your kitchen and into her own.
Maybe that’s learning, too.
Yesterday, she asks me if I want to try her new recipe. It’s strawberry soup, she says. Do you love it?
I do! I say.
It’s better if it’s really, really hot, she says. I’m going to need to use your oven because I don’t have an oven in my kitchen.
OK, I say. Someday you can use my oven.
We both believe it.