It all started when I was a little girl, helping my mommy bake. My mom would let me help dump the sugar into the mixing bowl for making a triple recipe of chocolate-chip cookies, or she would let me help roll out the pie crusts for two beautiful golden pumpkin pies.
The inevitable problem came when I insisted on helping with things that I wasn’t quite ready for- like cracking eggs. At the age of about four or five, I insisted on cracking the eggs for the cookies we were making. I was sure that the process of smashing a perfect round egg and emptying its contents into a bowl had to be the funnest part in the whole baking process, and I was missing out! So one day I grabbed one cold smooth egg and, at my mom’s insistence, gently tapped it against the edge of the counter. Of course that didn’t work, so I decided to do it more like I always saw my mom do it: I gave it a good hard smack against the corner and voila! It was instantly in two! My mother proceeded to jump as if a grenade had just exploded. Then she grabbed the egg shells with her hands over mine and guided the remaining contents into the stainless steel mixing bowl. Her ears turned red as she tried desperately not to get mad. I remember the goopy egg white slowly drooling off the counter onto the floor in stringy little intermittent globs. I quickly reached for the next egg. My mom immediately put her hand on mine and said with a kind but stern smile, “Let’s do it together this time.”
In the years that followed, the dance continued in which I began to do things by myself and make more choices by myself, without my parents’ guidance. Some of my choices left lots of slimy egg white dripping to the floor, and the messes weren’t always so easy to clean up. Fortunately, just like cooking produces not only messes, but also delicious foods, making choices in life results in challenges and beautiful blessings- like my three beautiful children.
Now my little girl, Lily, enjoys “helping” me in the kitchen. She insists on helping with things that make my heart leap up into the top of my throat: like stirring things that easily spill or getting the eggs out of the best compact refrigerator. It takes every ounce of strength for me to resist screaming and ordering her out of the kitchen, as flour flies through the air and dough falls into blobs everywhere except where it belongs.
It’s at these moments that I stop and remember myself as a child. A crooked mischievous smile slowly spreads across my face, and I think back to the fun I had “helping” my poor unsuspecting mom in the kitchen. Then I turn back and enjoy baking with my baby girl as she slops on the counter, tastes the brown sugar, and skips the number three when we count the cups of flour that we’re pouring in the mixing bowl together. I’ll bet that one day soon she will insist on cracking an egg, and I’ll bet my ears will turn a slight pinkish color as I try not to lose my patience, and I’ll bet that my confidence in her and my love for her will help her to become the amazing woman that she is meant to be.
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