“You should open a dessert stand! You’re the best cooker.”
My two daughters sat devouring their berry crisp, their short hair a mess, their ever-longer legs dangling from the bench seat at the kitchen table. A blueberry/strawberry/crumbly mess gathered at the edges of their stuffed mouths. Was this thrown-together dessert really that good? To them, it was. It was just sweet enough, warm, and made on a whim. A little, I suppose, like the way I mother.
As a mother of three, I’ve just now begun to take stock of the way in which I’m raising my children. I no longer pore over pages of parenting books and while I still read parenting blogs and turn to others for advice, I’m standing pretty firm on my own two exhausted legs. For the most part, I’ve got this figured out. I’m not perfect, and I’m not cookie cutter. But I’m not failure either. I’m somewhere in the middle. Thrown together from the good stuff available right now. No exact recipe followed, just mixed up with bits and pieces of advice I’ve gleaned over the years.
Even though I know I’m doing the best I know how for my family at the moment given all the resources available to me, sometimes I still question my abilities. And much like my fruit crisp non recipe, others sometimes question what I’m doing. This parallel played perfectly recently at a friend’s cookout/pool party. Our contribution to the pot luck was a peach crisp, made with fresh peaches picked at our local orchard just days before. Was it a Pinterest-worthy presentation? Nope. I knew the ingredients were good though, and I’ve made it enough times to feel confident that others would find it enjoyable.
“Ew. This isn’t very good. I guess I’ll eat it anyways.” Her words both stung. She sat beside me on the perimeter of the small community pool in a lounge chair, making chit chat with the woman beside her. She probably didn’t know I could hear her, and she almost certainly didn’t know I was the one who brought the dish she which was turning her nose up. An older woman, she struck me as someone who took great pride as a home chef, so I tried not to let her comment get to me. And then, the internal dialogue of doubt began in earnest.
Maybe it really is bad. Maybe I don’t know what I’m doing. Maybe…maybe…
I didn’t say a thing. I got up, went into the dining area, and scooped up a serving for myself. As the gooey peach pieces and flaky oatmeal crust fell onto my styrofoam plate, I couldn’t help but feel a little upset. Did she know how long it took me to peel these peaches? Did she know how late I stayed up to get it done? Did she know it’s not easy to cook anything, let alone a homemade dessert, when you have three young children around? Again, I questioned myself. Maybe I accidentally used salt instead of sugar? Maybe I used too much cinnamon? Maybe…maybe…
I took a bite. It was…delicious. What in the hell was that lady talking about?! I mean, I’m not Martha freaking Stewart but it was by no means…gross. My frustration turned to amusement. Talk about a faux pas, and a lesson we can all learn. When at a potluck, don’t dish on a dish you don’t like, unless you’re absolutely sure the one who made it can’t hear you. Even then, it’s probably best to keep your mouth shut and discreetly slide the offending food into the trash. For reals.
Back to the mothering thing. I’m certain there are days, weeks, and months ahead where I will once again feel incompetent. Where I will once again question every little ingredient I’ve thrown into this mix. But hopefully, prayerfully, my children will turn out just like my fruit crisp. Pretty darn good if I do say so myself.