Sunday, January 02, 2011
If I'm Dreaming, Don't Wake Me Up
While not super huge on the list, one hobby I kind of like is cooking. I didn't realize until I had kids, that I specifically like cooking for appreciative audiences. As in, I get a huge thrill out of planning, organizing, and creating something special for people to eat, and I especially like going to all that effort when they clearly enjoy the end results.
It should surprise no one that having children has been one long and ongoing test of my patience in this regard.
A few years ago I pretty much stopped cooking, not because I was too busy, or because homemade meals didn't fit our lifestyle anymore, but simply because my ego couldn't take the hits.
I'd spend several days planning a perfect meal, shopping for perfect ingredients, block out the time to go through each step, and proudly serve it, exquisitely arranged and impeccably timed---and my darlings would scrunch up their noses and began to wail how much they hated whatever-it-was, and why, oh why, couldn't we just have chicken nuggets or mac & cheese instead?
Time is a marvelous thing, and lately I've detected a shift of sorts.
Grace's new favorite food is salmon, and she doesn't really care how it's prepared. Lightly glazed, pan-seared salmon fillets make her eyes light up bigger than Christmas. Mia has a newfound addiction to hummus and recently polished off three slices of ham quiche--a dish previously pronounced "completely disgusting" by all four kiddos. Mercie asked for seconds and thirds on homemade wild rice & shrimp chowder, and didn't pick the shrimp out. And I nearly passed out last night when Eric skipped the navajo tacos in order to create a custom dinner salad, full of healthy things like lettuce, avocados, beans, and cheese.
Even better, pretty much every day now I hear things like, "Thank you for that yummy dinner, Mom," or "Mom, this (insert whatever it is) is SOOOOO good! You are, like, the best cooker in the whole world!" Or, patting a very full tummy, "Mommy, when I grow up I want to cook as good food as you."
We've had the past two weeks off for the holidays. We've spent lots and lots of hours together in the kitchen, also far more enjoyably than I would have expected. Instead of monster messes, the kids are actually getting old enough to be truly helpful. And things actually soak into their little brains, and I don't have to repeat myself fifty times!
Last night I sat on the couch in the front room and the kids, honest to goodness, worked together to clean up after we made dinner together. I swear I'm not making this up. Every now and again one of them would detour through the front room to hug me or pat me and tell me thanks again for dinner.
My babies are growing up. I could so get used to this.