Saturday, September 11, 2010
It was the best butter
There is often peace here, yes, but I am far from perfect.
The truth of motherhood, for those of us fortunate enough to know the brighter side of it, is messier than we sometimes lead others to believe.
It was of concern to me, rereading my last post, when I saw the vision of myself peacefully stirring the oatmeal pot while my children played quietly, their hair neatly brushed, the house tidy, my son perhaps picking the flowers he was holding in the featured photograph. Some mornings, magically, are like that. But there are other mornings, too. Mornings much less inspiring and real, those I am much less inclined to sit down and write about, much less characterize my life by.
Often these mornings start off with grand ambitions on my part. Like yesterday, when I decided that even though it was a school morning, I was going to get some of those strawberries I froze in June and make some strawberry pancakes for my sweet little cherubs. How many children, after all, are lucky enough to have a mom who will make them home made strawberry pancakes, with real, home frozen berries, syrup from trees grown in their neighborhood, fresh local butter... my idea of heaven, anyway, so being super-mom supported my personal pancake craving, and I set to work. The batter was whipped up in a matter of moments with some wheat germ and ground flaxseed mixed in for good luck, and as the pancakes came off the big iron griddle I put thick slabs of butter on them , and carried the steaming plates into the dining room.
There they were: three, beautiful plates, each with three buttery pancakes and a pool of syrup. The sun was beginning to peek in the window, there were flowers on the table. Even little Fiona had a torn-up piece of pancake on her highchair tray. I slid her into her seat and she began eating in earnest, concentrating fully as her little pincers picked up the microscopic, absolutely unchokeable morsels. Liam dug right in, huge, floppy, dripping bites hanging off his fork. Aoife picked a little, and then her face turned, and she said to me, I'm not eating these. This butter smells like toot.
If another adult had been there, I would have laughed. But another adult was not there, and so somehow this didn't seem funny to me, because it almost seemed like Aoife was seeing right through my supermother disguise and was playing the part of the not-so-perfect child, who turns down perfectly lovely strawberry pancakes just to try on a power struggle for size. And I played right along with her, what with it being 6:45 in the morning and my husband had left an hour and a half ago, I stood up and yelled something about only serving cereal from here on out, and I grabbed the pancakes away from her, and thunked them down angrily in front of me. She looked up at me through a curtain of shiny blond hair, her eyes huge and blue. A smile played on her lips, because I was playing her game. A battle was on.
Why do I get myself into these moments, I wonder while I am in them. Why can't I just casually glance up and say, fine, then don't eat those toot-smelling pancakes, and then quietly finish my own pancakes while the smell drifts up into her little nose, the syrup soaking into the sweet, creamy butter, the thin, lovely pancakes? While my eyes were down, she surely would have begun to eat.
I don't actually remember how it was resolved, except that she did eat the pancakes, and I did not force her to, and while I was sitting there eating the pancakes faster than I had imagined myself while I was cooking them, I thought about the lovely scene I had painted here on the blog, describing myself glowing over the oatmeal pot, and I thought, no, the same thing does not happen every day, because sometimes mommy has a temper tantrum.