“Mom, can I help you make dinner?” She looks up at me, her doe eyes wide and unblinking, swimming with the hope that I will say yes. It isn’t always my first inclination to give in to this request. Cooking dinner is not my favorite task. Add to it the stress of an eight year old trying to help and my initial reaction shies toward the solo act of meal preparation.
But more often than not, I stop myself from this inward longing to go it alone, and focus more on the privilege it is to share these sweet, fleeting moments with my girl while her hair still hangs in white strands over full, pink cheeks. She’s young, and I’m still the coolest person alive in her eyes. I want to soak these moments up as the gift that they are.
So I step back and bite my lip, staving off a sigh and instead pushing my mouth into a wide grin. She pulls up a stool, and together we get to seasoning the chicken, tossing the salad, sautéing the vegetables, and buttering the bread. She wants to do it all, even cut the onion, but when her eyes start to burn, she quickly shoves it away and settles for the less glamorous task of setting the table.
Heading into the Thanksgiving season, I’m looking for more ways to show my children gratitude. I require this act of them, but I’ve realized lately that I’m not modeling it as I should. I often act as though everything I do for and with them is some great sacrifice, and of course it is. Motherhood is one giant act of sacrifice, a constant laying down of my wants in order to pour into these little ones who have captured me.
But they don’t need to feel the weight of that sacrifice.
This act of modeling gratitude is something I must work on every day of the year, not just during the month of November when I feel a heightened sense of obligation to be thankful. This month, however, offers a good launching point in the direction of this sacrificial love that fills my children with the knowledge that time with them is of the utmost importance to me.
With the holidays fast approaching, I see more and more opportunity to give intense quality time to my children. This all starts in the kitchen with my daughter. We have plans to cook many meals together this month. She may even plan out a menu for us to follow. As she dreams of chopping and stirring and baking all manner of desserts (because I firmly believe her menu will be 90% sweet, 10% nutrition), I look into the future and hope and pray that these moments will leave an imprint that she then passes to the next generation.
Family bonds start in the kitchen around savory dishes, sweet aromas, and the laughter and banter of parent and child. With fruit skewered on blessed plates, and tender meat cooked to perfection, we will share meals together as a family, giving thanks for the many ways we have been blessed.
Family life is hard. It’s not as glamorous as much of the online realm would have us believe. Most days my family looks anything but picture perfect. The children are dirty, and so is my house. Some days there is more bickering than laughter, and we don’t always like one another. But we’re family, and at the end of the day these are the people who matter most.
So I will continue to open my kitchen to my daughter for as long as she will join me there. I’ll exercise my gratitude in this sacrificial act, and lead us into the holidays with hearts full of Thanksgiving….and bellies full of food.