The Trials of Homemade Love

Sometimes I like being a parent. Sometimes I don’t.

By Dulce Zamora

Our house may have a lot of emotional gremlins, but it’s not lacking in handmade love.

For Valentine’s Day, my 9 year old daughter made bookmarks for her classmates all on her own. Okay, maybe I provided her with the materials (strips of cardstock, ribbon, charms, and washi tape). I also created a similar bookmark last year. What was impressive this year was that she asked for the materials, and then constructed it all without supervision. It was remarkable not so much because she was capable of crafting it, but that she took incentive and followed through. I consider that a big win toward raising self-sufficient kids!

Together, we also made raspberry jam heart cookies. I gathered all of the ingredients for the dough, J mixed it all together in the food processor. Then, because it was getting late, I had her take a shower as I rolled the dough, cut out the hearts, and baked them. It was a challenge to keep the batter from sticking to the rolling pin and silicone mat, even with flour all over them. And I sure did sweat a lot being by the oven (even with the air con on), but that is all life in the tropics. At any rate, the cookies were ready for embellishing by the time J finished showering and chatting with her sister.

I sprinkled powdered sugar on the cookies, and J spooned the homemade raspberry jam onto them.

“They look so pretty,” I said. “Good job making the jam look like a heart.”

“Thanks,” she said.

“We make a great team,” I added.

Then, in all earnest, J asked, “What did you do, Mommy?”

“Are you serious?”

“What?” she asked.

“Next time,” I said, “You will roll the dough and cut the shapes yourself so you know how long and how much work that takes.”

The moral of the story for me is: Sometimes when we think we are helping our kids, we are not. We rob them of the opportunity to grow, to realize what it really takes to complete a goal.

Last week, Noel was cutting roasted chicken for the girls during dinner. He shredded the chicken and diced it on his plate. This is something we always did for the kids when they were younger.

“They can cut their own chicken,” I said. “They’re 9 and 11 years old.”

“But it’s a big piece,” he said, pointing to the chicken thigh and leg joined together.

“So?” I said. “They’re capable of cutting it.”

“But it’s hard,” said S.

“You will get better when you keep doing it,” I replied.

Noel was silent, looking uncertain how to proceed. Then he pushed the diced chicken into S’s plate with his fork. When he tried to do the same into J’s plate, she refused.

“No, thanks,” she said. “I can cut my own chicken.”

S stuck her tongue out at J.

“Daddy’s just trying to be nice to us,” S said to me. “Why do you have to be like that?”

“He’s not doing you any favors by cutting your chicken for you,” I said. “You don’t grow up to be an adult and learn how to do things right away. It takes day in and day out of actually doing it to get better at it.”

S pursed her lips and gave me the stink eye. I did not think it was fair that Noel comes in from his many work trips and he’s the good guy while I’m always here and I’m the bad guy. But I held my ground.

Raising kids isn’t always fun and games. It can be lonely being the adult, the one who has to teach them the value of hard work, persistence, and discipline. But I also try to remind myself to enjoy time with them.

For Valentine’s Day, I gave my girls each a soft purple bear stuffed with lavender flowers and wheat. It was a Bobbie heat pack bear I got for them from our trip to the Bridestowe Lavender Estate in Tasmania in January. The bear can be heated up in the microwave and used as a hot pack.

S and J squealed in delight as they had begged me for a Bobbie bear at the estate. We introduced the purple bear to their family of stuffed animals. We gave each of the animals their own reactions to Bobbie, based on the personalities the girls had assigned to them.

I find being a parent to be both rewarding and deflating. Sometimes I gleam with pride. Sometimes I shake my head. Sometimes it’s so much fun being a kid with them again. Sometimes I have to be the bad guy. Hopefully it all evens out. That’s when I just have to breathe and have faith: It will be okay!

© 2019 Windswept Wildflower

February 17, 2019

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