This rhubarb buckle bars post was originally published in the Greenwood Daily Journal on Saturday May 11, 2012.
When you are a mother, there seems to be an endless supply of things that make life interesting. The late night call for a pick up from a sleepover. The sound of footsteps as your child sneaks into bed after a bad dream. An unexpected compliment on a new recipe you tried. Every new experience is another color to add to the kaleidoscope of motherhood.
Life’s little moments are not the planned ones, they are the random snippets that you don’t see coming. Just like how my best conversations with my kids are had in the car, great memories are made in the ‘off time’.You can’t create meaningful dialogue that flows and doesn’t seem forced. It just doesn’t work when you say, “This is an important life experience, pay attention and remember this!” Your kids need to stumble across this by themselves. Who are we, as parents, to decide what is and isn’t memorable?
The first few years of my son’s lives, I tried to give them so many educational experiences to mold and shape them. Don’t get me wrong, many of these helped form them into the fantastic young men that they are growing into now, but many things we did were just for me. Simply put: they just don’t remember.
The music classes, day camps and playgroups were more for me, I see that now looking back. I thought this would stick with them but when I ask them if they remember this or that they never really do. I can recall the funny things they did, where we went or who was there, but it is all lost to them. I wish I had known this then.
A few weeks ago my kids were gone for a few nights and when I went to pick them up to bring them home it was brought to light just what they do remember. Walking in the door my youngest hugged me and said he missed my smell. My smell? How can this possibly be a compliment? What he meant was that what he remembers about me, what he misses when he is gone is that scent. He told me that when he is near me I smell like cookies, coffee, and honeysuckle. To him, this is what home smells like. He took a deep breath and told me this is his memory of me.
Later, my oldest randomly mentioned that he really misses my morning sounds in the kitchen when he stays away from home. He said that ever since he was very little it was reassuring to wake up and hear me puttering about in the kitchen. Getting breakfast ready or cleaning up. These sounds are woven into the fabric of his memories.
So to complete the circle I had to ask my husband what he thinks of when he thinks of his mother. Along with her humor and fiery red hair, he fondly remembers her special treats she, too, made in the kitchen. Celebratory cinnamon toast on a special day, rhubarb crisp in the first warm days of summer, and hazelnut coffee on a cold winter morning.
What I take away from this is that it wasn’t so much what I did , on purpose, to leave an indelible mark on my children’s hearts. It is in all the ways I move about in their lives. Making this, fixing that. Just being there.
I wouldn’t trade a minute of my life with anyone else. Well, maybe if they had a cleaning lady and 9 hours of sleep a day…
…I kid, I kid.
Really though, I am happy to be in a place where what we do together doesn’t matter as much as long as we are doing it together. Whether it be a day of hiking or fishing in the backyard, my kids just want to be with me. I don’t have to put on a show or try to teach them a lesson. Ten years from now all that they will remember is that I was here and present in that experience.
So for my husband, even though this weekend is Mother’s Day, I am making rhubarb buckle bars. Last time I made them he was nostalgic for hours. Perfect for outdoor entertaining, these rhubarb bars bake up nicely and can be eaten by hand or topped with just a dollop of fresh whipped cream and a few fresh strawberries.
Recipe for Rhubarb Buckle Bars: