Prior to this, I had hovered anxiously over my children any time they worked in the kitchen. (I also had a 'tea set of idolatry'-- a set that is too special to be used-- but that is another blog post.) I sat at the table-- on my hands at times-- and quietly watched. Finally, I started recording** everything that happened as a way to keep myself busy.
Fast-forward six years, and my youngest is ten. This morning she and I were the only ones awake. She asked, "Can I make pancakes?"
I said, "Sure." I have come a long way in six years.
Then the questions began. She has two older sisters. She has done a lot in the kitchen without me, but not on her own. With a sense of deja vu, I sat at the table and prepared to listen and answer.
"Can we recycle this? Wait, it's not paper, so that's no."
"Oops. I misread the baking powder. I put in two tablespoons instead of two teaspoons. Should I add more sugar?"
"How many is four servings? Does that mean only four pancakes? With all this batter?"
"Can I double it?"
"I won't add more baking powder since I already have two tablespoons."
"What if I make a big, giant pancake, and then cut it into pie slices? Oh, wait. That would be very hard to flip.
"Can I use this?"
"Do I need to turn it on?"
"Can I start cooking it now?"
"What do I scoop it with? Oh, yeah."
"Do I turn it down now?"
"I'm so bad at flipping pancakes. They're all sticking together now. I mean, two are sticking together."
"Oh, no. I'm not supposed to cook them AGAIN. Oh, dear. I flipped them once, I flipped them twice-- after the twice time, I flipped them THRICE."
"These ones aren't burned, but they're scratched up. I'm so bad at this."
"Here's the first ones."
"This is for Daddy, whenever he wakes up."
Her sisters came in:
"Thank you for the pancakes!"
"This pancake is so cute. I'm going to keep it for myself, and I'm going to call it Bob."
Her daddy woke up:
"Oh! Somebody has been very busy!"
"Daddy, I made a special pancake for you."
The process of letting go is a sudden thrill at the end of aching hardship. It's a smaller, repetitive version of childbirth-- agony, and the soaring beauty of new life. It takes my breath away.
*The AO conference has only happened once, although they had a retreat last year, I believe.
**Sadly, the resulting blog post (on a different blog provider) was deleted several years back after I switched to Blogger, along with my first couple of years of blogging. Watch your old blogs, folks. Sometimes they get deleted when you aren't looking.