My son and I spent a lot of time together this weekend. Like, a lot. My husband was getting over a virus, so he was resting. Meanwhile, my son and I had both been sick ourselves in the two weeks leading up to this weekend. So, I was excited to spend quality time with my little boy, and we were both eager to be active ... to maybe even leave the house. We split our time among a number of activities — cooking, shopping, getting ice cream, running around at the park, riding bikes, even attending a family yoga class.
I'm a big fan of planning. I make a lot of to-do lists, and while I don't ask my family to do the same, I do ask that we have conversations about what we each want to do and/or get out of the weekend. So, on Saturday morning, my son and I set our intentions for the weekend. We discussed all the things we would do, including Mommy's errands, picking the grapefruit off the tree and "playing toys."
Among our many plans for the weekend was making muffins. But we just simply ran out of time. And after all we had managed to squeeze into our weekend, I wasn't too disappointed to cut something out. Besides, my son had helped make breakfast Saturday morning, so I felt good about our time in the kitchen. I was OK with saving our muffin-making for another day.
Well, around 7 o'clock on Sunday evening, my son bounced into my bedroom as I was getting my pajamas on.
"Mommy, we haven’t made muffins yet!" he said.
Surprised that he'd remembered, I said, "You’re right. Would you like to?"
He jumped up and down. "Yes, yes, yes!" he exclaimed.
So, down to the kitchen we went. We got his kitchen stand back out, and I put him to work. (We love these blueberry muffins from Cherryvale Farms, which we can make egg- and dairy-free to accommodate his allergies.) He helped pour the ingredients into the bowl. He operated the hand mixer. He put the muffin tin liners into their respective spots. And he directed me as to the order in which they should be filled.
When they came out of the oven, my son was oh-so-ready to have a warm muffin. Look, I know muffins are not a health food (even if they have blueberries in them). But the memories that we are making — having warm muffins right out of the oven on a January Sunday night — well, these are memories that I will treasure forever.
These are memories that speak to the power not just of food, but of time spent in the kitchen — of time spent together. It's easy to get caught up worrying about calories and sugar and fat and carbs and gluten. And all of that stuff is important — to a point. But for my money, a healthy relationship with food is about realizing what feeds your soul and nourishes your body. And sometimes that nourishment isn’t about the macronutrients in the food. It’s about the people you’re cooking with and eating with. It’s about watching your son, all of 3 years old, operating a hand mixer like it’s nothing. It’s remembering the excitement he had running into the kitchen to make that snack. It’s realizing that there was value in the time we spent together in the kitchen that evening that could not have been replaced by a store-bought snack.
My son is quite young, so I doubt he will remember this particular Sunday night. But I am confident he will remember the collection of evenings we have spent baking muffins in his younger years. I’m confident he will remember the feeling — that he'll remember the love.
And I for one will never forget that little 3-year-old boy running into my room to remind me that we hadn’t made our muffins yet.