On Tuesday we made chocolate chocolate-chip cookies, without the chocolate chips, because, once again, I ate them. Not by myself entirely, mind you. Every time I chew chocolate chips, stealthy stolen from the baking cupboard, someone sees me, or smells them, and asks for some. And I can't say no, because doing so would undermine my credibility--making me a hypocrite. I hate the word hypocrite; I don't want to be anything that starts with hypo.
So, between the five of us munching on chips from the baking cupboard, we can only hope to bake with them within 48 hours of buying them. Beyond 48 hours, forget it.
You're about to see an insane number of pictures of Mary and Beth and cookie baking. Why? Because I love baking with these precious girls.
- I love that Mary dutifully makes balls with her dough, while popping a bit in her mouth only intermittently.
- I love that Beth really wants to be a Momma's helper, but ends up eating more dough than she rolls (yes, I worry about the raw eggs). She is like her Momma. A cookie monster. I love that about her. I watch closely, because she'll ruin her next meal if I'm not vigilant. I put 13 cookies on her pan myself, to her 3. Then I help Mary finish filling hers, before taking away the dough and pans, and releasing the girls. I finish the baking tasks myself. This saves them both from gluttony and malnutrition, because we bake twice a week. Don't ask what saves me from cookie gluttony. Nothing, right now. Breastfeeding burns calories in Momma's body; it's good for both of us. When Beth decides to stop nursing, I'll have to give up cookies and eat carrots and celery. God help me love them--carrots and celery, that is.
- I love how their eyes light up when I announce baking time.
- I love how dutifully, cheerfully, they go and wash their hands. Not all directions are followed cheerfully around here, but washing hands to help in the kitchen is always done joyfully. I love that.
- I love how they dip their hands into the dry ingredients, feeling all the different textures.
- I love how the boys, mostly uninterested in helping, always manage to make their way to the kitchen, just as the first batch comes out. I really love that. Cookies, made with love by Momma and sisters, are one of God's graces to our family. They bring joy. That new, bisque-colored GE range in the background there, also brings joy. It heats to 350 degrees in four minutes!
- I love how Mary and Beth put their hands over mine when we use the electric mixer. I love how they giggle over the vibration.
- I love that Beth copies everything I do--including turning the bowl as we mix.
Tuesday it was chocolate chocolate cookies, Friday it was oatmeal raisin. Beth eagerly started, measuring out some rolled oats before Momma even gave instructions. Does she have it memorized?
These little girls are in bed, long asleep. How I want to scoop them up from their beds right now and rock them in my rocker--drinking in their milky skin and eyelashes, trying to etch each curve into memory, for when they're grown and gone, leaving me to rock alone. They are the sweetest blessings!
God knew! He really knew! We tried to get pregnant when we had our boys, but not so with our girls. We just didn't do anything artificial or fool-proof. I didn't want to be an old Momma, but I can't imagine life without these girls. It would be so heavy here without them. They are God's grace to me--to this household.
May I give unsolicited advice? Go ahead and throw an egg at your computer if you want. Let the babies come! God knows what's in store for you. He has perfect plans for every moment of your life. If he wants to give you a baby, let Him. I promise you, there will never be a baby in your life who won't bless you. Even a baby lost through miscarriage still blesses. No, you can't do anything about your husband's vasectomy choice, but you can keep your own heart open. Though my husband had the vasectomy, I believe God will still bless my open heart--my heart for His blessings, for His open hand, no matter what the hand holds.
No, there is nothing glamorous about people always staring at me with my kids, wondering if I'm the grandma or the mother. That hurts sometimes. But it pales in comparison to the blessing that these girls are--born when I was 40 and 42.
Rearing children is hard. Gruelling even, at times. But remember Sally Clarkson and her fishes and loaves? Nothing forces you to give God your fishes and loaves, daily, like mothering does.
It's the most beautiful, most worthwhile, most world-changing thing you'll ever do.
And no other endeavour changes--sanctifies, even--your own heart as much as mothering does. This is true whether you've given birth, or opened your heart to an orphan.
"You didn't eat more dough, did you Beth, after Momma asked you not to?"
Do you think that's a guilty face? That full mouth giving it away?
The counter and the floor are always messy afterwards--far messier than if I'd done the baking myself. But looking at this mess, I feel so blessed. It doesn't get any better than this.
I don't want tidiness or perfection. I don't want a fat savings account or manicured nails or exciting adventures. I want an abundant life. A messy, poured-out life, lived by faith...full of thanks-giving.
How about you?