It was about the muffins, but it wasn’t about the muffins.
I had a rough night with our 3mos old the night before and woke up feeling grumpy and frustrated.
I'd promised our 4yr old the previous evening that I would make muffins with her that morning, but I really wasn't feeling like it when I got into the kitchen. (She's excited and anxious about starting school in September, and it has made her usual high energy a bit harder for my introverted self to cope with.) I was secretly hoping she'd forget so I could have a slower start to my day.
4yr olds don't forget anything.
As soon as she heard me moving around, she was two steps behind me asking about muffins. Anyone who has ever cooked with a small child knows things go faster when the small child is not directly involved, and I wanted to just get them made and over with.
She had different ideas — she REALLY wanted to help, so I took a deep breath, put on a smile, and said, "okay!"
I pulled over the vintage step stool for her to sit on, and in doing so took a moment to share my memory of sitting on the same stool around her age in her great great aunt's sunny Nova Scotia kitchen. I shared another memory of how I used to pick little bouquets of flowers for that same aunt, tuck them into her door knocker, and knock before running off to hide in the bushes — waiting for her discover the gift I had left.
My mood started to shift as I talked about helping her grandmother make cookies when I was a girl, and my memories of picking strawberries with my grandmother..
As we worked together over the mixing bowl, finding ingredients and checking the recipe, I told stories about myself at her age — weaving connections, through me, to beloved people she’ll never meet and those she doesn’t see often enough. By the time we were matching the measuring cup numbers in the recipe with the ones on our cups, my earlier mood had lifted.
Grabbing that opportunity to connect with my daughter, even when my head was screaming for some space and some quiet, was exactly the connection I needed that morning to turn it all around. The smile of accomplishment on her face as we slid the muffins into the oven told me it was what she needed, too.