I often look at these amazing pictures online. Pictures of moms smiling as they pour batter into muffin tins. Pictures of children laughing as they sneak a bite. Everything in its place, not a trace of flour anywhere. Its beautiful, really.
And nothing like my reality.
Here’s a small sampling of what its like to bake with MY littles. I wish I could say I over exaggerated some of this scenario, but alas, this is REALLY what it look like.
- One of the Littles gets the bright idea to bake cookies and come running to ask when we can start this endeavor. Outwardly, I’m smiling. Inwardly, I’m groaning.
- Excited chatter takes over as we decide on the type of cookie to bake. At first its all fun and games. Then the real fun begins.
- Each Little decides they need to be as close to Mom and the mixer as humanly possible. Elbows are thrown, fights break out, I once watched my innocent 2-year-old push her big sister off the chair with surprising ease.
- Then once positions have been figured out (with much, MUCH mediation from yours truly), we start measuring out ingredients. When a recipe asks for 2 teaspoons, I often have to break it into 1/2 teaspoons to make sure each Little gets a turn of throwing it in the mixer.
- There is much protesting if I accidently skip a Little in the proper order. And tears. Usually a 5 minute break is needed to make sure that hurt feelings are resolved.
- When I turn to grab the next ingredient, its not at all surprising to find that a Little has added even more of the previous ingredient. Why not? If a little is good, then a lot is going to be better.
- Dump the previous batter and start over. Reiterating the importance of sticking to the recipe, and how we need to make sure it’s the right ingredients to make the delicious cookies.
- When it comes time to break the eggs, there is much debate that they get to help. I’m then faced with a dilemma. Let them break the eggs, at which point I’ll be fishing out eggshells for the next 10 minutes, or insist on doing it myself and listen to the cries of injustice.
- Decide to break the eggs myself, then as I turn to throw away the eggs, listen in horror as I hear one of the Littles decide to turn on the mixer full force and send flour spraying throughout the kitchen.
- Mutter under my breath as I grab the broom and start sweeping up the fine powder. Listen as the Littles pass blame from the youngest to the oldest as the culprit. I can’t take any one of them seriously as they all now look like the Abdominal Snowman.
- Allow the Littles a sampling of their creation. A sampling is quickly interpreted as handfuls.
- Finally get the cookies into the oven, and listen to cries “Are they ready yet?!” about once every other minute.
- As the cookies are taken out of the oven and cooled, I can finally give each Littles a cookie and send them downstairs to play. Because Mama is tired, in a way I didn’t know was possible while baking.
While this is a fair representation of baking with my Littles, and there’s a lot of sarcasm and begrudging attitude, I also relish it. The noise, the messiness, the Littles underfoot. The begging, the whining, the crying, the laughing, the teasing. I’m going to miss it all.
And its why I say yes to their requests.
Even though I know its going to take 3x longer than if I’d done it by myself. Because we’re creating memories, for them and for me. I know that when they’re baking with their own children someday, they’ll look back and remember these times fondly. And these same memories will keep me company when the house is quiet and I no longer have Littles in the house.
Real life baking is messy and exhausting and time-consuming. But its so worth it too.