The word special is a four letter word in my house. Special has always meant ugly, fat, stupid, or just plain sad.
“She is so special.”
See the double meaning? If any guy ever said the above sentence with reference to me my brother would guffaw, snort, and then get a little angry as he asked, “Does he even know you?” Because any time I heard the word I would roll my eyes while saying, “I would rather be dead than special.”
My brother was the only one who could ever give me birthday cards that said, “You’re so special! Hope you have a really special day Tris . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . tan!” It was a joke and he was the only one who could make that joke. And I always wanted to hurt him a little when he broke up my name like that. I don’t mind nicknames from most people but just freaking say the nickname already! Don’t chicken out in the middle of it. Of course he knew how much it bugged me so he kept doing it. For years. The love between siblings is complicated.
My mom always made a big deal out of holidays. Valentine’s Day was simple yet filled with love. She would inject love into our morning routine with simple gestures like pink milk and heart shaped pancakes. There was usually a little gift for each of us at the table. She went out of her way to make the day a little extra nice for all of us. I try to make things extra nice for my family but somehow my attempts often come out . . . special.
This morning I remembered my mom and all her holiday efforts. With stars in my eyes I asked my kids what they wanted for breakfast because today I was going to be the mom who makes breakfast. They eat cold cereal so often Gwen actually thinks cereal and breakfast are interchangeable words. I imagine my kids growing up and looking back on pancake memories with mixed emotions. Fondness for the rare treat it was (I only make pancakes on days off from school or for dinner when Heath is out of town) and that nameless emotion that comes with specialness.
It’s the thought that counts when it comes to my cooking.
I gave up on the hearts after a while. They looked like bloated amoebas and not much like hearts. In the interest of time I made circles. Lots and lots of circles that got more and more beautiful over time.
I was rocking the circles.
They got bigger and bigger each time but always a perfect circle. No ovals. No amoeba shapes. Perfectly huge circle pancakes. With splatters coming off one side as if it were a lovely balloon. I was proud of my balloon pancakes with the apples and cinnamon added for an extra dose of I love you for my kids.
My mom taught me how to cook and bake and somehow I just don’t care. I suffer from extreme perfectionism until it comes to creating anything edible in the kitchen. I don’t care. I want to care but I don’t. I burn boiled water. I forget how long the eggs have been boiling. I make amoeba pancakes. I screw up boxed dinner instructions. This is how I cook. I’m not good at it and I don’t care. I do make awesome scrambled eggs though. Which I didn’t make this morning. The pancakes were too much effort for this ditzy cook.
The kids were excited about the pancakes. They loved the pink milk. I’m still a hero in their eyes! They think I’m the best mom for acknowledging Valentine’s Day, a holiday I have always hated, by making them a “special” breakfast. Yay me! The memories of this morning are already taking shape in their little forgiving minds.
Last night I made dinner. It turned out so lovely. Everything was cooked to perfection. The homemade bread, the stuffed chicken, all of it was perfect. How did I do it? I basically focused long enough to heat everything up as instructed. Heath made the bread and told me to put it in the oven when the timer went off and bake it for 15 minutes. He also explained to me how to get focaccia bread off a peal onto a pizza stone to bake and then back onto the peal to remove from the oven. I did it! With no mishaps! Then I warmed up the stuffed chicken. All I had to do was get it to temperature. It was precooked. But I did it! Heath and I were tag teaming at church yesterday. I took the G’s to Sacrament Meeting while he stayed home with a sick Parker. Then I came home, tagged him, and he went to the rest of church so he could teach his lesson to the Deacons. While he was gone I cooked. I know it’s amazing.
Then breakfast this morning. Seriously! Parades should be thrown in my honor today. Happy Valentine’s Day everyone. What have you done to show your loved ones how much you care?