I have been in pursuit of making the perfect oatmeal cookie. I also gave up chocolate for Lent. Oatmeal cookies are a temporary substitute for sweet sanity when Tucker has pulled every t-shirt from his drawer for the fourth time in one day, Nell has experimented with crayon on the kitchen chairs, and Noah has turned my living room into a shelter for forty-two stuffed animals.
Finding just the right balance of chewy, soft, sweet, whole oat goodness baked into a little cookie is my Lenten alms giving. Who says you can't find a little piece of Heaven in an oatmeal cookie?
Three batches - 9 cups of rolled oats, 4 1/2 cups of flour and 3 sticks of butter - later, I have created the perfect oatmeal cookie. Chewy, soft, sweet, whole oat goodness yielding a little piece of Heaven in my kitchen this afternoon. Amen!
If only perfecting oatmeal cookies was as easy as parenting.
In the middle of my perfect cookie pursuit was Noah's preschool parent-teacher conference. While academically, she's more than ready for Kindergarten, it seems a few social skills "need improvement."
"Noah's a natural leader," her preschool teacher tells me, "but right now, she's competing with three other girls for the role of chief ." She goes on to say that Noah is competitive, quick to point out when other students aren't pulling their weight, and absolutely believes that her way is the right way.
We talk at length about Noah's misgivings, and it almost feels like I'm chatting with a counselor about my own, personal short-comings. Confident, bold, and at times, less than empathetic. It was a very humbling twenty-minutes.
I have learned, err, I'm still learning throughout my life how to temper the misgivings I have now passed on to my oldest daughter. Noah's grandpa said it best the other day, "As we grow older, we do not grow wiser. We are simply slower in showing our ignorance." (He's good at putting thoughts together like that.) (By the way, Noah's a third generation capitalist.)
If only I knew how to tweak the recipe comprising my five year old. I have learned - usually the hard way - when and when not to take control of situations; how to show empathy to those I love and those I barely know; and how to positively encourage others to do their part.
I've given much thought on how to be a bold, confident woman and mother raising a bold, confident daughter. How do I teach her empathy and understanding and self-control, all the while expecting her to be at the top of her class? My recipe needs time. Patience, love, and much time.
My own parenting recipe will not be perfected in a matter of weeks.
My parenting recipe shall never be perfected. Salvation asks that we strive for perfection; not that we actually get there.
And if it takes a few oatmeal cookies to help simmer the bold, confident women in my household along the way, well then, at least I've got a perfect recipe.