Case in point: cooking.
I love to cook. Truly love it. I love to chop things. I love to mix things. I love to smell the things that I'm cooking, knowing that there is a semi-magical transformation happening as the yeast and the water and the pinch of sugar combine with flour to make pizza dough. Or how something as simple as smelling onions and garlic and butter can make everything seem alright, no matter how bad a day you've had. Love it.
There's a funny thing happening in my kitchen these days, though. There's a four-year-old who wants to help. Always. She gets seriously peeved if there's nothing she can do to help, and sometimes there isn't. Sometimes everything has to happen at the stove, where it's too hot, or at the cutting board, where things are too sharp. She is not a happy camper when Mama says, "I'm sorry, there's nothing for you to help with right now."
I love that she wants to help. I love that she's interested. I really do. Really. I love it. And I know that children helping in the kitchen is good for them in lots of ways. They are exposed to fractions. They learn to follow written instructions. They see what goes into the preparation of their food, and kids really do eat more varied things if they're involved in the prep work. I've seen it. And I want S to want to cook. I love the idea of having time with her in the kitchen...when she's older.
But sometimes, Mama needs the free therapy that comes with kneading dough on her own. Sometimes Mama just needs to be alone in the kitchen. Sometimes this Mama just doesn't have the energy or desire to clean up the extra mess that comes with a four-year-old helping out when there are large quantities of flour involved. And then I feel like a bit of a rotten mother because I'll shoo my little mini-me away.
And then she goes to her play kitchen, makes something herself, sets her little play table properly, invites me to tea, and I know that everything is going to be alright.
Life can be tough, but it is so good. Especially when your preschooler pours you tea and offers you a wooden cupcake.