Every Tuesday and Thursday I bake muffins. I use the word “muffins” loosely as they don’t really have much sugar or oil and don’t taste like much. Honestly, they’re more comparable to a cracker than to a muffin. What started as a creative way to sneak fruits, like bananas, into my son’s diet, has now evolved into a muffin cloak for acorn squash, chia seeds, flax meal – pretty much anything that is nutritious and can hold a shape that roughly resembles a muffin.
Tuesdays and Thursdays our son goes to Taekwondo and requires a snack sufficient to tide him over until dinner. The muffins I bake meet this requirement. Once I discovered that he hardly has time to chew as he shoves them into his face as I drive, I saw an opportunity for sneaky nutrition. Since then, I’ve made muffin making a priority.
The recipe is one I made myself through trial and error. Although the errors seemed to go unnoticed as I’m not so sure my son tastes them as he eats. I’ve never written it down as it changes with whatever fresh fruit or vegetables I have on hand. I take some measure of pride in meeting a need for both my son’s nutrition and hunger.
The fact that I just wrote three paragraphs about fucking muffins is a cry for help within itself. Never did I think my life would be degraded to the point of seeing muffin making as a source of pride. Nor did I ever think that other mothers would look upon my baking skills with jealousy as they shame themselves for buying delicious, store-bought muffins. Never mind that my son doesn’t know what a good muffin tastes like, or the fact that his diet is so unbalanced that I must hide vegetables for him to eat them. But I digress. Muffins are merely a symptom of the slow decay of identity that creeps its way into the heart, mind, and soul, of mothers everywhere.
The world of motherhood is full of mirrors and shadows. However together a mother may appear, there is likely a trail of broken dreams trailing behind her. Some lucky mothers figure it out early on and thrive in their newfound roles of mother, teacher, cook, maid, nurse, and of course muffin makers. Others, like myself, not so much. But whether your experience is good or bad, there is the common denominator of the loss of identity that comes with motherhood.
There is a paradox that holds true, at least for me, in my parenting adventure. I love my children more than anything. My best moments in life are when we are all together. However, almost simultaneously, these moments can drag on for an eternity causing reality to splinter into segments of obligation and duty before happiness. Then as unwelcomed as this isolation, a wave of guilt for not relishing every second of the short existence that is childhood crushes any semblance of acceptance.
This morning began with the familiar piles of laundry to be put away and breakfast to made. My two darling children immediately started pushing boundaries after the two-year-old scaled the pantry and discovered the Halloween candy. I was trying to make eggs as my five-year-old had joined forces with the two-year-old and now both were in the kitchen haggling with me about when and how much candy they can eat.
My husband joined us, and the morning chaos continued, right up until we dropped both kids off at Montessori. Within minutes after drop-off, my husband and I were lost in conversation and on our way to coffee. The stresses of the morning melted away.
An hour later, my husband was hard at work, while I tackled the endless piles of laundry while listening to a book on tape – because who has time to read nowadays? The doorbell rang and it was my friend, another mother from taekwondo, and we sat and drank coffee together. We talked about motherhood and life and whatever else drifted into our minds. We were just two mothers sitting talking about unmotherly things. It was glorious.
The morning progressed and I said goodbye to my fellow mother as she had to get to work. On the way out, the conversation had shifted to a coffee club for mothers that is occurring next week. In very accurate context, my friend remarked that the motto could be “Silently Screaming in Your Life? Come Have Coffee!” We laughed and then carried on with our day.
Now, hours later I sit here reflecting on the power that sharing a cup of coffee with someone can have. First, the coffee with my husband and then with my friend. During these moments, I was just me. Not a mother, teacher, cook, maid, nurse, or even a muffin maker. This realization was exactly what I needed to remind me that whatever my woes, I need not face them alone. That even when the problems are existential, they can be lessened through connection with others.
Today, I will not let any one facet of my existence define me. I will not sit idle and silently scream in my life but rather find another person to connect with. Coffee may not solve all my problems, but the coffee talk sure helps.
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