Friday, September 4, 2009

Soul Food

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My son Michael wants to be a chef when he grows up. Last year it was been pretty obsessive actually. He talked about it and planned for it. He assigned each of the other kids various functions around his imagined restaurant. He picked out certain dishes that he would like to serve. He was pretty stuck on the idea of blueberry pie for a while until we actually made blueberry pie and he practically spit it out. That won't be featured on his menu. This year I have noticed that maybe he hasn't been too enthusiastic about being a chef. Sure, he still wears his Chef Michael apron and tries to help me around the kitchen but I can tell that maybe he has reconsidered a bit. This week, my suspicions have been confirmed. When I asked him if he still wants to be a chef when he grows up he said yes, but that he'd also like to be a firefighter.

Typically, I would feel sort of sad that he doesn't want to be chef anymore. Like the time when instead of saying "helicocker," Ben corrected himself and pointed out a perfectly pronounced "helicopter." But this week I am happy because I have had time to sit down and talk with Michael about the things that are on his mind. School started this week which means half of my children are out of the house for the majority of the day. I have spent most of the week pushing little ones on the swings, playing outside in the sandbox, and talking about the little things that come into their little minds. And even though my life has gloriously slowed down, but body has slowed as well. I am moving a little slower these days. Getting out of a chair takes a little bit more effort.

On Thursday, we performed our usual little-kid activities. We went on a walk in the morning and to the playground in the midday for lunch. I packed food and water for the little ones but I didn't think to pack anything for myself. The kids played and ate happily and we left just in time to make one stop at home to use the restroom, drop off our picnic gear, grab the car keys and run to grab the big kids from school. We walked in the door and each of us went our separate ways in order to get back out the door in time. I didn't notice what anyone was doing until we were walking out the door and Michael handed me a plate with a ham sandwich on it. He said, "Mommy, I made you a sandwich because I saw that you didn't have a chance to eat. I put extra mayonnaise on it because I know you like it."

And for about the millionth time this week, the waterworks started. I sat with my beautiful ham sandwich and cried for all the incredible blessings of my life. I cried with gratitude for my precious son. I cried for how fortunate I am to be surrounded by all of these beautiful children and how individual and unique each of them are - and for the individual lessons that they have taught me. I cried because I was starving and I really, really like mayonnaise.

So, I don't know if Michael will ever become a chef. It doesn't really matter. What does matter is the fact that I am able to sit and talk with him about all of the options that are available to him throughout the rest of his life. It matters that I be present to him, and have a willing and able ear to lend him during the major turning points of his life. But what I do know is that if indeed he does become a chef, nothing he will prepare will ever be as lovely as that sandwich.

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