Saturday, May 23, 2009

Just Me ...

As many of you know, for the last five and a half months (almost six, holy moly!) I have been in the midst of transitioning from single woman working in the corporate world to stay-at-home step-mom. As many of you also know, this transition has NOT been easy. I am by no means saying that staying home with my step-kids has been a drag, because it hasn't ... I'm just saying that it has been a huge moment of self discovery for me. I'm learning how to be a parent, which I think will come more naturally after awhile. I'm learning how to cook - and this is where I found myself getting stuck. When I was single, I had no problem cooking (by my definition) gourmet meals for myself - and grocery shopping happened only once every three to four weeks (with a stop in between to pick up some fresh produce). Now, I continually find myself grocery shopping at least once per week and I find myself frustrated with not being able to cook the great meals that I want to and not being as good as my mom or my sister or my neighbor. And yes, I am doing comparisons.

Here I am, 25 years old, and just now learning how to cook for six people. I have always dreamed of being as good as my mom - having fun snacks ready for the kiddos after school and great meals that have them talking about them for months afterward. I had to humble myself awhile ago and ask my sister for advice on what to do and how to come up with new ideas, as the spaghetti that I'm great at making has started to bore my children! She referred me to a blog written by The Pioneer Woman and thus far it has been a success! Last night I made her Chicken Scallopine and the kids just loved it! I thought the lemon flavor was a bit intense, and I will decrease the amount of lemon I use next time, also I am going to use portabello mushrooms instead of white mushrooms, as I want more flavor. BUT, with the exception of those little details - the meal was a success! My step daughter has been talking about it all morning long (and saying that she wants me to make it again tonight)!

Why the blog about my cooking? In my marriage, Monte and I have promised not to do any comparisons, as I already know that, in the kids' minds, there is no chance that I live up to the high esteem that they remember their mother to be (and there is no way that I want to change that image of her in their minds - I am more than okay with being second place!). Unfortunately, even though Monte doesn't compare me ... I compare me. I compare myself to Kelley (the kids' mother). I compare myself to my sister. I compare myself to my neighbor. I compare myself to my mom and my aunts and my friend's moms and to June Cleaver for sure! ;) It's never ending for me. Somehow I don't feel like I measure up when I look at all of these mothers who are GREAT with their children and who I know can cook like a pro! In the midst of cooking dinner last night, I was having a very intimate conversation with God about not feeling like I am enough. I can't cook like my sister. I don't have a lot of fun and unique recipes like my neighbor. I can't make jellies like Kelley could. I can't make every meal amazing like my mom can. I just can't do it! I believe that God helped me to come to the realization that I really can do it and that I am comparing myself to people who have been in the parenting "business" for years, when I myself have been there for five and a half months. I don't have to do things the same way that everybody around me does. It's okay if I give my kids junk food once in awhile, because I guarantee you that they are eating healthier food more often than the latter. It's okay if I have to resort to making grilled cheese sandwiches because both of our boys have sports that evening and there is no way that we're going to be able to sit down for a real family meal. It's okay that I don't always have a grand dinner prepared. It's great when I do. I have learned that, even something as simple as cooking for my family ... that is exactly the good work that my Father has begun in me. I believe the Bible to be 100% true, which means that "He who has begun a good work in you will be faithful to complete it."

I'm okay where I'm at. I'm stepping into motherhood not like a majority of mothers out there, I don't get to learn one-at-a-time. I get all four starting from the hardest place they have ever been at in their short lives. I've got a heart overflowing with love for my kiddos, and that's what really matters. The cooking will come with time, and I have to be satisfied that I am just continuing to learn and that it will be a process. For right now, I am the one who can love them unconditionally and I am the one who can offer everything that I have to them. Because, simply put, I am everything that I have - I can give them, plain and simply, just me. And that's okay!
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