My daughter is almost seven, and recently she has taken an interest in helping around the house, especially in the kitchen. I am thankful for her sweet little heart to help her momma, but honestly, things would go a lot more smoothly and would happen a lot more quickly if she would just watch me do it. Her small hands don’t work as quickly as mine, and she can’t read my mind, so I have to explain each step, wait for her to complete the step, clean up after each step, and help her refocus for the next step. Basically, I have to help her “help” me.
I sometimes wonder if it is worth it. It would be easier to make dinner myself. I would get done quicker. The mess would be smaller. It would probably even taste better. But, then I remember…
Without her helping me, how would she learn how to measure and stir? How would she know the difference between a simmer and a boil? When would she learn how to make a roux? Who would teach her how to make my Nan’s lasagna?
That’s because this time together isn’t just about her being able to help, or about cooking. These moments in the kitchen, passing down tips and tricks, making messes, laughing, and telling her stories of the women whose recipes permeate my childhood and still fill our kitchen, are also informing who she is and where she came from. I hope she remembers the recipes, but I hope she remembers more about the women who have shaped her. How they were strong and smart and shared their love for others through a hot meal or a sweet treat on a special occasion. How they kept us all fed.
So the next time my girl asks if she can help, I will be quicker to say yes. Even though it will take longer and be more difficult; even though it will be messier and imperfect in many ways. Because the mess is worth the memories.