Dearest Michael,
I learned so much about mothering from our friend and pretend family, Karen. Karen has been our neighbor right across the street for both my entire marriage and your entire life and along with her husband, Bob and their kids I can say we grew up together.
I have always thought about parenting and mothering as two different roles. I know I am a good parent. I learned this from my mother, she kept me safe, provided shelter, food, and set clear, albeit strict, boundaries and rules. She made sure I knew that my grades were talked about and education was of the utmost importance. She provided a religious education and allowed me to go to Israel when I was twelve with your Great Grandparents, Isabelle and Herbie for almost a month giving me permission to miss school because of how strongly she felt about seeing the world. She taught me how to be self sufficient by getting myself ready for school and making my own breakfast. It was Ann who made sure of all of this, she took on the role despite how young she was getting married. Until Grandpa Dave decided to leave her when I was about fourteen, the parenting piece of Grandma Ann was pretty consistent.
Parenting is about structure and boundaries. There isn’t a lot of fluff to it and even though there is love in the background, parenting is about trying to instill in your children a core compass, at least this is my opinion. Mothering is different. Mothering is the warm and fuzzy, the mushiness, the love and the birthday parties. Mothering is baking brownies for bake sales and showing up in the classroom to help with kindergarten art projects. Mothering is the hugging and the tenderness that shows up because there is so much love in your heart for the little human being that stands before you. I didn’t really learn this from Ann because she had kind of checked out by the time I realized this was something I should expect from her. Once Dad and I moved in across the street from Karen and Bob and we became friends, I started to witness the difference. Karen was a MOM. She would wake up in the morning and make eggs and bacon or French toast for her kids before school. This used to make me laugh as I thought she was spoiling them and not teaching them how to be self sufficient. She would say that her kids weren’t going to be there forever and she really enjoyed making them breakfast before school. She really enjoyed planning vacations or going on family trips just for a quick weekend. They had a dog, a chaotic noisy house that was welcoming and happy and filled with love. They had the house that you wanted to go to for a good dose of love and security. This was mothering and I wanted that. For you. Mothering when you don’t have this as a core example in your life growing up is not intuitive. It has to be learned and Karen taught me this through her example. There were times when I judged it thinking it was not teaching her kids survival in the world skills, but the thing that is great about learning something that is not innately part of you is that you can take what you need and leave the rest.
Making breakfast in the morning for you is one of the parts of Karen that I hungrily took from her, I love making you breakfast because in my family history with Grandma Kitsie especially, food was love. The simple act of making breakfast for you, and I try to still do it now that you are home from college, is a way for me to be Mothering. I know that what Karen always said about kids not being around forever in our homes is true and I have missed this morning routine since you have been away at school.
Breakfast for you has been way more than a box of cereal and a glass of OJ. It has been Sweet Bread Stuffed French Toast and Cheese Omelets. And it has been Chocolate Chip Pancakes, not from a mix, but from scratch because this is where I am a purist. When Grandma Kitsie died, I had the wisdom to take her recipes and an old school Betty Crocker Cookbook that has every basic recipe you could imagine. This is how we arrived at the pancake recipe. I know it by heart now, and even though I know you know it by heart too, I wanted to write it down so you would always have a copy when you get to have the privilege of making breakfast for your children. I have also included a photo of the bowl, the pan, the chip dish and the spatula that made this recipe super easy to whip together- faster than opening a box of pre-made for sure.
This recipe will make 6 or 7 full size pancakes. I always made the full batch and then put the rest in the fridge to use the next day or the day after. It can last a few days in the fridge. I think dad put it in a cup that pours when he made this at his house, great idea, leave it to dad.
As you know by now I try to use organic for everything so I am not going to write this, just know it as you read.
1 egg
1 c. all purpose flour
1 c. buttermilk (if you don’t have buttermilk, you can use whole milk, but you will need to use 3 t. baking powder and leave out the baking soda- but have the buttermilk, it is way better)
2 T. melted butter (melt the butter in the pan you will cook the pancakes in. when you are ready to make them, don’t add more butter, it cooks them better with less butter in the pan).
1 T. sugar
1 t. baking powder
½ t baking soda ( I have forgotten this step numerous times and it hasn’t seemed to make any difference).
Chocolate chips (a handful put in a small bowl to sprinkle in as you cook them, don’t add to the batter, they come out better when you add as you go. You could use fruit like blueberries or strawberries or bananas too, but you never wanted that- always chocolate chips.)
Mix everything until smooth- add butter last and mix well.
Spoon batter into a really hot pan. We have always made one at a time. It has always come out better and a perfect size, but this is not definitive.
Add a sprinkle of chocolate chips. Be patient. Don’t flip and check too much. Let the first side cook. You will get a feel for it after a few times.
Flip when ready.
When cooked to your liking, place on a dish and add a nice heap of real butter so it can melt while you cook the next one.
You always ate three. So repeat until you get to the amount you want.
You never used syrup because the chips were sweet enough.

Hopefully all of these will land in your kitchen and when you pull them out to make them you will think about your young life with Dad and Me and it will make you smile.

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self proclaimed lover of all things beauty, business + lifestyle, I write because it feels good.