Thursday, September 5, 2013

My Mom Blog - September 2013

Fresh Cookies

The first day of school is so much fun. The moms’ excitement, the kids’ trepidation, the heavy sigh we breathe once we close the door on the relative quiet in our homes. The first day of school really is an experience not repeated later in life. Except for the sainted teachers who greet our kids at their classroom door, most of our jobs are year round and not exactly ripe with brand new starts. 

I have to admit, I cried every fall when I sent my kids off. It was important to me – my kids were growing up, facing new challenges, learning, growing. Yes, they did all those things every day, but milestones like the first day of school deserve special attention. This year, my youngest is celebrating a significant milestone of her own – getting married! I can only imagine the crying jag I’ll take on that occasion!

Kids grow up so fast it’s nice to mark milestones with traditions that make those passing memories extra special. After all, what we carry with us are the memories - so let’s make sure it’s happy baggage.

Our family’s back to school tradition was fresh baked chocolate chip cookies. Our regular readers may well remember hearing me talk about the cookies - I think I have written about those chocolate chip cookies in the magazine every year for the past 22 years. I only hope my kids remember that tradition as fondly as I obviously do!

Every year, I strategized to be sure the cookie dough was ready and waiting when I picked the kids up at school. By the time they unpacked and washed up, I could have the cookies out of the oven and on to their waiting plates.

By the time my son hit middle school, I found myself making three batches. Between him and dad every single morsel was consumed. My husband Doug looked forward to that first day of school just like the kids – chocolate chip is his favorite!

It was great fun to slide the hot cookies off the baking sheets. I’m thinking it’s not a coincidence the kids often gave me new cookie sheets for Christmas. I choose to believe they bought me cookware because they knew I loved a good cooking tool and not because they wanted to ensure a regular supply of cookies.

They were right about me loving to cook, but it wasn’t the cooking I found rewarding. Watching the kids snatch up the hot cookies and pop them in their mouths was worth all the effort. I made sure they had plenty of cold milk in front of them – patiently waiting for a cookie to cool is not part of typical childhood.

As much as the kids looked forward to the cookies, I looked forward to our time together. I loved hearing the new school stories. They freely shared updates on all their friends and talked about what they loved the most about the new year. I remember how wonderful the house smelled all afternoon and well into dinner. A lingering celebration.

To be sure Doug got his share of the treat, I always set aside a half dozen or so cookies on a plate
hidden above the refrigerator. Then after the kids were finished with dinner and working on homework in the other room, I would pull the plate down so my husband could enjoy his fresh cookies with some vanilla ice cream before bed.

As much as we all loved those homemade chocolate chip cookies, I often wonder why I seldom made them at other times during the year. I guess I was preserving the cookies’ special back-to-school status. We had other treats to be sure. There was homemade angel food cake every so often and many spice cakes (Doug’s absolute favorite). I loved making spaghetti and lasagna, and the kids loved eating them, but chocolate chip cookies retained their day of honor. That one special day when together we launched a new school year full of promise, anticipation and the joy of learning new things.

As you consider your own special back-to-school traditions, I’d recommend the simply elegant chocolate chip cookie. As we reach that first day of school 2013, I toast all of you (and especially my grown children) with a glass of cold milk as I wait for the hot cookies fresh from the oven.