Pancakes and smiles
LOVE LUCY () - September 18, 2011 - 12:00am

Lately, it’s been a lot about pancakes and smiles. 

There really is a time for everything, and the past few weeks have been a bit more stressful than usual work-wise.

There are a few bumps here and there, sure, but they are few and far between. I have nothing to complain about.

I do not know if the pancakes made a difference, but the day I ate it, everything started to look up. It was the talisman I needed, one that came by way of butter and batter, a yellow pillow smiling up at me from a dark pan, a lucky charm that sort of just happened when I needed it most. 

Richard and Juliana, two of the many people I know who could actually shop daily if they had to in a haven like S&R, have taken to coming home with giant, shiny, resealable bags of instant pancake mix. Normally, it is devoured only when Juliana’s friends are home with us, but of late it is the adults that seem to desire it more. We eat it for breakfast, and beyond.

Like milk, I have never outgrown pancakes. They are always delicious. I like my pancakes simple, with cheese at most, nothing of the kind that is too sharp or salty or strong. I like Emmenthal or Gruyere plopped gently over them, they of the flavor so subtle, it is almost like they are not there even if I know they are, like a beautiful geisha’s ways. I like the hushed savor, and how wonderfully and simply perfect it all is. They require little more to top them off, just maple syrup or agave or honey or, if you are like me, a mix of the first two or all three together, all at once. That calls for a smile, definitely.

Laughter was generous and plentiful this week, too, courtesy of a bunch of toddlers and their funny, spontaneous thoughts. I enjoyed talking to a bunch of them during a little party when our Juliana turned 11. Dear heaven, where did the time go? I remember very clearly the day Richard and I walked out of St. Luke’s where I had given birth, a 6.1-lb. Juliana in my arms, swaddled in a yellow blanket with tiny flowers embroidered on it.   She would make a hundred little faces, entertaining us with each one. I was in awe. How is that possible? I remember thinking happily. That night, in bed, with just one small light on, I stared at her endlessly, falling in love with the tiny little thing that she was. Life was never the same again. I had become a mother and instantly my heart grew bigger than I thought it ever could. 

Between then and now her birthday parties were all about pink and flowers and princesses; her birthday cakes were always along those lines, too. But this year, she wanted none of those. She wanted nothing but Lazer Tag with her friends, pizza and chicken with milk and juice for food and drinks, and instead of a cake, a giant cookie or pizza with a birthday candle in the middle. I said yes to all, except for pizza as the cake. I wanted a real cake still — every birthday deserves a cake, even if it is just a slice, or a cupcake even, no matter how basic the design — and we settled on a rectangular number with Sensei, the Fruit Ninja, cheerfully adding character to it. It was the easiest party to organize — just that one game played dozens of times over, with foolproof food that kids and adults alike love. 

That night she slept hugging a giant ice cream pillow, looking very much like the child I know she still is, but the moment she wakes up and starts talking, she doesn’t seem too little anymore. My baby is growing up, so fast. She makes me laugh with her antics and this time around I ask her to read me a story from a book, after we say our prayers and before we go to sleep. I make her believe that I do that because I want to see how well she already reads but really, I just enjoy listening to her lilting little girl’s voice, and the giggles that escape when she is getting ahead of the story. 

I accede to her when she wants to read the same funny story over and over because I love it when she laughs and I am happy when I see her so happy, her cheeks round and pink, her tummy moving with laughter. Again I ask, even as I remember very well what it was like to be 11 years old, how do I now have an 11-year-old of my own? Where did the time go? Life really is a beautiful gift. Thank you, God. Thank you for making me a wife and mother.

There are other random things that came to be — a prayer that was answered practically overnight, something pink and gold I have wanted for so long, little kinks that were the source of distress once upon a very recent time finally settling into place, new hope, second chances, a mentor in my congressional work who has all the right solutions to all the problems that seem to crop up every now and then in the district. Little things like these are gentle reminders about how little we really can control, how wise God is that that is so, and how smiles do easily happen, especially when you are mindful of all the little blessings that abound each day.

There are people who never disburse checks or wear black on Mondays (they believe it will set the tone for the rest of the week), there are those who wear lucky charms to ward off negative energy and people with bad intentions. There are homes that are feng shui-ed in every corner and people who don’t sweep the floor at night. We say our novenas and pray on bended knee. We listen to music that makes us feel good and read books that afford us the chance to improve the quality of our dreams. We all have our rituals. I’m sure I have a pattern all my own that I may not be fully aware of. But right now, if I ever need or want one, fluffy pancakes make the cut. It can be as simple as that. After the sunshine that started this week after my first plateful, I guess I will never look at them quite the same way again.

AGAIN I EMMENTHAL FRUIT NINJA JULIANA LAZER TAG LITTLE RICHARD AND I RICHARD AND JULIANA ST. LUKE
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