Fueled by my relationship with my father, I had assumed, for the years I spent not pregnant and without children, that if in fact I was ever fool enough to throw myself into this madness, I would come out on the other side the mother of boys. To be fair, those spanky little navy blazers at Brooks Brothers figured into my future vision, perhaps my son would be born in that. He was not, in fact he came out naked, two times and in drag.
At some point I realized, once I took control of my pink phobic mind, that really, some of my very best childhood memories were directly related to my being a girl. Days spent at the ballpark with my dad included, as were the hours I amassed sitting at the counter in Mimi's kitchen. Every September we baked apple pies, for Valentine's Day a heart shaped cake and at Christmas, peppermint cookies, sugar cookies and whiskey balls. Of course I could have been a boy, and there were days that my father might have thought that perhaps I was, but there was something to my girl days in the kitchen, and in a quick moment I realized that I could relive those wonderful memories with my girls. And this realization made the tiny blue blazers a thing of the past, red aprons were in my future, I was certain.
The first Christmas rolled around, at three months they were very little help, which I found truly frustrating. Mary slept through most of the Bing Crosby serenaded day while Kate fussed and insisted on sitting in the kitchen. When I then spilled a good amount of powdered sugar directly onto her small head, an indoor winter wonderland covering her small and once happy infant body, she voiced her displeasure accordingly.
Four years later she is content to bathe in powdered sugar, or chocolate, or both. There are few pleasures greater than spilling an entire cup of flour on her sister, who then returns the favor, but with melted butter. Cocoa works especially well for airborne mess, and cookie decorating sugars are best used to enhance the somewhat dull brown and black hair that covers Eleanor Roosevelt. And when we have at last exhausted all our baking efforts, the girls revel in licking all things containing raw eggs which, as we know, was not a problem at all when I was a child. Before raw eggs were exposed as the horrifically dangerous orbs that we now know them to be, I, like many, was encouraged to lick away all remaining raw eggs from toxic plastic bowls. Not so in 2009, uncooked eggs pose every possible danger to children and I scream in horror when their batter covered fingers touch their faces. Once recovered, we all walk down the street to eat raw tuna on rice for dinner.
Valentine's Day is just over a month away. Optimistically I will have the heart shaped cake pan greased and ready, the very same one I used so long ago in that red kitchen with the old gal who had endless patience for what must have been a challenging bake off. My memories, thankfully, do not recount her putting her head on the counter and begging for sanity while loudly pleading for an armed fairy cleaning woman at her beck and call; perhaps my girls can block that out as well.