I made the world’s worst apple pie last night. No joke. It was The. Worst. I was simultaneously making all the rest of dinner, literally working a spoon in every pot, and obviously must have forgotten to put some key ingredients into that thar awful excuse for a pie.
Oh, it looked good. It looked downright gorgeous, and smelled pretty dag-um amazing, too. But once we bit into it, the illusion was shattered, let me tell you. Dry. Tasteless. The crust was not quite cooked through. It was awful.
At that first bite, when the truth became painfully clear, I apologized to my beloved family, “I am so sorry guys! This is just awful!”
My Captain rose to the occasion and assured me it was fine. I expect that from him, after all this time. Full of grace and patience with me, and my failed effort at dessert, he never ceases to come through for me.
But what surprised me, was my kids. My teenage kids, who were also swift to assure me it was delicious, and were quick to tell me to stop being so hard on myself about it.
Oh, don’t get me wrong, I’m not basing my self-worth on one pie, for Pete’s sake! But I was disappointed that my dessert making effort was not gratified by the oohs and ahhs a truly successful meal ending can produce.
“It’s fine, Mom. Stop making a big deal about it. It’s good!” Varmint, her mouth half full, suddenly chimed in.
This was huge.
You have to understand, that both of my kids are at the age, the painful, arduous, challenging age, of high school. For those of you who have not yet enjoyed this stage of parenthood, imagine someone pulling your heart, ever so slowly, out of your body, so that it can go independently lead a fulfilling life of its own. Honestly, that is what it feels like. I’m not exaggerating. Those of you who have been through it, back me up here.
I suppose this stage would have been easier for me if I didn’t adore my children with every freakin’ fiber of my being. Maybe I could have handled it with more grace and poise if I didn’t love them as deeply as I do. But this whole separating-identities-to-go-on-to-live-normal-healthy-successful lives thing is a bitch. And I have struggled with this stage way more than any other previous child-rearing stage.
Everything we have worked for, when parenting Critter and Varmint, has led to this very important part of their development. This is what we wanted for them! To be strong, good, productive people. Adults we could be proud of. Adults we like so much, we would want to hang out with them.
And that’s the kicker. This stage is also the stage where they absolutely do NOT want anything to do with us, where privacy is what they most require, and where their outward disdain of us is a sure sign that they are further solidifying their own identities. Which is good!
But MAN, can it hurt to stand by and watch, helplessly, as they push themselves further and further out of the nest. Fledging is good. We want fledging. It is, after all, the POINT of all of this nurturing. For the chicks to get to where they learn to fly On. Their. Own. Rarely do we consider the vacuum left in the nest when they go!
So when my Varmint, a truly beautiful young woman in the full throes of fledging, and all that that implies, makes an effort to extend grace to her Mama, even about a stupid pie, it is a big deal. At least, it is to Mama.
Later, when My Captain and I were getting ready for bed, I mentioned again how kind they were to be so gracious about my pathetic pie. It really had been tasteless and dry and gummy…so bland it was hardly worth the effort of eating. I wondered aloud what had made Varmint be so charitable with me about it.
He just shrugged, matter-of-factly, “She tasted the love you put in it.”
Then he kissed me, rolled over, and turned out the light.
If you need me, my over-flowing heart and I will be blinking back tears over on my side of the bed.
(That was the best, worst pie, EVER.)