I often find that I'm ready for the "thing" to be here or the event to be done. So much so that I miss out on the beauty around me as I'm arriving at said "thing" or event. I became keenly aware of this as I was considering one of the activities my oldest daughter loves to do most with me--bake. She's 4 years old. Baking with her is an adventure. But it's also really fun and joyful. She loves every step of the process--the pouring, the mixing, watching the oven, the decorating. I used to partially dread baking with her, because all I could see was the mess we were going to make and the time it would take to clean up. I'd pick recipes that would take the least amount of dishes and work so that we could have a baking experience without the fuss--we could reach our destination (a finished baked good), but the journey wasn't all that fun (a stressed out and highly controlling mom who was rushing every dish to the sink while running after daughter with a sponge).
Recently, I consciously changed my mindset about baking with my daughter. We embarked on making cutout sugar cookies--which are both time intensive, and require some patience in the mess making department. I let my daughter do the pouring of ingredients, the mixing (we got some on the counter, I held my breath and counted to ten). She helped roll out the dough, which she loved. We used cookie cutters to shape the cookies. I tried to show her how to maximize the amount of dough you could use by starting at the edges, but there was some allure to putting that cookie cutter in the very middle of the dough. I let her do it. What did it matter? We could just roll the dough out again. No big deal and she was having a blast.
Once they were baked, my 2-year old daughter got in on the fun of decorating. I iced the cookies while the girls decorated with sprinkles. And when I say "decorated," I mean they spread some cookies with sprinkles and ate the leftovers by the handfuls. (Mom of the year, I know.) But when we were done, we had boxes full of cookies, and my daughters were so proud of what they'd accomplished. While I had noticed the mess we were making (journeys aren't always comfortable, in fact growth is largely uncomfortable) I consciously decided not to worry about the mess because I was on the cookie making journey with my girls.
I'm proud to report, my kitchen recovered. All dishes were washed and stray sprinkles were collected. I even more proud to report that I truly got to enjoy the time with my daughter being in the moment and seeing her joy and experiencing a bit of joy of my own.
I'm trying to expand this idea to other parts of my life--embracing the process of getting to the result. It's hard sometimes, but so worth it. While the saying "It's a journey not a destination" is a bit cliche, it is really powerful for me. And a good reminder to stay in the moment and enjoy the beauty around me while enjoying the small moments. I have this saying posted on my computer where I see it every day (sometimes all day long), and it grounds me in the present.
So what's next? I hope to continue making messy cookies with my daughters, especially during the holiday season, and to embark on many other messy projects in the new year that will require me to get a little uncomfortable on my journey.