chicken fingers

This was a celebration for me. A marker of growth, of change for the good.

A few years ago, I let myself see an ugliness inside of me. It was something I tried to hide from for years before that. I was too ashamed to admit, even to myself.

I have resisted writing about my ugliness because it comes out in context with one of my sons and it is my ugliness, not his. I would never want for him to someday read my writing and do what we as children always do, internalize our parent’s brokenness as our own defectiveness.

But these chicken fingers were just too much to pass up. So here I go.

chicken fingers

I have had trouble accepting my middle son for exactly who he is. Don’t get me wrong, simultaneously I recognize and love what he brings to the table and how he gets me outside myself.

But he’s different than me. And when it comes to being different, I like to think I am the right way and anyone else is the wrong way. Apparently that includes my children. Great.

He likes to make messes and struggles to clean them up. He’s well liked and sweet and tender and makes some pretty great choices on who to be friends with, but he’s also just a little bit…..awkward. Quirky. Unique.

And he doesn’t like words. And words are how I function. They’re my strong suit.

But that’s not how he wants to be loved. He is intuitive. He senses what is going on behind the scenes, in my heart. So that means I have to actually work through my issues instead of just covering them up by using the right words.

Fantastic.

chicken fingers-3

What kind of mother has trouble accepting her child?

I will tell you.

The kind of mother who has trouble accepting herself. Fully. Un-conditionally. Wholeheartedly.

Because what Brene Brown says is true. We can only accept others to the degree we accept ourselves.

Finally, eventually, I became safe enough to myself to go below the surface and deal with the issues that lie beneath. The process has been slow and scary.

But bit by bit, I work my way through. I have in no way arrived, but I am not where I used to be. And these chicken fingers told me so.

We call this Abby’s chicken. There are eggs and flour and dredging involved which means….messes. And my Colby loves to embrace a good mess.

chicken fingers-5

Which is exactly why I avoid cooking with him. Because undoubtedly my perfectionism flares and I end up sending messages either spoken or unspoken that he is wrong for being the way that he is. Lovely.

But this time, I delighted in Colby and his chicken fingers. I laughed and celebrated his jois de vive. I let go and embraced the process. And of course, I had to take pictures, which he loved.

Growth shows in the little things. Like making chicken with my son. And enjoying it. And more importantly, enjoying him.

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mac&cheese wednesdays

What is her top strength? I have a hard time choosing. Administration, organization, execution of a well-thought out plan, attention to detail, to name a few. But the one I think of on a weekly basis is creating traditions.

I am not particularly strong in this area, but I do appreciate the value they bring. Traditions give me pegs to hold on to through my life. This world is constantly shifting and sometimes that can be crazy-making.

Traditions are one of the things I hold to for comfort and security when the ground might be coming out from underneath me.

And every week, I think of these things because there is a tradition I am upholding. I think of it as my secret time with her. During this period when time and space and a few other things don’t allow for much.

She fills my mind as I follow the recipe with only five ingredients. Pure, unadulterated macaroni and cheese. Not messed up with all the funny business other recipes add to make things fancy. My kids love it. The one meal I get NO complaints over.

And lately on mac & cheese Wednesdays, I think of another tradition she created. I confess I did not embrace that one warmly. In fact, I think it could be argued that I fought it every step of the way. Independence. 

But now, since my healing, my putting-back-together, I appreciate the strength I had to ask for help, to take care of myself, to separate from what others might think and be me.

They all harken back to that tradition of independence. Blazing a trail. Being my own person. And I am deeply grateful. I am forever changed because of this tradition.

And all of that simmers inside of me and comforts me as my home fills with the familiar aroma. I open the oven door and hear the sound the bubbles make when the dish is cooked to just the right temperature and my heart expands. A meal can be so much more than food.

I will always have one of the best parts of her with me in the traditions.

What is your favorite meal and what does it connect you to?