I didn’t have energy to do the dishes or put the kitchen floor hazards away so I instead shoved, scooted and piled. It was late and I was making room for more making. Specifically, making something for Margot to share with her class on her birthday circle day.
Easy and fun I chanted as I sifted through our pantry. I recalled a conversation I had with my friend earlier in the day. She said, “I have to drive to Lolo to pick up my meat because I didn’t have time to butcher my own deer this year. I am giving myself permission to not be a total badass all the time.”
I found a crispy half-bag of marshmallows and decided there is no way those things ever expire. I turned to google, readying to type something like marshmallow dessert that isn’t hideous but then my eye caught the 13 pound bag of gourmet popcorn I had just received in the mail. My eyes twinkled and I squeaked, “Popcorn balls!” even though I’d never made them before.
The birthday circle at her school is a big deal. At least I anticipated it would be. Margot would lay on a giant piece of paper and the room would sing the sweetest song about growing while her teacher traced the outline of body, the one that used to inhabit mine. Then, each classmate would make eye-contact with my girl and tell her what they appreciate about her while her teacher recorded every word inside her outline. It feels big — in the achy, awesome acknowledgement that Margot’s excitement is her own: she has her relationships, her space, her celebration; and I have mine, as her mama, in the space she proudly loves and shares with me.
I thought about her first day of preschool.
It was 10pm and Margot was amazingly still awake, happily humming to her babies in our bed. Andy cruised between housey chores and commented on how he should really be in bed. I had made Very Important Notes on an envelope from recycling, informing him of some Very Important Information. My writing arched around and through Ruby’s drawings, most of it illegible to my husband so he continually asked for interpretation as I hummed about the internet in search of Popcorn Balls That Incorporate Things In My Kitchen Like Stale Marshmallows.
The birthday circle was even better than I anticipated. I could hardly contain my heart under my ribs as a room of tiny souls who adore my girl proclaimed their love for her hugs, her playground skills, her smile. Margot’s teacher chose different colored markers to document each child’s words. I dutifully memorized the event, feeling suspended in blissful parenthood: Margot’s long body leaned into mine, not a baby in the least. Ruby sank into Andy’s hard-working Carhartt lap. I smelled Margot’s hair, felt her react to her friends’ words. I resisted hugging her so tight. I swear I could have stuffed her back into my body.
I found a few recipes and decided to just go for it. Butter, sugar, marshmallows, corn syrup melty goo. What could go wrong? I added ingredients with giddy abandon. Easy and fun. But once the goo hit the popcorn and it all just shimmered and sogged into a pile. Nothing sticky, nothing ballesque. Damnit. But holy hell was that failed ball tasty. A salty sweet molten pile of decadence and no children to want a bite. Andy and I finally had that elusive moment to talk about our days over the last sips of our wine as we spooned spooned sugary, wilty popcorn into our faces.
We started over, opting for peanut butter popcorn balls and following a recipe. Pushing the gooey popcorn aside for the chickens (one more bite), “the chickens will go bananas over this,” we said (one more bite).
Margot was very asleep then. Andy’s and I laughed and sculpted treats for our oldest daughter and her classmates. We kissed, said we couldn’t believe she was almost four. Piled the peanut butter popcorn balls in a bowl, walked away from the mess and fell into bed. Our home. Our growing kids. Our sticky sweet life.
ps randomly selected $50 Lava Lake winner: Lexie said…I think I changed my mind: the wool bracelet is my new favorite Lava Lake item. And I liked them on Facebook. I am crossing my fingers!
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all photos taken with a Canon Digital SLR from Vanns.com