Wednesday, July 18, 2007

Berenstain Bears and Banana Bread

Mommy guilt is a ridiculously strong force. It's not that I don't think I'm a good mother. I know I am. But I get down on myself pretty easily, for one reason or another.

I love spending time with my little girl. But (and here's where some guilt comes in) I'm not a big fan of getting down on the floor and playing. Of course, if she pulls out her blocks or Mr. Potato Heads and asks me to play, I'll oblige. It's just not my favorite thing to do. I don't love that about myself, but it's true. On the other hand, I'll sit and talk with her endlessly; answer a thousand questions about the cars around us on the road without losing a bit of patience. And then there's our mutual favorite activity to do together...READ! We'll sit and read, literally, for hours each day. I love that time, snuggled together under a blanket on the couch, going through stack after stack of books.

Maya's favorites right now are the Berenstain Bears. Mark and I both loved the series when we were growing up, so we pounced on a great eBay auction shortly after Maya was born and we now own at least forty of them. I pictured the Bears being more a staple of her preschool/early elementary years, but after pulling a few books out one day, the girl is hooked on Mama, Papa, Sister and Brother. She loves experiencing all of their adventures, and I love the gentle lessons and sweet homeyness of Bear Country. I've chosen to roll my eyes at the criticism of some who shun the books based on Papa Bear's doofy ways. Maya has enough books featuring terrific fathers, and has an amazingly involved, intelligent and decidedly un-doofy father herself, that I have no fears that one character is going to warp her view of the entire male gender. The Bears have a way of mixing life lessons and new experiences with a focus on love and helping others, and I love sharing those things with my daughter.

Another activity that I never tire of is spending time with her in the kitchen, baking cookies and cakes and other things that strike our fancy. And for my pregnant self - quite a bit is striking my fancy these days! Maya has developed a particular affinity for banana bread. A few months ago I had baked a couple of batches that we'd enjoy together in the morning, during our cuddle time on the couch after waking up. Last week, out of the blue, she asked me again, "Mama, you make banana bread for me please?" Well, who's gonna say 'no' to that? Not me! I promised her that there would be some waiting for her in the morning, and sure enough - the first sleepy words out of her mouth the next day were, "You make banana bread, Mama?" And had you seen the joyous smile on her face when I told her that yes, there was indeed a fresh loaf waiting for us in the kitchen...well, you would have understood why we went through that batch, as well as another one that I mixed up just a few days ago! To see Maya's happy munching and hear her exclaim with wonder, "Mama made banana bread...for ME!", well it just makes my heart sing!

I think when I really examine my feelings of guilt over what I don't do "enough" of as a Mama, it comes down to my fears that Maya will grow up lacking sweet experiences of toddlerhood and fond memories of this mother/daughter time that is bound to pass way too quickly. I don't do very well with the run-around-the-table game these days, and I can't maneuver around the park as easily right now without needing someone else along to help with the climbing and sliding. But those worries ease when I look at the beautiful things I look forward to doing every day with my girl. We have snuggling, we have our long talks, we have our beloved shopping trips and neighborhood walks. We have the Berenstain Bears and banana bread. And I hope, and trust, that those are all things that will fill her memory bank with sweetness and joy for as long as these two-year-old memories can last.


  1. I have to say that you spoke to me here. I struggle often with worry over the things I don't do well with Makenna also. I really appreciate your thoughts on this. It is true that the things we do do...we do well. :)
    You are a super wonderful mama!

  2. Laura, I love this post. I wish you would write more (and more and more!). You know, in between loaves of banana bread and all.

    I struggle with Mommy guilt all the time, too, so I know where you are coming from. But I wanted to say, too, that I don't think there's anything at all wrong with saying, "It's not fun to me to play on the floor with Maya." Sometimes, it's just not fun. But in any relationship in life, we do things that aren't really fun to us, but we do it because we love the other person. For example, action movies are not my favorite, yet I will sit through them with Kyle because he enjoys my company and it lets me into his world a little. I don't think I am a bad wife because I don't enjoy everything he enjoys - and you aren't a bad mom because you don't enjoy playing on the floor. (Is this making sense? I should have called it a night a long time ago!)

    Anyway, there is no doubt in my mind that Maya knows she is utterly, completely, unshakeably loved! But please do write more. Seriously. :)

  3. You are such a sweet, thoughtful momma. Maya is lucky to have you!