“Cleanliness is next to godliness.”
I’m fairly certain that whoever coined this phrase was not a parent, nor had he or she ever even been in the near vicinity of a toddler.
I, too, was once a neat freak, a god among women in the world of squeaky clean counter tops and spotless kitchen floors. It seems like a distant memory now, as my membership to perceived godliness was revoked. I traded it in for something far better: motherhood.
I exchanged tidy hardwood floors for tiny, flour-crusted fingers. I swapped out a perfect porcelain toilet bowl for a little human coated in baking powder. Images of a dishes-free sink were interchanged with pictures of a toddler in a chef’s hat, drenched head to toe in brown sugar. I won’t say I don’t miss spotlessness, but I strongly believe, after all of these exchanges, I ended up with the better end of the deal.
Above all else, I strive to make creativity fun for my son. I started filming our time together in the kitchen and thus began our cooking show Oliver’s Kitchen – an ode to the culinary prowess lurking in the mind of a toddler. With only creativity to guide him, my son has made many hilarious entrees, appetizers, and desserts over the months we’ve been filming. It’s never a dull moment in Oliver’s Kitchen.
A green bean casserole with only one green bean. Christmas cookies in liquid form. A supreme pizza with sauce on only one side, so the crust on the other side can be broken off and dipped into the heavily sauced side. Coffee cake in a cup that needed the jaws of life to be extracted. All hilarious, all educational, all in good fun, and all on his own.
I want my son to know the joy that comes from creating something – and I want to instill in him a lifelong hunger for that.
I once heard an analogy from a fellow parent that has stuck with me ever since: “Cooking is a lot like raising children. You get out of it exactly what you put into it.” There are a lot of recipes out there on how to properly make a dish, but the best part of any culinary adventure is the uniqueness you bring to it. Great ingredients make great food. It’s much the same in parenting: you have all the ingredients to make a great kid, it’s just a matter of how you use them.
Even if you add too much flour, or not enough eggs, or are a little heavy handed with your chili powder, you can always learn from those actions and alter your approach. As long as you keep trying, your kids, and your recipe, will always be a little richer for your efforts tomorrow.
Cleanliness may very well be next to godliness, but there’s another popular phrase I like a heck of a lot better: “Let them be little.” Your child is scarcely going to remember how clean your bathroom was. As their parent, you’re already a god in their eyes anyway. I promise, you’ll have a million and one opportunities to scrub the kitchen, but they’ll only get one shot at childhood. Make it a delicious one.