This article originally appeared in HomeLife Magazine.
Moms can make everything better.
My daughter’s first birthday was celebrated on a warm August night with the whole family wrapped around the table. The meal was chaotic with many interruptions, so after dinner, my mom and I secured her in her stroller and set out for an evening walk. As we walked and talked, I grew emotional at the realization that my child’s first year had flown by. I quizzically asked Mom, “What do you do when they grow up?” Mom dryly replied, “Well, you get to eat a hot meal.”
On my daughter’s 10th birthday, we hosted a sleepover. A gaggle of girls entered in a plethora of pink and purple. Dance routines were performed, presents were unwrapped, and the cake was devoured. Throughout the night music and movies and whispers and giggles could be heard from my upstairs perch. The following morning, I drew a heavy yawn and called my mom. She listened patiently as I gushed over the party details; then I asked, “What’s left when there are no parties to plan?” She casually answered, “You get to sleep through the night.”
On her 20th birthday, my daughter’s early return to college preempted any celebration, so later that year we flew her into Tampa as a surprise to her brothers during a family camping trip on the beach. Driving over the bridge from the airport I breathed in the salt air while basking in the trio of laughter coming from our backseat once again. We pulled into the campground next to my mom and dad’s site. After supper and sunset, I fearfully asked my mom, “What do you do when they all leave?” Mom gently squeezed my arm and said, “You get to have your husband back.”
This past year we celebrated my daughter’s 30th birthday, while once again vacationing on our beloved beaches with my mom and dad. I noticed a change in the tides. My daughter didn’t eat hot meals as she chased her three-year-old around the pool. She didn’t sleep through the night since she was nearing the end of her second trimester. Time with her husband was nonexistent because he was away on military training. In contrast, I was enjoying warm-sunset meals, falling asleep to crashing waves, and taking long romantic walks with my husband.
Through the joys and hardships of raising a family, my mom’s sweet wisdom has been my anchor. I’ve found there is a time for every season of life. When the immense, all-consuming love for our children outweighs life’s simple pleasures—we’re up for the blissful task. And when that season passes, I’ve learned that other adventures await.
Diane’s Latticed Cherry Pie
Makes 1 pie
2 c. flour
1 tsp. salt (rounded)
3/4 c. shortening
6 Tbsp. very cold milk
1 Tbsp. butter cut into pieces
Cherry Pie Filling:
1 15 oz. can dark red pitted cherries in heavy syrup (not filling)
1 c. sugar
Pinch of salt
3 Tbsp. flour
1 tsp. almond extract
For the Filling:
Drain cherries and reserve juice. To the juice, add sugar, salt, flour, and almond extract. Stir well, then add cherries back to mixture.
For the Crust:
Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Add first three ingredients to a bowl and cut with pastry blender until shortening and flour are combined well. Add milk and stir with a spoon. Form dough into a ball, handling as little as possible. Divide dough in half. On a floured surface, roll out two dough balls. Place one in pie plate, gently pressing and shaping to fit surface of plate, leaving edges uncut.
For the Pie:
Pour the filling onto the bottom piecrust. Place butter pieces on top of cherry filling. Cut 1-inch strips into second rolled crust. Begin lattice work by picturing the face of a clock. Place one dough strip at 12:00 to 6:00, then the next at 3:00 to 9:00, placing each strip under or over the last until lattice-work forms. When all strips are used, cut off pastry edges clean around the pie plate. Crimp edges together with thumb and index fingers or by using a fork. Place pie in upper middle rack of oven and bake for 45 minutes. Watch the pie through oven glass and pull from oven when crust is golden brown and juice boils.
Makes 2 dozen cookies
3/4 c. shortening
1 c. sugar
4 Tbsp. molasses
2 c. flour
2 tsp. baking soda
1 tsp. cinnamon
1 tsp. cloves
1 tsp. ginger
Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Beat shortening and sugar. Add molasses and egg, mixing well. Sift dry ingredients; then blend into sugar mixture. Roll dough into small (same size) balls and roll dough in a bowl of sugar. Place balls two inches apart on a greased cookie sheet. Bake for 10 minutes.
Four Layer Strata
Makes 1 strata
1-1/2 c. flour
1-1/2 sticks butter (melted)
1 c. chopped pecans (divided)
1-8 oz. package cream cheese
1 c. powdered sugar
Large tub whipped topping (divided)
1 large chocolate instant pudding
1 tsp. vanilla
3 c. milk
Chocolate syrup (optional)
Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
Layer 1: Barely melt butter. Mix with flour and add 3/4 cup chopped nuts. Press into the bottom of a 9-by-13 baking dish. Bake for 15 minutes. Remove from oven and let cool.
Layer 2: Mix cream cheese, powdered sugar, and two cups of whipped topping, reserving the rest for top layer. Spread mixture over cooled crust. Refrigerate until it’s set.
Layer 3: Prepare chocolate instant pudding according to box directions. Add one teaspoon of vanilla. Spread over refrigerated cream cheese mixture. Place dish back in the refrigerator to set.
Layer 4: Top with remaining whipped topping. Drizzle chocolate syrup and sprinkle nuts on top or leave plain. Refrigerate until guests arrive. Cut into squares and serve chilled.