You know that old saying you heard from your parents growing up, “One day when you have children of your own, you will understand.” Well, they were right.
Sunday was my second Mother’s Day. I have to say as far as this whole parenting thing goes, I have been blessed. I was given the gift of a happy, healthy little boy, with ten fingers and ten ticklish little toes, whispy blonde hair that really needs to be trimmed but I just can’t seem to get him to sit still long enough, and a pot belly that he likes to point at proudly and announce, “Belly!” He has an infectious little giggle, eyelashes I would kill for, dimples in both cheeks, and loads of personality. The best part of my day is picking him up from daycare and having him run across the classroom like he’s never been so happy to see anyone in his entire life.
However, the aspects of parenthood that make me appreciate my mom the most are the days when I’m dog tired and I come from work to a house that hasn’t been cleaned in two weeks because I either haven’t had the time or the energy to do it. Those days when Little Tot is cranky or tired or cutting another tooth and nothing I do will stop his whining. The days when I really don’t feel like worrying about what we are going to have for dinner, whether or not I have something ironed to wear to work, or whether he has a clean sippy cup for the next morning.
Sunday was my mom’s 31st Mother’s Day. My mother went back to school to become a nurse when I was about Little Tot’s age. I remember her locking herself in our back bedroom to study. I remember seeing the light of the desk lamp shining under the door. When she graduated she worked the night shift until sometime when I was in grade school. I remember her working 12-hour shifts and me having to play quietly during the day so she could sleep.
But I also remember her rocking me to sleep at night. I remember her reading me bedtime stories. She had me in church every Sunday and dinner was always on the table by the time my Dad came home from work. I remember watching Saturday morning cartoons while she cleaned the house. And I don’t remember this – but I am told once I pitched a huge hissy fit in front of a department store because I swore we left my pretend friend inside and he couldn’t get out. I cried until my mother went back to the store and opened the swinging glass door to the front entrance for some invisible person.
Looking back now, I realize there were days when she felt just as dog-tired as I do now. And she probably missed those days when it was someone else’s responsibility to take care of everything. And I feel bad for those times I stole a pair of her earrings, wore them to school, and then lost them. Or the time I tried to iron my hair and accidentally burned the ottoman in the living room. And all those times I smarted off to her as a teenager because I thought she and my dad never let me do anything fun.
My mom is a tiny little whisp of a thing. She’s shy and would much rather blend in to the background than be the center of attention. However, she has worked as a kick ass labor and delivery nurse for almost 30 years. She has delivered probably ¾ of the population in my hometown and all her patients just love her. She’s shy, but she thinks nothing of standing in front of a group of expecting parents to teach a childbirth class. She’s listened to me cry over every boy that broke my heart, sat next to my Dad as he underwent chemotherapy, and told me to push when it was time for me to give birth. I don’t think she has any idea how strong of a person she really is.
So I’m going to stop now because I’m crying and if my mom is reading this then she is probably crying too. That’s another thing about my mom – the woman will cry at the drop of a hat.
This past weekend my parents came down to visit. They say they are coming to see us, but it didn’t take The Husband and me long to figure out that once LittleTot arrived, they are really coming to see him. I am reminded of a phone conversation I had with my mother shortly after Little Tot was born, that I have yet to let her forget.
Mom: “How is my baby doing?”
Me, after a short pause: “Well, I’m doing fine but I gather you aren’t talking about me, even though technically I am your baby.”
Since I have still been able to buy fresh local strawberries (thank God for a mild winter), I thought strawberry shortcakes with baking powder biscuits would be a nice treat. Only these biscuits have a different spin – it took my regular biscuit recipe and swirled them with cinnamon and sugar. The cinnamon and strawberries pair really well together. Enjoy!
- 2 pints fresh strawberries, washed, hulled, sliced
- 1 vanilla bean
- ¼ cup granulated sugar
- 2 cups all-purpose flour
- 1 tablespoon granulated sugar
- 3 teaspoons baking powder
- 1 teaspoon salt
- ½ cup (1 stick) cold butter, grated
- ¾ - 1 cup milk
- 2 tablespoons cinnamon
- 2 tablespoons granulated sugar
- 1 cup heavy whipping cream
- ¼ cup sugar
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- Place strawberries in a medium bowl.
- Slice vanilla bean down the center with a sharp knife. Open the bean to reveal the seeds. Using a spoon, gently scrape the seeds from the inside of the vanilla bean.
- In a small bowl, combine vanilla seeds with the sugar.
- Pour sugar over strawberries, stir to combine, then allow to sit for at least 30 minutes or up to eight hours.
- In the meantime, preheat the oven to 450 degrees.
- Combine flour, sugar, baking powder, and salt in a large mixing bowl.
- Add grated butter and stir until butter is well-incorporated.
- Add milk and stir, adding more milk as needed, until dough starts to pull away from the sides of the bowl and comes together.
- Pour dough out onto a lightly floured surface. Knead ten times. Roll dough out to ¼-inch thickness.
- Combine cinnamon and sugar. Sprinkle half the cinnamon-sugar mixture over rolled out dough, spreading to within about ¼-inch of the edge. Bring the long edges of the dough into the center, as if you were tri-folding a letter. Then fold in the short edges.
- Roll the dough out again to ¼-inch thickness. Repeat the above steps one more time.
- Roll the dough out again to ½-inch thickness. Using a round cookie cutter, cut out the biscuits and place on a greased cookie sheet, about two inches apart.
- Bake for 10 – 12 minutes or until the biscuits are golden.
- To prepare the whipped cream, whisk whipping cream on medium speed of an electric mixer. Add sugar and vanilla. Continue to beat until soft peaks form.
- To serve, place a warm biscuit on a plate. Drizzle strawberries over the biscuit. Top with whipped cream.