A few weeks ago, while our granddaughter, Lucy, was visiting solo for a few days, I brought a book down from the attic that had been given to us in 1991 when our youngest, Hannah, was three years old. In Thunder Cake, written by one of my favorite author/illustrators, Patricia Polacco, a Babushka (grandma) notices that her granddaughter is very afraid of an approaching thunderstorm. Pulling her from under the table the wise old woman teaches her to count out loud from the moment she sees a lightening strike until the thunder rolls. This calculates how many miles the storm is away from them. Her early counting proves that it is a long way off, so there is plenty of time to mix up a Thunder Cake before the storm hits. The task of pulling together the ingredients for this cake makes for a fun story. Scampering outside to collect eggs, trekking to the barn to milk the cow, and skipping down the path through Tangleweed Woods to the dry shed were easy tasks made stressful with the impending storm, quickly approaching. Lucy and I were also experiencing a rainy day so this was a perfect time to make our very own Thunder Cake! I plopped Lucy up on the counter, wrapping her in my old fashioned apron. The recipe in the book led me to realize that all the ingredients weren't in my cupboard, but at least I didn't have to go out and milk a cow, so I made do with what I had, making a few simple substitutions.
Everything went well and we produced a delicious chocolate Thunder Cake and had tons of fun in the process. But the next day, Hannah visited, heard what we had done and quietly lamented one fact.
"You never made a Thunder Cake with me!"
I admitted that even though she and I had read this book many times, we had never taken the time to bake the cake. We had not lined up the ingredients, measured them out, mixed them up to produce one humble Thunder Cake in all those years.
Is there a lesson here for me? Probably lots of them, and I could beat myself up for never having baked that cake with Hannah. I'll admit, I was tempted. But I went on to recall that Hannah and I participated in many other amazing projects during those busy younger years of homeschooling and raising a family. To nurse any guilt or bemoaning self talk concerning this situation is a waste of good guilt! My current life presents me with a more relaxed view of time and I hope to not miss any opportunities to experience fully the joy of life with a young one whom I adore. But I will do what I did then...I'll do the best I can.
I offer kindness to the younger me of Hannah's childhood and I also project kindness into the future for ways the older me will do the best she can. I might fall short but sometimes it's just plain good enough to do the best we can.
I know this is a small thing and no one was hurt by this small decision, or lack there of, but by practicing self kindness in the small things, perhaps I'll be ready when bigger regrets race out to greet me in the future.
Even though, Hannah, the next time a storm is on the way, I'm here, ready to get those ingredients set out on the counter with the challenge to get the thing baked before the storm arrives. Come on over. It will be great fun and you have waited long enough to experience it. Maybe I'll even let you lick the spoon.