Earlier this year, my husband and I went on vacation to Punta Cana where I indulged in a cappuccino and a “pain au chocolat" chocolate croissant every morning. It was bliss.
Upon returning home, we discovered that all four children were very sick. For a moment, my rested, relaxed self wanted to return to the airport and get back to my bliss. That’s not exactly how it works, so I decided that Punta Cana (and its croissants) would have to wait. I found my big-girl panties, put them on, and spent the next few days of “Re-Entry” doing loads of laundry, sanitizing surfaces, and nursing sick children back to health.
When I came up for air, I was craving those chocolate croissants something fierce. Living in Eastern Iowa makes fresh pastries hard to come by. The quick-recipe Pinterest offered - using Pillsbury dough and chocolate chips - just wasn’t going to cut it.
If you want something bad enough, you’ll find a way to get it. If you don’t believe me, then apparently you haven’t witnessed a toddler find a stool and climb a shelf in attempts of helping himself to the chocolate jar.
Instead of wondering how long a year would pass until I would be able to indulge in vacation croissants again, I decided to bake my own.
This is the excerpt from my March 1, 2017 entry:
On Monday I started an undertaking: making "Pain au Chocolat," French for Chocolate Croissant. My recipe yielded 10-12. The recipe also said that it was going to take 19 hours to complete. Not 19 minutes. 19 hours! And when you are craving a chocolate croissant, 19 hours is a long, long time! I decided that great things are worth the wait. And so, I began. On Day One, I made the dough and watched it “bloom.” I added the remaining flour, sugar, and salt. I then let the dough rest in the fridge overnight. The following morning, on Day Two, I took 2 1/2 sticks of butter and cut, beat, and rolled it out into a 7x7 square, which I then incorporated into the dough. Then the “letter fold” process began of folding the dough onto itself, twice, to roll it out and fold again. After the fold, the dough had to chill which called for an hour-long rest in the fridge. This process or “turn” had to happen a total of three times, calling for 27 tiny layers of dough and butter. And that was only the beginning! After that I had to cut the dough into rectangles, roll over chocolate batons and let them “proof” in the cold refrigerator. This was the most interesting part of the recipe. You could proof the dough three ways: overnight in the refrigerator, on the counter for a few hours, or somewhere warm for one hour. I decided that for all of my time and effort that it was worth it to have them proof in the refrigerator overnight to allow the flavors to strengthen and settle. By this time, my craving had evolved into a deep respect for the dough, butter, and chocolate. On Bake Day, I pulled the pans out onto the counter and let them come to room temperature - another two hours. I had to make sure that they had “proofed” and had risen more. If I shook the pan, they were to jiggle. The silly details of the recipe were amazingly helpful. I prepared the egg wash and applied thinly as it instructed. Finally, it was time to bake! Only 30 minutes in a 400 degree oven - turning the pan halfway through the baking process - and then they were done. Fifty-four hours later. After trying a bite, they were worth. every. single. second.
And that's Motherhood.
So much of what we do is a process, which a Google search defines as “a series of actions or steps taken in order to achieve a particular end.” We have a responsibility of setting our children up for success. We teach them how to sit, walk, jump, and climb (carefully). We pull their little finger down over the light switch for the very first time; then wonder why we taught them that in the first place, as the light switch becomes altogether fascinating! We teach little boys to pee standing up and then remind them to put the seat down. We teach little girls the rules of combing long hair and why they have to start at the bottom. We teach them how to brush their teeth and how to rinse the sink out. We teach them how to take the garbage out, and why it will have to be done again, and again, and again. We teach them the difference of little “b” from little “d", left from right, and right from wrong.
I’m looking ahead to my future, and based off of what I’ve experienced and observed, there’s a plethora of teachings yet to be given. Teachings of hygiene and personal care. Teachings of respect and authority. Teachings of hard work and keeping your word. Teachings of commitment and sacrifice. Teachings of money and time-management. Teachings of love and dating. Teachings of loving God and what it looks like to truly keep Him first.
Motherhood is a marathon. The days are long and the years are short. I’m told to enjoy it “as they grow up fast.” I’m finding this to be true. This process of raising children should be respected, savored, and enjoyed. Resist the temptation to rush, overlook, or skip any steps.
When my children look back on their childhood, I want them to be able to say that I loved Jesus, their Daddy, and them - passionately. I hope they can also say that my mothering was done with patience and grace.
In the fifty-four hours of prepping for a 30 minute bake-time, I learned an invaluable lesson: the product is always worth the process.
Zechariah 4:10 says, "Do not despise these small beginnings, for the LORD rejoices to see the work begin, to see the plumb line in Zerubbabel's hand..."
Enjoy your series of steps and when you hear the oven timer go off, may you be pleased with the results.