April 11, 2016

How Motherhood Is Like a Brownie


Oh, mama, I've got such a gift for you today. Actually, I've got a couple.

The first is the chance to meet my friend Christine--founder and heart behind 4Real Moms. Which, if you're not already a fan of, you should check out ASAP. Christine is a gorgeous blond former cheerleader while I'm a brunette choir-geek-turned-band-mom. But I love her because we share, among other things, a passion for chocolate and a loathing of crafts, house cleaning, and exercise.

The second gift is Christine's guest post, which is all about brownies. How much she loves them. How motherhood is like one. And how you can make some for yourself. Because if you don't already want a brownie just as a general life principle, you'll probably want one by the time you've finished reading Christine's post...

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It’s no secret that I love brownies.  

Yes, I even hide them from my kids. Yes, I even con friends and family into letting me take home extra brownies “for the kids” that strangely never make it home to the kids. I know. It’s a sickness. I love brownies that much.
 
And after turning 40 (almost 2 years ago), I’ve learned not to apologize for things like this, either. I love brownies. And now you know that if I ever give you a whole pan of brownies, that means I really, really love you. Because let’s be real here: when you give someone brownies and you cut them out of a pan and put them in little squares on a paper plate or even on a fancy platter, aren’t you really just saying that I kind of love you, but I love eating some of these brownies before I gave them to you even more?

Maybe that’s just me.

Brownies haven’t always consumed my mind. In fact, I gave them up for six years…that’s right! In fact, I gave up all chocolate for six years. I hear the gasps now! I went through infertility and in my desperation to get pregnant, chocolate was one of the many things I had to change in my diet. (Maybe that’s why I make no apologies now for eating brownies ALL THE TIME?) Now, I’m blessed to have three beautiful children in my life. And I’m also blessed to have brownies back in my life, too.

The other day, as I was making a pan of these delicious soothers of my soul for a friend who just had a baby (and yes, I gave her the whole pan because I love her that much!!), my kids were chasing each other around the house, giggling, and intermittently throwing in some fighting about some toy that no one wanted to play with until one kid picked it up and then all of the sudden, it became the “it” toy and everyone wanted it at the same time, and it dawned on me just how much motherhood is like a brownie…

1. It's a treat. Brownies are delicious. They are chewy. They are chocolatey. They are scrumptious. They are a treat. Motherhood is a treat too--one that you savor and enjoy. And even in the midst of the challenges and chaos that motherhood brings, I’m truly honored to be a mom…especially when I thought I would never be one. It brings me such joy to watch my kids learn and grow…to hear them using loving and compassionate words (most of the time)…to see them giving and sharing and being kind to one another (unless someone has the “it” toy). I treasure every sweet moment because they don’t always last long (and neither do any brownies within a 100 foot radius of me).

2. It requires self-control. Seriously, I have no self-control when it comes to brownies. And as a mom, I struggle with anger and losing my temper because, let’s face it, my kids are not the perfect treats all the time. They’re great kids, but they’re normal kids. They test boundaries. They disobey. They throw fits.  They test my patience. And just like I can’t gobble up a whole pan of brownies (although I’d like to), I also can’t gobble up my kids’ spirits with yelling (although I do that more than I’d like to admit). Even though I still have my moments where I lose it, I’ve learned the beautiful art of counting to 10…breathing…and praying...and only eating one brownie while I’m counting and breathing and praying.

3. It is diverse. Brownies are so diverse. They can come with nuts…without nuts…with peanut butter…with caramel…with chocolate chips…with Oreo cookies…with powdered sugar…with frosting. In fact, I have a cookbook called “101 Best Brownie Recipes." Did you hear that--101 BROWNIE RECIPES! Yes, that book is a treasure in my house. I’ve learned that there is even more diversity in motherhood. There are 1001 ways to breastfeed, sleep-train, potty-train, diaper, dress, teach, feed, and even carry a child these days. And every child is different. What works for one doesn’t always work for the other.  How one child feels loved isn’t how another child feels loved. Just when you get one problem worked out, ten more present themselves. Even though every brownie is different, every brownie is delicious. Even though every child is different, when mixed with love, every child can become delightful. 

4. It is imperfect. I know you might be thinking, “What? Brownies are imperfect?” Yes. They are actually quite temperamental. Sometimes a little over-done. Sometimes a little underdone. Not that any kind of baking doneness will stop me from eating a brownie, but they are in fact quite imperfect. And so am I as a mom.  Motherhood has taught me just how imperfect I actually am. Even though I thought I was completely normal and quite perfect before I had children, God assures me that I wasn’t. Hmmmm.  Embracing my imperfections, learning to apologize for my mistakes, seeking forgiveness on a regular basis has actually been quite freeing. What a great example to set for my children. And the realization that no mom is perfect has been even more freeing! No brownie is perfect and yet it’s still delicious. No mom is perfect and yet she is still beautiful and wonderful and courageous and loving and giving and amazing. We all love our children and we are all doing the best we know how to raise them to be kind and loving human beings in this world. Let’s pray for, encourage, and uplift one another, and by golly, let’s all share our imperfect brownies with each other too!

Dear mom, the next time you eat a brownie (and I hope it’s soon with these easy recipes below), remember to take a deep breath. Motherhood is hard, but it’s a treat. We are all doing the best we can. We are all imperfect. Savor each moment in motherhood, and savor each bite of every brownie…but try not to eat the whole pan.

Oh, and save one for me! 

Best Brownies {print}

Ingredients:
4 eggs (beaten until foamy)
2 cups of sugar
½ cup butter (softened)
1 cup flour
1 tsp salt
1 tsp baking powder
1 tsp vanilla
½ cup cocoa
¾ cup chocolate chips (or however many you want—no one is watching)

Directions: 
1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Beat eggs until foamy. Add sugar, butter, and vanilla. Mix together.
2. In a separate bowl, combine flour, salt, baking powder, and cocoa. Use fork or wire whisk to stir. Add to the wet ingredients and stir.
3. Add chocolate chips and/or nuts. Stir. Pour into a greased 9 x 13 pan. 
4. Bake for 20-25 minutes. Let cool and sprinkle powdered sugar on top.  Enjoy!

Best Boxed Brownies {print}

Ingredients:
1 box of Ghirardelli Dark Chocolate (or Double Dark) Brownie Mix
1/4 c water
1/2 c vegetable oil (or applesauce)
1 egg
1/4 c chocolate chips (or more—really, I put no limit on chocolate chips)

Directions:
1. Follow directions on the box.
2. After you spread the brownie mixture in the prepared pan, my secret is to add extra chocolate chips on the top to make sure there is at least one or five chocolate chips in every bite! Yum!

CHRISTINE LEEB is known as the “Real Mom." She is a speaker, writer, Christian Life Coach, and the founder of 4Real Moms—an organization
encouraging moms to be real while helping them be the best moms God created them to be. She has three beautiful (and exhausting) children and has been married to her husband, Brad, for almost 16 wonderful (and challenging) years. She enjoys garage sale-ing, brownie eating, friendship keeping, book reading, family tickling, and husband dating. She is the author of the devotional In His Light: Facing Fear with Faith, and her newest ebook is Meal-Planning for the Mom Who Hates Meal-Planning. For more encouragement and resources, visit her website at www.4realmoms.com

This post may have been shared at some of these blog bashes.


46 comments:

  1. Elizabeth, thank you for sharing this post from Christine (who, whether she knows it or not yet is also going to also be my friend...I hope).

    I adore your humble approach to parenting, Christine. While I knew all children were different before having some, it honestly didn't occur to me how much problem solving I would have to do to show each one I love them. This parenting thing is moving me far beyond the realm of the Five Love Languages (helpful, but very simple compared to my daily reality).

    And, I didn't like chocolate until I had children. Now I have real problems. Thanks for this post!

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    1. Aw, thank you, Nicole! OF COURSE Christine will want to be your friend. Who in their right mind wouldn't? For that matter, I'm not really too often in my right mind, and I think you're fabulous. I know Christine will reply to your sweet comment, too, but I just wanted to say thanks for being so encouraging!

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    2. Hi Nicole. Oh my yes! The good Lord has humbled me soooo much after becoming a mom. "Seriously, have I always like this?" is a question I ask myself frequently. But I'm honored that God is using me to teach and encourage other moms about the "realness" of motherhood and what a treat it truly is...almost as great as a brownie! :-) Blessings to you as you navigate this whole parenting thing with your whole heart and hopefully a whole pan of brownies. :-)

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  2. That was a fun and yummy post that we (mom's) can all relate to. Now I really want to bake some (over done - my favorite) brownies.

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    1. Thank you so much. I'm so glad that you could relate to this post and that it spoke to your mommy heart as well as your mommy stomach. Now go bake some over-done brownies! You deserve it. :-)

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    2. Isn't Christine awesome?! :) I knew I'd love this post this minute she suggested it...and I also knew I wouldn't be the only one. Thanks so much for stopping by!

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  3. Love this! I can totally relate to the self control part.. both with the brownie and with motherhood! ;)

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    1. I love it, too, Victoria! And oh my yes, that self-control piece "spoke" to me as well. ;) As a matter of fact, there IS a partial pan of brownies on the counter this minute that I didn't polish off, so I'm counting that as a self-control score!

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    2. Thank you Victoria! Oh yes...self-control. That's a tough one. I agree with you that it's tough with both motherhood and with brownies. The best part is that when we fail or make a mistake or eat too many brownies, there is always new grace each day! Amen to that. :-)

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  4. You have such an interesting blog. Thanks for sharing. I'm a life coach blogger. Reading blogs is my hobby and I randomly found your blog. I enjoyed reading your posts. All the best for your future blogging endeavors. Please keep in touch with me in Twitter, @lifecoachbloger and Google+, +sridharchandrasekaran

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    1. Thank you so much, Sridhar! I'm so glad you found my little slice of the blogging pie! ;) Blessings on your future endeavors, too!

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    2. I know! Elizabeth's blog is amazing and she is amazing and her writing is amazing and her love for chocolate is amazing. ;-) Ok...I think you get that she's amazing! :-)

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  5. This is adorable! It totally lifted my spirits this morning. Also, I agree... the Ghirardelli boxed brownies are hands down the best. Confession: I've never made brownies from scratch!

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    1. Yay,Leah...that's so encouraging to read!! I know I can speak for Christine when I say that we are honored to be part of any spirit-lifting that can go on in the blogging world. Thank you so much! As for the brownies, why would you make them from scratch when there are those Ghiradellis in the world? ;) I make them both ways but try to keep Ghiradelli on hand for "emergencies." And it's surprising what constitutes an "emergency" around here. Namely: a lot. ;)

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    2. Leah--thank you so much! That truly makes my day when I can lift someone's spirits! :-) And I agree--no need to make them from scratch. In fact, I have a box of Ghirardelli dark chocolate brownies that are calling my name...self-control...self-control...self-control! :-)

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  6. I LOVE this! It made me smile and I'm sharing it on my Facebook page.

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    1. Well, I LOVE that it made you smile. Knowing that is such a huge gift...thank you for telling us. And thank you for the share! Bless you!

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    2. Oh it warms my heart to know that I made another mom smile! :-)And I hope you enjoyed some brownies too! :-)

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  7. Such a great post! Love brownies and love motherhood. I really appreciate that you embrace the imperfection of motherhood - it's a very refreshing perspective to read. I'm sharing this one! #FFBH

    Nicole | The Professional Mom Project

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    1. Thank you so much, Nicole! I'm SO grateful you took time to come over from #FFBH, because now I've met you. What a joy for my day. And THANK YOU for sharing!

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    2. Thank you Nicole! The love for brownies and the love for motherhood seem to go hand in hand. I'm so glad that you appreciated this perspective. :-)

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  8. This was the sweetest post! (no pun intended.. haha) It made me smile and definitely crave brownies ;) I love this take on motherhood.... done in a refreshing way!!!

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    1. Aw, YOU are so sweet, Miranda! (BTW, I am a HUGE pun fan!) Isn't Christine a doll? With her words, she makes moms "smile and crave brownies," so that is 100% a gift. Thank you for stopping by! :)

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    2. Hi Miranda. Awwww. Thank you so much. Honestly, I love to hear when I make a mom smile and that I made you crave brownies too is a plus! :-)

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  9. I had to laugh at cutting out the brownies and putting them on a plate, because I definitely have to taste one whenever I gift brownies that way!

    Loving your metaphors! So much truth. Now I'll munch on nuggets of motherly wisdom the next time I eat a brownie.

    I'm starving for chocolate now.

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    1. Well, Jamie, anything that makes eating brownies even more of a "meditation" than it already is looks like a WIN to me! ;) If you haven't already, check out Christine's site at http://www.4realmoms.com/. I think you'll love it as much as I do. She is the "real" deal! ;) P.S. Have I mentioned lately now much I love #FFBH? 'Cause I do. :)

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    2. Hi Jamie. I'm glad I could make you laugh, but there is so much truth to the brownie cutting before you give them away. :-) That's how my friends know that I really love them! And I love the idea of using brownie eating as a time for reflecting and meditating on motherly wisdom. Just another excuse to eat a brownie! YAY! :-)

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  10. How could anyone NOT read this post! Love the title! Love the content! So much fun and truth in one package!

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    1. Right, Michele?! I felt the same way when Christine suggested this idea and then again when I read her actual piece! I wholeheartedly agree with everything you said. Thanks so much for saying it! :)

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    2. Michele--those were my words exactly when I wrote this post for the lovely, Elizabeth--my absolute favorite guilty chocoholic mama! :-) How could anyone NOT want to read this. Motherhood...brownies...I'm sold!!! :-) Thank you for your kind words. It always makes me happy to speak love, life, and truth through comedic words and of course...brownies!

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  11. Nice post. Love the analogy between brownies and being a mom! The recipe looks pretty good too! Thanks for sharing at Welcome Home Wednesdays. See you tomorrow!

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    1. Wasn't that analogy brilliant, Erin? (I can say that since I didn't come up with it.) Looking forward to another WHW! :)

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    2. Hi Erin. Thank you so much for stopping by and enjoying my little weird way of encouraging moms through the love of brownies. I hope you enjoy eating the brownies and being a mom! They're both awesome. :-)

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  12. I love this! Brownies are so very hard to say no too - much like my daughter, no matter how naughty she's been! Thanks so much for sharing at #FridayFrivolity. :D

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    1. I know, right, Jessica?! I was so honored that Christine wrote this for my little blog. And I know what you mean about your daughter...I used to tell my #2 (who, shall we say, "tested us" early on) that her cuteness covered a multitude of sins! Thanks for swinging by...I'm already looking forward to this week's #FridayFrivolity!

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    2. Hi Jessica. Right? It takes so much self-control to be near a brownie just as it takes self-control to say "no" to our children even when they look up at us with those big, beautiful eyes and pouty lips. :-) Oy--it takes so much self-control and I'm glad that God doesn't make us do this parenting thing alone!

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  13. I don't think I've ever almost cried over a post about a brownie until today. This is actually very beautiful and insightful! And brownies are my weakness also! They are my favorite! Thank you so much for sharing this sweet (ha!) post! I found your link on waiting on Wednesday link up!

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    1. Kristen, I completely agree (which I can do without sounding conceited since I didn't write it!). It sounds to me like you need to join the brownie moms club with Christine and me. I like you already just from your sweet (heehee) comment!

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    2. Hi Kristen--Awww. I love that these words warmed your mommy heart and that you're already finding more connections between motherhood and the brownie! :-) And yes, Elizabeth, there might just be something to the Brownie Moms Club. :-)

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    3. I would join that club especially since brownies are in the title! ❤

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  14. I love this post so much! Motherhood is without a doubt like brownies!

    Thanks for sharing with us at the Friday Funday blog hop!

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    1. ...and thank you, Lissette, for so kindly FEATURING it at #FFBH! What a sweet surprise for my morning. You #FFBH girls are fabulous! xoxo

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  15. I love the encouragement in this post! I'm a brownie lover myself and I think it is about time I bake myself a pan. Thanks, Elizabeth, for sharing with Thankful Thursdays.

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    1. Well, Lori, I already liked you, but now I REALLY like you, knowing you're in the Brownie Moms Club! ;) And what a sweet Thankful Thursdays hostess you are...so encouraging and supportive. Bless you, mama!

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  16. Hey Elizabeth and Kristne: this is such a tasty post! Filled with humor and yummyness. What an awesome combination. Must try these brownies soon! Thanks for sharing. :o)

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    1. Aw, thanks, Tiffiney...Christine and I aim to please! ;) And what a compliment: "humor and yummyness." What more can we ask for? Thanks so much for stopping by...happy brownie baking!

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I'd love to hear from you! Feel free to tell me what you really think. Years ago, I explained to my then-two-year that my appointment with a counselor was "sort of like going to a doctor who will help me be a better mommy." Without blinking, she replied, "You'd better go every day." All of which is just to say I've spent some time in the school of brutal honesty!