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Who Ever Said that Motherhood Is Anti-Intellectual?

alec vanderboom

My seven year old went to the public library, picked up a cookbook called "The Art of French Pastry," and begged me to help her learn how to make croissants. She picked out a two-day seven page recipe. I took a quick glance at her cookbook and thought "This is so beyond us!"

I made a joke about her desires not matching our skill level to my husband at dinner. The man is eating chicken and pasta over a real tablecloth and he suddenly looks at me like he is starving. "You could learn how to make croissants?" He said the word "croissants" with such longing and hope.

This morning, I told my daughter "OK, for homeschooling today we are going to work on your croissant recipe. It's going to be hard. We're probably going to fail a lot. But if we master this task, it's going to be so worth it."

I thought I was sort of bending the "school" thing a little bit this morning. Home Ec is nice, but I sort of put it in the "not a serious academic subject" part of life. Ha! Am I totally wrong!

Here is an actual quote from the start of Maria's new croissant recipe:

"Method. Day 1.

1. Make the poolish with a base temperature of 54 degree Celsius. Take the temperature of the flour and the room (convert to Celsius), and add them together. Then adjust your water temperature (Celsius) so that the sum of the three ingredients is 54 degree Celsius. If you wish, you can now convert the result into Fahrenheit." (Pleiffer, Jacquy. The Art of French Pastry, p. 128)

Are you kidding me? I haven't done Celsius/ Fahrenheit conversions since 10th grade science class! This morning, I'm relearning that task, cheerfully, for love of my kid.

I find that Motherhood makes me more flexible in my thinking and my identity. I've long ago decided that I wasn't a "science girl" or a "math girl" or someone good with tools, exercise, etc. Yet in this role as a Mom, I have to reconnect with skill sets and problem-solving methods that I haven't touched for 25 years.

Motherhood is humbling and hard work. Motherhood is also intellectually challenging!