Almost every week, I show up at a friend’s house with a car seat slung over my elbow and two toddlers in tow. We let ourselves in the back mudroom door, and I try to remember to take my kids’ shoes off—although more often than not, I never bothered to put shoes on their feet in the first place. My twins make their way into the kitchen and I set the car seat in the corner, praying the baby stays asleep a little longer.
My son climbs behind the armchair in the playroom to retrieve the box of trains, and my daughter heads to the white, child-sized table to color. There are four of us that get together nearly every week, twelve kids between us all. A handful of the kids are at school during the day, so only having eight or nine kids around feels almost calm.
We attempt to catch up on life or discuss the book we’re reading together, but of course those discussions are interrupted by refereeing playtime or the crash of crayons being dumped. We can barely speak a full sentence without a baby crying or someone needing a diaper change. (More than once, I’ve changed a diaper only to realize on my drive home I left the dirty one on my friend’s living floor. I’ve considered not saying anything out of embarrassment, but I opt to send a quick text message apologizing and sheepishly asking her to toss the abandoned diaper.)
Once the chaos and noise level come to a head, we gather the tiny humans together for a snack. Maybe that’ll keep them busy enough for us to talk just a few more minutes. We divvy out veggie straws and raisins, crackers and fruit. It’s not uncommon for me to end up staying through lunchtime, in which case out comes the turkey, cheese, and bread.
But I never bring the snacks.
You’d think I would, with my obsession with food and love for cooking. I promise my intentions are good. Every Wednesday I tell myself to get something ready to bring on Thursday morning, and every Thursday morning I rush out the door with a few kids, a handful of diapers, and no snacks to share.
I don’t like being the one who can’t contribute, the one who is fed but doesn’t feed—especially since I truly do love to cook and believe deeply in the value of sharing food. But as I walk further down this motherhood road, I’m learning more and more how deeply I need other mamas, how I can't—and shouldn’t—do this alone, and that sometimes just showing up is okay.
So I walk in that back mudroom door with my hands full of children, and nothing else. That freedom is a precious gift.
The days will come again when I’ll bring the snacks. I’ll pay it forward and love on other mamas the way I’ve been loved. But until then, I’m grateful for the grace to show up empty-handed.
Almond, Coconut + Date Bites
Yields about 30 1½ inch-sized bites
Adapted from Detoxinista
2 cups raw, unsalted almonds
1 cup shredded, unsweetened coconut flakes
15-16 Medjool dates, pitted
½ cup cacao nibs (or sub chocolate chips)
¼ cup coconut oil
½ teaspoon kosher salt
Add all the ingredients to a food processor. Pulse a few times to mix everything together, then continue to process until the mixture is crumbly. Everything should look relatively uniform in size, so if you have any large pieces of almonds, pulse a few more times to chop them up.
Shape into balls, pressing the mixture firmly together so it sticks. Shaping them can get a little messy. I’ve found it helps to put a little coconut oil on my hands and work over a large bowl so extra crumbs fall into the bowl rather than all over my kitchen.
Place on a baking sheet and freeze until firm (at least a half hour). Transfer to a zip-top bag or airtight container. Store in the fridge for a week or so, or keep them in the freezer for up to several months.