Intro

I wanted to be the mom who had warm cookies waiting on the counter when they got home from school. They would bound through the door and race into the kitchen being lured in by the chocolate and caramelized sugar perfume. I would just be finishing wiping up the last of the flour from the counter as they told me about their day. Beyond that I hadn’t thought much about life as a mom before I was one.

Then suddenly it happened. Well, after 9 months (40 weeks and 3 days but who’s counting?) of heartburn, back aches, tiredness, nausea, stretch marks and those sweet little kicks that made me teary every time, I became a mom.

I didn’t enter this role gracefully. I fought its tendencies towards monotony, the constant need to be self-less and the days on end when finding time for a shower seemed less likely than winning the lottery.

Love. That part I had down. When my first born was six weeks old I remember holding him and sobbing, fearing that he would never understand how much I love him. I thought that maybe he could see it in my eyes as we exchanged a look. He made a sort of blink and nod that assured me he felt my love until I heard a rumble and realized our moment was misinterpreted as what was now a dirty diaper.

Parenting is something that oddly elicits advice when it’s not sought after. Nearly six years into this gig I find myself freely offering up my own bits and pieces here and there to people that most likely are rolling their eyes right in front of me without my noticing because I’m quite into my own moment of reflecting on parenting. I can’t help myself. Perhaps because it has been the hardest and yet the most wonderful thing I’ve ever done. Through parenting I’ve been revealed, exposed and refined. These little ones have the ability to teach me, shape me and instruct me. That’s the sort of thing that I can’t help but talk about.

As a very new mom I was doing the eye rolling at unsolicited advice. Especially the one about enjoying the time when they are so little, it goes so fast. I heard that one hundreds of times and each time I wanted to offer them my children so they could dispel their own myth about this being an enjoyable time. I wanted them to “enjoy” the sleepless nights, the insessent diapers, the endless pile of spit-up soaked laundry, the piercing whines, and the lack of quiet moments alone. I resented that comment as it immediately made me feel horribly guilty for not loving every moment of this gig. There must be something wrong with me, I thought, these days don’t feel fleeting they feel endless.

Waking in the middle of the night to soothe them back to sleep I would remind myself, “enjoy this” but I did not. I wanted to sleep. Of course there were and are thousands of moments that I wanted to seal and store up to open when they are grown. The feeling of a baby falling asleep in your arms, a three year old asking for “snuggles”, a five year old requesting a date with you and the joyful chorus of the three of them playing legos upstairs then eagerly bounding down the stairs to show me their creations. Those are the moments I will long for.

It’s not that I don’t normally heed words of wisdom. Cozying up to the words of those who have traversed these waters before me is one of my favorite places to reside but I quickly realized that they have forgotten the details. There is a sort of amnesia that happens as the young years roll into older ones. The stench of dirty diapers no longer permeate their home leaving little trace of what actually was the reality of the days of raising young children.

I fear I’m now doing that very thing. I see someone with a baby and I run to it like a mosquito to a bright light. I swoon over the inflated cheeks and squeeze the pudgy thighs taking care not to completely freak out the baby and his sleep-deprived mother. I think when I compare baby’s thighs to sausages and how much I just want to eat them up they are indeed quite scared.

I look deeply into the mother’s eyes and speak of how I miss those baby days. I urge her to cherish these days as they pass too quickly. I long for that sweet baby scent as I inhale her baby. She doesn’t run but I’m sure she wants to.

Then I realize, I’ve done it. I have offered the advice that I so often heard and despised. The truth is I’m thrilled that we are getting a full night’s sleep. I love that I can have conversations with my 5 year old. That he desires to spend time with me and that he lets me into his reality. He offers up little glimpses into how he thinks and feels and I soak those in. My husband and I are thrilled to see them becoming more independent and in the process they are becoming little people – really awesome little people. We are sneaking in more and more moments of our own time and it feels magical. I should tell that mom this rather than inducing guilt.

We are better people having had those sleepless nights and having been forced to be incredibly selfless. There isn’t anything I would change but I want to be able to remember the challenge of it all. I felt so alone as a new mom. I felt horrible for not liking this roll as much as I thought I should. I wanted to quit my job but the career path of being a mom is one that you can’t leave. Those littles need you and whether you realize it at the time, you need them. It’s my desire to not instill in young mothers the guilt I felt when I was told to cherish those days. The reality is it’s tough work and if you don’t enjoy every moment of it you are still an incredible mom. We need to be okay with admitting our own hardships share them with those that are close to you so that we can encourage and support one another.

We women try so hard to do it all and fool everyone into thinking we have it all together when we would do better to serve one another by sharing our struggles. When I’ve done this I have found great freedom and help as often I am not the only one feeling this way. Not that I want others to struggle as I do but there is comfort in not being alone and we can work together to ease the burden.

When you aren’t a parent there is no way of knowing how hard and how joyful this journey will be. Figuring that out is part of the process. So many times I sat holding a screaming baby thinking, “how did I get here?” For better or worse. I had no idea what I was in for but I did know that there would be cookies. Warm cookies heavily laden with dark chocolate and molasses scented brown sugar. There is comfort in cookies. At some point in this parenting job I released the burden of trying to be the mom that I am not and relished in the mom that I am. Offering my children a warm plate of cookies every now and again – that I can do. I may not be the most patient mother but there will be cookies.

 

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Caramel Chocolate Chunk Cookies

 

This recipe is an adaptation of one found in Grandma’s box. I added chocolate as I often do. You may leave it out and replace with nuts or coconut as Grandma suggests. Once baked my version is a close relative of the classic chocolate chip cookie. A bit sweeter and softer than my normal chocolate chip cookie and a subtle caramel and toffee flavor. One really can’t have too many chocolate chip cookie recipes. Also, if raw eggs don’t scare you please do yourself a favor and taste this dough – as if I needed to even suggest that, who doesn’t eat at least SOME cookie dough? The toffee flavor is most pronounced in this state.

1/2 cup (1 stick) butter

1 1/2 cups brown sugar

2 eggs

1 teaspoon vanilla

1/2 teaspoon kosher salt

2 cups flour

2 teaspoons baking powder

6-8 oz dark chocolate, chopped

 

In a small saucepan add the butter and brown sugar. Bring to a boil and simmer until the sugar has dissolved. Watch carefully as you don’t want to scorch the sugar.

Let this mixture cool slightly then add to a large mixing bowl and continue to cool for 20 minutes. Once cooled add the eggs and vanilla then stir to combine. Stir in the salt, flour and baking powder. With a few streaks of flour remaining add the chocolate. If the mixture is still warm some bits of the chocolate may melt. A little bit of melting is fine and sort of wonderful.

Place the bowl in the fridge and let chill for 30 minutes.

Pre-heat your oven to 350*

Line a sheet tray with parchment and set aside.

Scoop the batter into tablespoon-size rounds and place on the sheet tray. Bake for 12 minutes until golden around the rims. Let the cookies cool on the tray for five minutes while they settle into themselves creating a crackly crust.

Finish cooling on a wire rack.

 

** I have a fun announcement for you all! I have been nominated in the Saveur.com Best Food Blog Awards for Food Photography. Oh boy, I’m excited about this. The voting has begun and I am shamelessly asking for yours if you don’t mind. Thanks to all those who nominated! You deserve a cookie.

106 Responses to “There will be cookies”

  1. Trish

    Maybe time for another? no more mosquito behavior! Love the biccies and congrats on your nomination!
    Trish

    Reply
  2. B. Grow

    How do you get such clean white photos? These look amazing! I cannot wait to add this recipe to my many chocolate chip cookie recipes

    Reply
  3. MG Atwood

    It’s as old as times. You don’t know or appreciate what you have until it’s gone. Plain and simple. Babies are a joy, a wonder, and I do love them to pieces. I love my baby time, and hope that young mother’s can cherish their time, but they are tired, they have other things they long to do….so it shall be. Beautifully written post Miss Ashley!

    Reply
  4. Melanie

    Good-lord, the sight of those cookies sent off a chocolately-cookie craving frenzy in my brain!

    Aside from that, I’m currently in a place in my life where I’m preparing to have a baby myself, and it always good to read about other’s experience and expectations. Lovely writing.

    Reply
  5. Aimee

    This is so beautiful! My favorite line: “I remember holding him and sobbing, fearing that he would never understand how much I love him.” I have an 8-month old now and often find myself smiling but with tears streaming down my face. I know my daughter probably thinks I’ve lost it but I can’t help it. I literally love her so much it hurts.

    Reply
  6. andrea

    I loved this… I have always thought that other peoples children grow at a snails pace and mine at light speed. It is bittersweet.x

    Reply
  7. Kylee

    Beautifully written. As a new mother to a 4 month old, I hear all these things about enjoying him while he’s little. And I do. But I also feel quite free to NOT enjoy the sleepless nights, the crying and the neverending laundry pile.

    Wouldn’t trade it for the world though.

    Reply
  8. Kristyn

    This made me cry — so beautifully put. Thank you for sharing! I’m a first-time mom living through the challenge of reshaping myself into a more selfless being. It’s hard. I think I’ve earned some cookies! Guess I’ll start softening some butter.

    Reply
  9. victoria

    I do so look forward to when you publish a book, seriously, you manage to express perfectly emotions I myself hold so firmly with me most days. You’re right, it’s amazing that we don’t evolve in some ways, to recognise the fragility and temporary nature of the most wonderful moments in our life. Without being too down, one of my brothers became ill last year and died only 3 months after his diagnosis. I had lost my grandparents as a child, but they lived overseas so I had not known them and therefore the loss was not relevant to me. My brother though, losing someone also hones your feelings, your attitudes and all the cliches are true. Why do we have to actually appreciate loss to realise how lucky we are, that we should always make time for those we love and tell them and show them, and appreciate every day. I do, now, and will from here on, but it took losing a part of myself to truly understand.

    My own niece, who is 28, is having her first child next month, a daughter and I will become a great Aunt at 42. It seems crazy. I held her when she was born, babysat her and her sister one year older, dressed them up when I was but a child myself. My mother will become a great grandmother and it all begins again. I look nostalgically at new mothers around me, in awe of all they have in front of them, like you appreciating the marvel of it all. They are tired and worn down, I realise that, but that time never comes again, even with all the challenges you face. I will never again be the mother of a new baby, that part of my life is over and you can’t help but long, at times, for what you feel you’ve lost.

    Reply
  10. Whitney

    Thank you so much for this post. After a long day with my fussy 5 month old I was feeling guilty. Guilty for not being more patient, guilty for not anticipating his needs and being able to calm him down. I’m trying, and I’m learning. I’m enjoying the now, and also looking forward to the moment we can share a chocolate chip cookie.

    Reply
  11. Caroline @ Pink Basil

    I don’t have kids but I love this post! I feel that we all go through these periods of time in our life – first we’re rolling our eyes when people offer us advice, and then suddenly the very same words come out of our own mouths.

    either way, I think cookies make everything better :)

    Reply
  12. Andrea

    Thank you for this post. I am 16 weeks pregnant and full of an incredible mix of excitement and trepidation about motherhood. It’s always great to hear honest, loving reflections from someone who has been there, especially when cookies have played a central role!

    Reply
  13. Zel @ GOAB

    OMG that cookie looks divine! I’m not a mom and, to be honest, I don’t know if I will be in the near future. Regardless, I want to be that person with warm chocolate chip cookies on the kitchen counter.

    Reply
  14. Aung B

    Thank you so much for posting recipe. After a long frustrating day, I saw your post and started baking the cookies right away. When the entire apartment smells of cookies, it’s amazing! How do you make the cookies spread out almost flat? Mine turn out quite round and don’t have a lot of cracks. Was I supposed to leave them in the oven longer?

    Your posts make me want to bake and cook more. Truly thank you!

    Reply
  15. Kathleen

    Here, here to this post! I feel like I’m better at treasuring the moments with my youngest because I really do know how fleeting they are, yet it’s hard not to want them to grow-up when they pelt each other with hard toy trains or throw rocks at each other’s faces. You know, those sorts of things that may or may not have happened today. I will be baking these TOMORROW! Your cookies have never disappointed me!

    BTW, if you haven’t read this post, I think you’d really appreciate it. I immediately thought of it when reading yours. http://momastery.com/blog/2012/01/04/2011-lesson-2-dont-carpe-diem/

    Reply
  16. Dana

    This is so beautifully expressed Ashley. It is always good to know that someone out there, who you think is a very good mother, is facing many of the same challenges that I face. Just the other day I nearly broke down in QFC crying because, as I watched all the moms cooing and their chubby babies in seats of the grocery carts, I realized I’ll never be there again. 90% of the time I say hallelujah to that. But every so often I am hit with the fact that I had the tendency to wish it all away because of boredom, exhaustion, etc – and now I can’t get it back.

    Reply
  17. Margherita

    Let’s say it…those cookies look beyond unbelievable!!! Good choice in adding chocolate to the recipe. You can’t go wrong with dark chocolate!

    Reply
  18. amalia

    What a lovely post…so honest…and so genuine. I am a mommy of 3 littles….and am so grateful to be able to stay at home with them…but yes…some days can be exhausting, and many days I feel like I definitely wouldn’t earn Mommy of the Year awards…:) My oldest is turning EIGHT this month, though, and I have learned to appreciate the fleeting time I have with each of them when they are young. LOVE your cookies…I, too, love to have warm, homemade cookies ready for afternoon snacks…and funny…my mother had that very same recipe box….it is full of memories of baking with my mother when I was young!!!

    Reply
  19. Amy

    Thank you for sharing your story. I agree, we mothers do try to do it all and be it all. It is hard to admit that there are parts of mothering that we really do not like at all, that there are many moments where patience is nowhere to be found. But we are who we are, and our children choose us because of our struggles and our strengths. Thank you for reminding me that there is much to be said for a genuine act of sharing our passions (cookies!) with our children. Sometimes it’s the little things that stand out.

    Reply
  20. Linda

    Beautifully put. My babies are now 19, 21 and 28 and your post brought me right back to those wonderful, stressful, awesome, exasperating days… Each stage of parenting has its joys and troubles, but the journey overall is one I wouldn’t give up for anything.

    Reply
  21. Stephanie

    Ashley — this post is beautiful. I’m not a mother yet but reading these words encourages me to make the future journey my own. And, of course, to bake these cookies. :)

    Reply
  22. Luisa

    This is so, so, so lovely. I’m bookmarking it for June (July, August, September, October, etc, etc!)… :)

    Reply
  23. Lisa P

    Agree with everyone above… your words are beautiful and state everything I have felt as mom but can’t express so beautifully. BUT…

    OMG… your recipe box is mine exactly!!!! My gram gave it to me with my ‘starter’ recipes when I was 5! It was 1971!! I have no idea where she got the box and I will always treasure it!

    Reply
    • Ashley Rodriguez

      Lisa – Thanks for the kind words. That recipe box was just giften to me by my grandmother. What a treasure it is, right? Judging by the design and colors I’m not surprised at all that it was born in the 70’s.

      Reply
  24. Laura Dembowski

    These cookies look so amazing. Do you think I could make them with white baking chips instead of chocolate, because I’m allergic? Also you can find pasteurized shell eggs, so you don’t ever have to worry about eating raw eggs in the cookie dough. I love them; they’re all I bake with. If you’re interested, you can read about them on my blog: http://piesandplots.net/davidson-pasteurized-eggs/ And congratulations on the Saveur nomination : )

    Reply
  25. Tara

    Loved reading this and am going to link to this post on my weekend round-up post this week… thanks for putting yourself out there! And for the recipe :)

    Reply
  26. elena @3greenonions

    wow, this is the best thing I’ve read in a while, makes me so hopeful for what lies ahead and looking forward to the amnesia you refer to. Still somewhat buried in stinky diapers over here and the piercing whines (although mostly replaced by toddler’s shrieks of excitement as he rummages through my kitchen drawers) are on permanent echo in my mind…. Can’t wait to be on the giving end of all the unsolicited advice:) Thank you for this post! Love the cookies too. – long time reader, first time commenter:)

    Reply
  27. Christie {Pepper Lynn}

    I can definitely relate to feeling guilty for not loving every moment of motherhood, but I’m realizing lately that “loving it” isn’t necessarily the goal. This post reminds me to stop worrying about my to-do list and embrace this crazy, messy season of life (and to stop feeling guilty for the times I need a break from the crazy!).

    Reply
  28. Morgan

    Lovely post Ashley. I am a new mama and try my best to love the moments as they are and not wishing for them to be different somehow. So far I am doing pretty well at it too!

    Cookies are delish but I am with Aung B – mine are Super round and fluffy, not at all like the pictures you have here. Did I miss something? I followed your recipe to a T.

    Reply
  29. thelittleloaf

    Huge congratulations on your nomination, you must be so excited! These photos are absolutely mouthwatering – you manage to take the chocolate chip cookie to new heights!

    Reply
  30. Emily

    Wow ~ I am not a mother yet (still many years before that), but when it does happen, I hope I have this post bookmarked. So beautiful and so honest!

    emilyneurope.com

    Reply
  31. Mishti

    I’m going to make these cookies, just because they came from your Grandmom. And because I loved this post.

    PS: Of course you have my vote.

    Reply
  32. Tracy

    At 24, my only child is now the object of all of my longing for days when he felt totally mine. I have said to him that all of my eggs are in one basket – and he’s it. I have to work very hard at allowing him to go his own way and to make his own mistakes. I have found this to be the hardest phase of parenting for me. I suspect that he and I will both get through it though!

    Reply
  33. Amanda : Grace & Gusto

    “I released the burden of trying to be the mom that I am not and relished in the mom that I am.” I love this.

    I am currently pregnant with my first child, so this article made me tear up a little. You write beautifully. :)

    And the cookies look wonderful! I love anything with a toffee flavor.

    Reply
  34. Brian @ A Thought For Food

    So tender. I am not a parent and I’m not sure if that will change, but I am an uncle (a role I adore) and I know how wonderful those little moments can be. You are a delightful woman and a loving mother.

    Reply
    • Ashley Rodriguez

      Brian – You are such a sweet uncle. I feel this same way about my nieces and nephews. I want to develop a relationship with them while they are young but I’m so busy with my young kids. I hope to still be a special part of their lives. It’s an incredibly influential role.

      Reply
  35. Erin

    I love this so much. As a new mom myself and a baker who offers my son muffins and fresh baked cookies weekly, this touched me so much. Thank you for your beauty and strength. Go Momma!

    Reply
  36. Aimee @ Simple Bites

    I’d let you pinch my baby’s cheeks and compare her thighs to sausages – I do!

    I think you know how I feel on this subject; thank you for putting it into words so eloquently.

    Oh, and my mother has that recipe box! Now I want to track it down and steel it for my kitchen. =)

    Reply
    • Ashley Rodriguez

      Aimee – You must steal it! Seems like it was a popular recipe box as you are now the third person to say they had it. And please let me squeeze her sweet cheeks. All kids grow up fast but those third children really do.

      Reply
  37. Kathleen

    oh ashley, this morning i was crying to my husband about how i felt like i couldnt make it through today. a culmination of no baby naps and a week full of four year old meltdowns and i felt done. my husband just took the boys to starbucks so i could take a shower but i decided to sit for a second (imagine!) and i am so glad i did because i read your honesty. i have always loved your blog and found comfort in not only your food but your writing and honesty in motherhood. thank you again, you have brightened my morning, and now im softening some butter…

    Reply
    • Ashley Rodriguez

      Kathleen – Your comment meant the world too many. I can’t count how many times I cried to my husband saying that I couldn’t handle it. He gracefully swooped in and gave me some time to breathe. I am so honored that you found my words in that time. You are not alone and I am so proud of you for being able to voice your frustrations to your husband. I am sure he appreciated being able to love and serve you in that way.

      Reply
  38. Danielle

    wow what timing.. thank you for your post, just had my 3rd child who is 3 weeks today. And two other children 9 and 7.. and even tho everything is currently a blur a reminder to enjoy these days is so needed. thanks!

    Reply

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