When my kids and I settled in to watch a movie last weekend, my daughter curled up beside me, snuggling in with a soft blanket tucked around both of us. Her soft, light brown hair tickled my neck.
She smells like whatever fruity body wash she’s been using, and emanates warmth — physical and emotional.
She’s 9, and growing so quickly. At lightning speed, she’s turned from that featherlight infant who wanted to be held by me constantly to a precocious toddler to a stage-loving, music-adoring, book-fanatic little girl. And I fear, if I blink too long, she’ll be a young woman, packing her suitcase to head to college.
So when she curls up next to me, like she does so often on the couch, I welcome it. I savor it. For now, even though she’ll soon be too tall for piggyback rides, she’s still my little, sweet, curious girl. My baby, though I’ve never been sure she’d really be my littlest forever.
Perhaps the hardest part of parenting is the natural push and pull of kids maturing. They are little but big, thoughtful but still childlike. And, if you do it right, they will want to leave your nest when they reach the end of high school — heading to college, exploring their world, building their own life.
My son is in middle school now, and he’s growing so fast too. I’m wistful. I want to stop time and revel in the people they are now. I don’t want this stage of our lives to end.
And so I hold onto the moments — the snuggles, the laughs, the games we play around our coffee table, the movies we enjoy together. Those are the things that matter most.
I also try to fill our bellies with nutritious foods. Salads, soups, veggie-laden pastas. But treats are great too. Treats bring smiles, excitement, joy … and they are the things that I will someday bake and send in care packages to wherever my kids end up.
Like these Butterscotch Chocolate Bars. This old family recipe comes from my late cousin Marianne, who lived in a dreamy house on Cape Cod. Each summer, my family would visit the cape for our annual family reunion at my late cousin Grace Louise’s house (also a dreamy dwelling). When I found Marianne’s recipe in our family cookbook years ago, I made it and fell in love with the rich, chocolatey bars that she made when her brothers and their families would visit (or so says the headnotes in the cookbooks).
These are so easy to mix by hand, right in the saucepan that you melt the butter in. And, once the batter is spread in a baking pan, they rise and bake to a gooey, rich wonderfulness. These are bars to share with loved ones, and the kind of thing you might just find yourself making again and again.
And why not? Time is so fleeting. Indulging a little, and soaking in the joy it brings, is so worth it.
- ½ cup unsalted butter
- 2 cups light brown sugar
- 2 large eggs, lightly beaten
- 1½ cups all purpose flour
- 2 tbsp baking powder
- 1 tsp kosher salt
- 1 tsp vanilla extract
- 2 cups dark chocolate chips
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
- In a small saucepan set over medium heat, melt the butter. Remove from heat and stir in the brown sugar. Remove from heat and cool slightly.
- Stir the eggs into the butter mixture.
- In a medium mixing bowl, sift together the flour, baking powder and salt. Add to the butter mixture and stir to combine. Add the vanilla extract and chocolate chips and stir again.
- Transfer the dough to a greased 9-by-13-inch glass baking pan. Spread out into an even layer.
- Bake for 25-30 minutes, until golden brown and cooked through. Cool completely before cutting into squares. Small squares are great for a crowd. Or larger ones are satisfying, too.