Weekend Recap and Chicken with Lemon Pan Sauce
Y’all, I parented hard this weekend. And I don’t mean social media worthy parenting, neither. I mean busy, messy, happy, sad, all over the roadmap parenting. But then again, despite what Pinterest wants us to believe, isn’t all parenting just a compilation reel of big and small messy, bipolar minutes?
But maybe that’s just me.
This weekend my baby turned 7. Let me write that again so it sinks in. My baby turned SEVEN. This child, who just yesterday was a tiny, smiling baby with no hair and huge dimples, is now a certifiable human person with her own opinions, feelings and fashion sense (God help us all). I was so excited to celebrate her on her special day. I’m so proud of the sweet, sassy vibrant little thing that she’s become. But when another year passes and she gets closer to the messy of life, out of the bubble of beautiful childhood, I want to scream “NO! STOP! Stay where you are!”
And I ask myself…why does she have to grow so quickly? Why can’t she stay little where life is easy? Where it is more comfortable?
And then I watched Connor hop on a bus with a group of 40 complete strangers to go to a camp he has never been to to do things he has never done. I packed up his suitcase with tears and nerves. I secretly cursed myself for saying “yes” and for agreeing to let him do this. I wanted to scream “NO! STOP!” as the bus drove off. But I didn’t. I knew logically that he would make life-changing discoveries at Camp Amigo (a non-profit camp put on by Childrens Hospital CranioFacial clinic). I knew that he would come back more empathetic, molded somehow by the experience of being surrounded by others who have also gone through the trials that he has in his short life. Sometimes to a lesser extent, oftentimes, much greater. And I knew that this experience would answer, better than I ever could, the question that breaks my heart “Why me? Why do I have to go through this?”
I knew all of this, but it was still torture. I am so grateful he went. But I still ask myself, why can’t he just stay home with me? Where it’s safe? Where it’s comfortable?
And finally, I watched my oldest son make his baseball pitching debut. In his second baseball game. EVER. And it was awesome. He threw some strikes. And a lot of balls. He even did something called a “balk,” which if you’re like me, you don’t ever hope to understand, but you know it’s a no-no. But he battled through. I watched his little shoulders slump after a series of particularly terrible pitches. I watched with my heart in my throat as he walked back to the pitchers mound fighting an internal fight that I could almost see being played out in his body language. I wanted to run out to the mound, and scream “NO! STOP!” and beg the coach to put in another pitcher. But I didn’t. And I died a little inside each time the ball left his hands. Why? Not because I care whether he’s a good pitcher or not, because I really don’t. But because HE cares. Because when his shoulders slumped, my heart dropped. Because his pain hurts me because some pain a mommy can’t make better.
And I ask myself, why couldn’t he just stay at third base? Where he’s good? Where it’s comfortable?
But we all know the answer to these questions, don’t we? That life lived comfortably quickly becomes life not really lived at all. That the best stuff always happens in the uncomfortable, the change comes from that friction. Why do kids seem to understand this so much better than adults? Or maybe just better than me? I sometimes find myself thinking that if something is meant to be, it wouldn’t be hard, or scary, or rife with failure. Maybe that’s a product of the societal mindset, but at the slightest hint of discomfort I begin to doubt God’s hand in the plan. But why do I think that? Who said this is true? Surely not God. I’m no biblical scholar, but I know enough to know that God pretty much guarantees that life is going to be filled with struggles. And if it’s not, you’re doing it wrong. The biggest heroes of the Bible are heroes because of the things they did in the uncomfortable. God didn’t tap Noah on the shoulder and say “Hey, Noah. I’ve got this plan. I need you to make this ark and live on it for a few years with a ton of animals. But don’t worry. It’ll be a piece of cake. I guarantee it.” I’ve got one dog. ONE. And you couldn’t pay me to live on a boat with her for a few years. Uncomfortable is an understatement.
In fact, the greatest story ever told is one filled with action in the face of discomfort. Jesus lived his entire life challenging us to be out of the comfortable. To live for him is to live uncomfortable at times and he walked the walk to show the way. I don’t think God said to Jesus, “Hey Son. I’m going to need you to do this defeating death thing. But don’t worry, it’ll be totally comfortable the whole way through.”
And we all know how that one ends.
Because real life, victory and defeat, happen when we step outside of our comfort zones and take a risk. Big or small. When we say yes, even when we’re terrified. And isn’t that what we want for our kids? A real life full of “YES” instead of “No! STOP!”
Yes, as a parent that’s what we want. But yes, as a parent this hurts. It chafes against our natural instinct to protect. I want to take on their hurt, their pain, their discomfort. But the truth of life is that I can’t. I can’t walk their walk, they have to do it. And I want them to live BIG lives. HUGE lives. So, even when they’re young, I can’t scream “NO! STOP!”
I have to let them go.
And huge things happened for all of them. Kenzie has a whole new year of life to open up to. To learn, grow and explore being 7. I’m so excited for her. Connor learned that he is braver than he ever thought possible. And he learned that he’s not alone. That some people have it worse than him. And that they’re all going to be just fine despite of that. And Dillon learned to keep going. To walk back to the mound, and throw another pitch. To move past the failure. Because the victory will come with time, and it will be so much sweeter then.
So last night, with my family all together again, I paid tribute to my mom with dinner. My mom who had reason to scream “NO! STOP!” so many times in my life, but never did. Who let me sprout my own wings and move to New York right after college. That let me move into an apartment in a building covered in crime scene tape (true story). And never once screamed “NO STOP!”
I made her lemon chicken that has now become my lemon chicken. We ate this in solid rotation growing up. And I’m not going to lie, I think we complained about it. A lot. Not because it’s bad, it’s actually delicious. But because we were kids and we were jerks at times. Truth. And now I make it for my family. It’s quick. It’s easy. But it’s so good that it happens to be one of the few chicken recipes that my kids will eat that doesn’t end in the word “nugget.” And it’s my moms.
- 4 small boneless, skinless chicken breasts. I sometimes take 2 larger ones and butterfly them to make 4. They cook quicker that way.
- 3 Tbsp All-Purpose Flour
- 1 small onion, chopped
- the Juice of one lemon
- 1 Tbsp fresh thyme, leaves removed from stems and finely chopped
- 2 cups chicken broth
- 2 Tbsp Olive Oil
- 1 Tbsp Butter
- Salt and Pepper
Place the flour in a large ziploc bag, season with salt and pepper. Add chicken, close tightly, and shake to coat.
Heat 1 Tbsp Oil in large skillet until hot. Remove the chicken from the flour using tongs, reserving the remaining for later. Add chicken to the pan and cook, 5 minutes or so to a side, until they are golden brown. Remove to a plate, keeping the frond in the pan.
Add the remaining oil and butter to the skillet, and once the butter is melted, add the onions and thyme. Cook for 2-3 minutes until softened and fragrant.
Add the flour to the onion and cook, 2-3 minutes. Pour in the chicken stock and lemon juice, bringing to a boil while scraping up the good stuff from the bottom of the pan. Reduce to a simmer.
Place the chicken breasts back in the pain, nestling in the sauce, and cook until chicken is cooked through and sauce has thickened, 15-20 minutes.
Taste, adding salt and pepper as needed. Garnish with some extra thyme.
We like this served best over egg noodle in our house. But rice would do as well. The sauce is yummy, you just want something to soak up the flavor.