I’ve always known my mother was strong. She can carry four boxes when others carry two. She can cut up a whole chicken in sixty seconds flat, will work longer and harder than women half her age. And when you’ve sat down to take a break, she’ll still be going. She can take command of a borderline out-of-control situation and keep her calm when it reaches a boiling point.
She’s built a career based on her passion and during this thirty-year journey, many people have told her no. Yet she has always found a way to make it a yes. In addition to her career, she was essentially a stay-at-home-mom when we were young and has become a super-engaged friend-like mom as we’ve grown older. She’s also been the wife of my father for thirty-five years, and if you’ve ever known a pastor’s wife, you know it takes a superwoman to do that job with grace and blessing.
She’s not squeamish, shy, or easily embarrassed. She’ll talk to you about anything. But she’s strong enough to take it from fluff-talk to real-talk the minute you shy away from reality. She’ll give the solid, sagely, and brutally honest advice of a woman who has boldly lived a life based in faith, truth, and integrity.
I am always wildly proud of how strong she is because I know that I (Taurus Maggy) get so much of who I am from her. Thank goodness for that.
But in the past few weeks my mother has shown her strength in ways that I have not seen in my thirty years as her daughter. She has shown her strength in ways that I’d never wish to see, but sometimes life gets harder than you thought it could, would, or should. Mom is an only child, and both her parents are in failing health. My grandmother has cancer and has been beaten down pretty badly by the chemo (then two weeks ago she fell and broke her pelvis), and my grandfather has slipped into Alzheimers so rapidly it has stunned us. As I write this, my grandfather is clinging to life in an ICU unit. When word came of his swift turn for the worse, mom got on a plane and headed once again to Florida. In the midst of a demanding career, she has somehow found the strength to be a devoted daughter—but I don’t know how.
Most Mother’s Day we’d get together and cook a wonderful meal and celebrate the woman she is and the women she has taught Sharon and me to be. But we won’t be able to do it that way this year, even though now is when she needs it most. My wish for her is that we could help alleviate the stresses of the past few weeks. I’d want her to sleep in, go to yoga, and enjoy a lovingly prepared meal. I’d want to go for a walk in the early evening with her, enjoy a glass of wine on the deck, and laugh carelessly as we stood and watched dinner cook on the grill.
But that won’t happen this year. Because when others have stepped out and said they’ve had enough, she will still be going strong, putting her head down, and getting through all this. This time will pass, as the ups and downs of life always do. And we’ll be there for all of it. Because that’s what families do. And we will ultimately take a long, deep breath and create a moment to celebrate the rock that she is for us and so many others.
Like last Mother’s Day, we partnered with KitchenAid on their Mother’s Day ‘Cook for the Cure’ program, this time featuring their Flamingo Pink handmixer and our wildly dreamy Chocolate-Coconut Cupcakes. When we created these cupcakes a couple weeks ago, I had every intention of writing a lighthearted post about our wonderful mother to accompany the recipe, but I’m glad I wrote this one. Because I know there are a lot of folks out there who will have a tough time this Mother’s Day for any number of reasons. And this year we are one of those families.
- 1½ cups all-purpose flour
- ¾ teaspoon baking soda
- ½ teaspoon salt
- ½ cup, plus ⅓ cup unsweetened cocoa divided
- ½ cup boiling water
- ⅓ cup sour cream
- ¾ teaspoon vanilla extract
- 12 tablespoons butter, softened
- 1½ cups sugar
- 3 large eggs, at room temperature
- 1 can (13.5 ounces) regular (not light) coconut milk, fat and liquid separated
- ⅓ confectioners sugar
- ¼ teaspoon coconut extract
- 1 drop red food coloring
- ½ cup sweetened flaked coconut
- Adjust oven rack to lower-middle position and heat oven to 400 degrees. Line a 12-cup muffin tin with cupcake papers; spray with vegetable cooking spray.
- Whisk flour, baking soda, and salt in a medium bowl; set aside. Measure ½ cup cocoa in a medium bowl. Whisk in water to form a smooth thick paste. Stir in sour cream and vanilla; set aside.
- With a hand mixer, beat butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Beat in eggs, one at a time. Starting and ending with dry ingredients, alternate adding chocolate mixture and flour, beating until each is thoroughly incorporated.
- Evenly divide batter among prepared muffin cups. Bake until fully set, about 20 minutes. Remove from oven, let cupcakes stand a couple of minutes; turn onto a wire rack to cool.
- Meanwhile, with a hand mixer, beat coconut milk fat with a hand mixer, beat in confectioner’s sugar and remaining ⅓ cup cocoa powder, and coconut extract until light and fluffy, Beat in coconut milk liquid, 1 tablespoon at a time, to desired consistency. Thoroughly mix food coloring and coconut until coconut is evenly pale pink. Frost cup cakes and then sprinkle with coconut. Serve.