In my 20s, I started making pancakes on Sunday morning. It became a tradition. Whenever I make Sunday morning pancakes, I think back to being young, newly wed, and poor, and bringing pancakes and coffee to my wife in bed, which was only a mattress on the floor of a tiny studio apartment.
In my 30s, I had young children who were excited about pancakes in the morning — they wanted chocolate chips in them or for them to be made in the shape of Mickey Mouse. Whenever I make Sunday morning pancakes, I think back to being young parents with little kids who would giggle over a special breakfast.
In my 40s, the kids were becoming teenagers, and sleeping until noon was what they wanted to do on Sunday mornings, and I made Sunday morning pancakes less and less frequently, and most often it was just for one or two kids at a time — a quiet breakfast together. Now when I make Sunday morning pancakes, I think back with pride in young independent people we’d managed to raise.
In my 50s, the kids were moving out, we were alone again. I made pancakes less often. When I did make them, every time I’d be thinking about what Alaric & Connlann & Skatje were doing, far far away. Those were lonely, wistful pancakes.
In my 60s now, I made Sunday morning pancakes and coffee and brought them to my wife in bed, and I thought all of those memories at once — I was an old man in a mostly empty house, I was a father to a very serious teenager, I was the parent of a small swarm of adorable little kids, I was a newly wed student, I was all of these people.
I think this is what getting older means. Everything, every little thing, even making pancakes, begins to reverberate in your head and floods you with meaning.
Also, it means I’m well practiced and really, really good at making perfect pancakes.