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(by Kelly Wells)

One night, around 3 a.m., Ivy woke me up out of a deep sleep. She put her tiny rosebud lips next to my cheek and gave me a kiss, then laid her head on my shoulder.

“What’s up, baby girl?”

She sighed as she curled herself under my arm, her breathing already beginning to slow into a familiar sleepy rhythm. “Nothing. I just love you, Momma. I needed to tell you.”

Her sweetness hurts sometimes. I’m afraid I’m not sensitive enough to it. Like I’ll crush it the way an overzealous toddler clutches a butterfly.

I’m a single mom. Ivy’s Dad and I divorced when she was four, about four years ago. A while back, Ivy met a man I was dating and liked him a lot. She always warms to people quickly, as if she’s seeing the good in them that they may not even see in themselves. She was texting with him on my phone, sending him some of her artwork, when she asked me, “Can I tell Justin I love him and goodnight?” Justin and I had been dating for less than a year. I hadn’t even told him I loved him yet. It just didn’t seem…right. I was afraid he would think she was weird. “Let's not tell him that," I said, "but you can say goodnight.”

I could see in her eyes that she was hurt. Why shouldn’t she say “I love you?” We often seem so far removed from love; the vibration of it is almost imperceptible to some. Then we become parents. These tiny beings come into our lives—instant, overwhelming love—and we spend the rest of their lives teaching them when it’s okay to love and when it’s not, fueled by our own sad experiences.

I didn’t answer Ivy’s question well: "Just because, baby. We can talk about it another time.” I distracted her by suggesting that we pick a new coloring page to start the next day. She thumbed through the pages and stopped with absolute conviction. “Oh, this one.” Of course, she had chosen a page with a unicorn next to a rainbow surrounded by butterflies.

“Mommy!” Her eyes blazed with personal satisfaction. “I have the best idea. Tomorrow morning, let’s make rainbow waffles. I love making rainbow waffles. And I’m really good at it, aren’t I?” I laughed, half amused by her assertive confidence and half in awe of it.

“You’re the absolute best colorer of rainbow waffles that I’ve ever met.”

“I’m good at it because I love it,” she declared.

Her clarity of self always surprises me. And I think there was also a subtle message for me: to be softer, more open to bliss. Ivy would have us all live more in love—with life, with people…and definitely with rainbow waffles.


Kelly Wells is a relationship and career coach in Fairfield, California; she can be found at

Rainbow Waffles

2 eggs, whites and yolks separated

2 t. vanilla extract

1 c. buttermilk

1/4 c. butter melted

1 c. all-purpose flour

1 1/2 t. baking powder

1/2 t. baking soda

1 1/2 sugar

1/4 t. salt

food coloring

cooking spray

whipped cream

Preheat a round Belgian waffle iron.

Beat egg whites to stiff peaks. If using a stand mixer, carefully transfer to another bowl.

In a clean bowl, beat egg yolks, vanilla, buttermilk, and butter, until well blended.

Add flour, baking powder, baking soda, sugar, salt, combining well.

Spoon batter into six smaller bowls, adding a drop of food coloring to each, making 1/3 of the batter red, then decreasing amounts for orange, yellow, green, blue, and purple.

Fold portions of the whipped egg whites into each bowl in the same ratio.

Spray the waffle iron with cooking spray.

Spoon each batter into a Ziploc bag, cut off a small corner of each bag, and pipe the batter in circles around the waffle iron.

(Keep red on the outside, working inward to orange, yellow, green, blue, and purple.)

Keep the circles thin, as they will spread.

Cook for about three-quarters of the usual time (too much browning mutes the vibrant colors).

Garnish with whipped cream.


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