The last few days have been full of lots of home-cooking. A broccoli, swiss, and pepperjack quiche, an apple pie with oat, brown sugar, pecan and cranberry topping, baguettes, green beans, mashed potatoes (SERIOUSLY Ralph does a great job on these), pot roast and green beans, spaghetti and meatballs (in case you’re wondering, two days ago Phoenix emphatically lifted vegetarian requirements but suggests organic and/or ethical meat when we cook with it), butter broccoli, roasted garbanzo beans atop red and white basmati rice (again, Ralph nailed this one) with an attendant fresh-veggie tray, salad with butter lettuce and cherry tomatoes that burst in one’s mouth, sweet tea and our usual hot coffee, ice cold Red Hook beer.
I struggle with occasional experiences of guilt when it comes to my kids and their care – food is an aspect of that care and it’s hard to feel daily okay about my efforts (unless you’ve been a mom you may not fully understand – not that every mom necessarily does, either). In a more balanced vein, the part of me that feels genuinely Me instead of feeling under pressure, one of my pleasures in life is to cook for those who enjoy the food provided; there is an additional pleasure I get in seeing my kids devour everything on their plates (which they don’t always do, but for instance they did tonight). I think it’s a pretty simple thing, really. Their bodies and minds are strong and beautiful and growing; their robust appetite reminds me of this and feels like an odd sense of security and love. I also genuinely enjoy it when I’m able to provide someone with the exact thing they want, and my family loves what I provide. My kids tell me fresh bread or lemon asparagus or frijoles refritos or hardboiled eggs and carrot sticks or bÃºn thá»‹t xÃ o; I can make it happen as if by magic, and always with love.
Tonight I worked right up until I realized it was long time for me to rest. I wanted to be brave enough to not do the dishes (Ralph almost always does them but tonight he watched a movie with me instead). But, no dice, becuase once I get an idea in my head it’s hard to let it go. Just after 4 AM I washed dishes and wiped counters and made some new sweet tea for Ralph tomorrow but soon l I felt genuinely beat, and I still had more work to do. I followed the kids through their bath and picked up bath toys and re-sorted tidied the living room…
and got a cold beer and came to bed and turned on a ghost television show on Netflix …
And now? Close the laptop and take a few minutes with the kiddos before Slumbertown, Population: Us.
I get the need to appear not just competent, but rather amazing on the food front. Many an evening have I finished cooking and been making plates up for everybody when a scene from my baby shower pops into my head. My mother-in-law and her friends all sitting around BRAGGING about how their mothers never ever sat down to a hot meal as they were always too busy taking care of everyone else. Mostly this causes me to chuckle and be thankful that in this family, we all take care of each other rather than one person being responsible for everybody else’s well-being. However I occasionally get a twinge of guilt or shame, the feeling that my fare is too simple, or not healthy enough, or that I haven’t quite made enough of it, or that I should do the dishes right away, or, or.. Well, you know. There are just so many things we could be doing better, no matter how much crap we pile on ourselves.
ZOMG. Your anecdote is priceless. And common! I’ve noticed in the “legendary” stories of mothers, grandmothers etc. positively-framed stories are often about selfless service or some stuff she did FOR other people. Positively-framed family legends of patriarchs – fathers, grandfathers etc. – usually serve to illustrate some admirable trait or quality of the man himself.
I’ve been thinking about writing about some of the family stuff I got from my FOO. My intention wouldn’t be to ass them out, but to write about how painful it was, to articulate it fully (writing always helps me process that). I know other people would recognize that stuff.
Thank you for your comment.
Your comments brought to mind this scene from Tampopo, which amazingly was already available at youTube: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iZJAb9hXXaI
It involves the elements of love, duty, food, and death, if you haven’t seen the film.
That video was nuts. Funny and heartbreaking at the same time and so hard to watch. I’m going to have to find that movie in its entirety. I loved the expression on that dude’s face when she gets up from her deathbed and starts making dinner, like, “WTF? I can’t believe that actually worked.”
Best vid so far yet posted in the comments at kelly.hogaboom.org. Your trophy will be mailed to you.
I’m expecting your broccoli,swiss pepperjack quiche by post any moment…
I think that scene was really well played by the main actress (sorry to say I do not yet know her name as the film is made of many vignettes with a very large cast). For me the most touching moment is when she looses her footing in the doorway carrying the wok full of hot food and then momentarily regains her cheerful, happy hostess composure- It’s almost literally a split-second expression at 1:47.
I can’t get over how intense that video was. I had to watch it twice.