I wonder what it feels like to be you. To move around your kitchen like a saint, orchestrating a meal fit for the body, if you consider the body a temple. To measure amounts, mix solutions, cut pieces, pour liquids. To move like music. Deliberate, with tempo — and for a sum that is greater than its parts. You feed your children from your own two hands seven days a week. You are the mom I'll never be.
I maybe make a proper dinner once in that time.
You show me what is possible, if only I took myself to task. You show me what I could be. If I got more organized and spent more time on prep – what a better mother I could be. I believe you are a better mother than me. I know you are a better mother than me.
Still. I will never be anything like you.
All day long, I try to trap life. To turn it into something of pure joy. I love to read and watch movies and write — and to sit in front of a sunny window and walk long, long walks. Walks on paved trails, walks in the woods, walks through the town and the neighborhood.
There are so many things I love to do and I can’t find the time to fit them all in. So to add another thing — as valuable as it may be — just doesn’t suit me. I’m going to be many things as a mother, but I am not going to be a mother who cooks. A mother who my son will remember with an apron on or even with potholders on her hands. He will remember me much more out of doors than he remembers me in them.
The repercussions are not insignificant. He will eat more frozen food that I want him to. More takeout, too. We will invite ourselves over to other people’s homes as often as we can and we will make hodgepodge dinners a recurring theme in ours. I will pray that the experiences we have will offset the loss. The loss of a mother who cooks – who feeds you.
They say that history repeats itself. I testify that this is true. My mother didn’t cook for us much, and neither did her mother for her. We do what we know to do.
I didn’t resent my mother when I was young. I didn’t know other people’s houses were different until I hit junior high, or high school. I started paying attention to the joy I felt when I was being served something homemade. How loved I felt. And then resentment awoke in me. Why didn’t she make me things? It can’t be that hard. Other mothers do it!
So you would think that I would find a way to change. But I can’t seem to. I wake up with the best of intentions, and devise a detailed plan to accomplish everything I need or deeply want in a day. I chart out time for my job(s), and the required day’s tasks, but not only does meal prep get buried, often the consumption of meals does, too. I ate a bag of chips in a car for lunch today. I just didn’t have the time or the energy for anything more. (I would not recommend this to anyone. Potato chips are more like paper chips thanfuel. If you’re looking for a carb heavy snack to turn into a meal, go thick-cut French fries or a hearty piece of bread. Don’t play around with these flat bores.)
Sometimes, on a Sunday, I will tag recipes for the week and write out a little half-assed grocery list, assuming I’ll go back and complete it before hitting the store. Then Tuesday rolls around and I’m walking through the isles with an incomplete list, so I grab popcorn, beer, eggs, apples and cottage cheese. (The first two are for me; the last three for the young one. It’s not what I would call a fancy meal, but it’s certainly makes a meal. Three things! Three things!)
I’m going to set my sights on the future. Maybe I can manage another day or two. I will never be someone who cooks seven days a week – or probably even four. I will work and read and write all day, and you will find me at dusk, walking with my child on a nature trail. We will come home hungry and eat whatever we can find. I hope to nurture a part of him that needs to be fed in that way, too.
Check out Romper's new video series, Bearing The Motherload, where disagreeing parents from different sides of an issue sit down with a mediator and talk about how to support (and not judge) each other’s parenting perspectives. New episodes air Mondays on Facebook.