If you know me at all, you know that I have a major control issue when it comes to my kitchen…
It starts at the market, both with sourcing my food and then bagging my purchases. Don’t you dare try to help me bag my groceries or I might melt down. It continues to all aspects of the kitchen, including loading and un-loading the dishwasher. I have gotten better over the years, even allowing my husband to do prep work for grilling, but I am always giving a “bitchy” look I’m sure.
Even when I have asked the kids to help out or come learn something new, my need to control and make sure everything is done just so, has lead them to suggest I just do it myself; they’ve actually just taken a seat at the counter and watched.
When the twins were juniors in high school, I realized I was really screwing them out of an opportunity to learn something I truly loved and they were going to need very soon in their lives. And, isn’t that really a mom’s job? So, I loosened up some, bought a few new pots and pans, and we were off…
I will admit I was not that good at it to begin with. This was also the time we moved from a full blown nanny/housekeeper to a house manager and the house manager we had was not a great cook. So, when David and I traveled, the twins actually took charge of their own meals.
Jennifer and Emily did shopping and prep and clean up when we were gone, but the twins enjoyed cooking and honestly, I think they had fun. So, although they were not truly in the kitchen with me very much, I guess they learned from watching. Truth is, they spent more time at my kitchen counter than most other places in the house.
Well, then they were gone. Their first year in college, there was no real need for either of them to cook with the dining halls, but then it happened. First to Sam. He went to Puerto Rico with the swim and dive team (granted he was the dive team) with Brandeis for winter break. After his first call home and first text message picture, I knew he heard all that I said over the years.
Each group of kids was given a budget and sent to the market. After a quick look in the kitchen at their apartment, Sam took charge and first things first, he bought himself a pan (with his own money, okay our money). When I asked him why, he said because the ones there were in really bad shape and I always said, start with a good pan. He took charge of cooking with another swimmer for their group and they ate well.
But cooking shirtless…I mean what is it with boys? Why are they always shirtless? So, my Mom-Fail of not being welcoming in the kitchen or I’ll say it, being controlling, turned out okay for Sam. And, he still has the pan. He has used it often in the community “kitchen” when Dad sends steaks to share with his friends or when he has to cook before the dining hall opens.
But, what about Sydney. Her story is a bit different…
She headed off her first year to Skidmore where the dining hall has won the college cooking challenge year after year and they have a student run garden that sells the produce to the dining hall. I mean, when we went to visit her, we loved to eat there. But life changed for her and she realized she needed to get to New York City to dance. It was now or never, so she took the year off from school and we packed her up to move into a tiny and I MEAN TINY, studio apartment. She has a tiny sink, one electric burner, and an under the counter refrigerator.
Did I mention she is a dancer and although she has a very healthy food budget and could eat out 2 times a day, she still comes in well under budget. But, she is first my child and second an athlete. So, every Sunday after early morning rehearsal, she heads to the market with her recipes and list in hand to buy her groceries.
That is where this mom fail is my win. You see, she still needs me! She needs me many times when she is shopping to ask if she should get this or that. Or she has a question about the amount she should buy or one of many other questions. My mom-fail is a bonus for me as I get to talk to her at least 1 or 2 times when she is at the market.
It does not stop there; it gets even better. Once she is home and starts prepping and cooking for the week (which she also learned from the many Sundays at my kitchen counter) something special happen and it is called FaceTime!
We often are in the kitchen on Sundays at the same time, but in different time zones… Honestly, it’s one of the highlights of my week. For 18 years, these kids sat in my kitchen while I prepped, cooked, and we ate. They were there doing homework, late at night after practices, and with friends (I was the mom who made lunch for everyone). Then, all of a sudden they were gone!
But, now on Sundays, not every one mind you, but enough to make me very happy, Sydney and I FaceTime as we both work in the kitchen. Often, she tilts her phone to the pan to ask if something is ready to flip or if it looks cooked, but more often than not, we just chat. When we wrap up, we hang up and I cry a few minutes; a mixture of happy and sad tears. Happy, for not teaching her as much as I should have, so we have this precious time together. Sad, that I was so controlling and sad, because I really miss both of them, oh, so much!
Just when you think you have failed your kids, you find a benefit gained in that failure. They say that through failure you learn or something like that…
I am a home cook that does things my way. In my kitchen, I make breakfast, pack lunches, prepare snacks, and cook dinner. During the week, we eat real food that is homemade, organic, and local. On the weekends we do explore more of our local restaurants. I bake my own bread, juice fresh oranges every other day, and make my own kombucha and other weekly favorites.