Sometimes I feel like I am just playing house. That I really have no idea how to raise children and be a mom, so I just "act" like I know what I'm doing. Other times a wave of nostalgia warms over me and I feel not only like a mom but like my mom. Strong, loving, fun, capable, and prepared.
It happened yesterday. After stewing in my stubborn juices all day I actually started to crave some beef stew. And seeing how the cool fall weather has set in I thought it would be perfect timing. Well, that and it was also sort of a peace offering too, if I'm honest. I was kind of harsh when Todd came home at lunch and tried to hug my annoyance away so the least I could do was to make one of his favorite meals. So, beef stew it was.
I went about browning the meat in my huge cast iron pot, remembering how my mom had shown me when she made it for us after I brought Ben home from the hospital. I added the water and spices, tasting as I went. I peeled and cut the potatoes and carrots. Chopped the onions and celery. And as the aroma filled the kitchen I was transported back to my childhood where the same exact scenario played out. Only it was my mother at the stove. In my mind's eye I could see the way the light slanted in the dining room windows as I watched from the kitchen doorway. I could hear Ella, Frank, Nat, and Dean singing in the background with my mother's soprano accompanying them. The smell of my own stew takes me back so easily and I am coated in a blanket of warm fuzzies feeling the safety and love of my childhood.
Now I am the woman in front of the stove. I am the mom. It is my turn to nourish, care for, love, and protect. The meals I make now will be remembered when my boys get older. They'll have favorites they will request on their birthdays just as I did. They will come home from college crossing their fingers that a plate of cookies will be waiting on the counter and my crispy chicken in the oven.
Strange how smell can bring back such strong memories. And it really isn't about the food. It is about the love in the food. And the love of family sharing that food. When I think back on all the wonderful meals my mom has made I automatically think of our large family gathered around the table, talking, laughing, and eating together. With the food comes magic moments and memories you hang onto all your life.
I hope I am creating as many warm memories for my boys as my mother did for me. I hope when they look back at our family dinners around the table they remember the laughter and the stories, and maybe forget about all the, "Tommy eat!", "Joey sit down!", "You LIKE stew!", "You LIKE carrots!" I guess I am hoping that because I have all of my mother's best recipes, and the same delicious aromas are filling my kitchen as they did hers, that my boys will naturally have fond memories too. And maybe years down the road when they smell these same dinners again they will immediately warm with thoughts of their own happy, safe, fun, and loving childhood.