Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Becoming Mom

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.

51 comments:

Feener said...

my mom made what we called autumn soup, and she would serve it in this soup tureen I can still see in my mind....

Mom24 said...

That's so beautiful. Isn't it funny how we can feel like we're just practicing, not really doing it yet, and yet they're absorbing everything and we're making memories even when we don't know we are.

Debbie in CA : ) said...

What a blessing those memories are for you. Though I didn't come from a cookies-on-the-counter kinda childhood, I made SURE that my kids did/do! I've often wondered if I have succeeded in giving to my children what I lacked ... my daughter away at college validates that every time she is home. On the phone recently she bemoaned the lack of my cooking and the great aroma of dinner simmering away. BIG GOLD STAR for my curious heart.

You go girl! Keep building in all that wonderful nostalgia for mom, home, and beef stew. Your boys may not thank you now but they will some day, trust me.

p.s.
Hope all is resolved after the hugs + stew. ; )

Jenera said...

What a beautiful post! I have felt the same way where I am just playing at being a mom-and a wife-like it's some huge play. I feel like I don't measure up to the ideal mother.

But then there are times when all works well and we're cuddled up at home and my kid gives me that 'look' or a hug and it takes me back to happy times and I know we'll be okay.

:)

Jenmomof4 said...

Looks yummy! I love it when I put a pot roast in the crock pot or my taco soup. The whole house feels warm and homey.

Jessica (a.k.a. Mom) said...

That photo made my tummy growl! Can you share the family recipe?

I definitely feel like I'm just playing sometimes. Like I'll wake up one of these days and the dress rehearsal will be over. Other days I'm so confident I surprise myself.

Don Mills Diva said...

This was beautiful Kathryn. I sometimes think about how the things I do now will be touchstones of Graham's childhood - the dinners I always make, the phrases I always use, my habits. It's thrilling, but a little scary...

Liza said...

This was an awesome post. I could picture it perfectly in my head you described it so well. And I wish for the same things for my kids. Thanks for such a great tribute to moms everywhere!

Candy said...

yummy!

what a great idea!!

lime said...

yum, glad the other sort of stewing is over.
smells really do take us right back don't they?

Stephanie said...

Besides being very hungry for beef stew and wishing you posted the recipe here, I am very moved by this post. Doesn't it sometimes seem we are very different people when we actually stop to think of it. I too hope that I am making wonderful memories and will continue to do so as our family grows...

Dawn said...

That was so beautiful. You touched on many of the same reasons I love to cook for my family. I wish my mom would have cooked and passed recipes down to me, but it just wasn't an interest of hers, even though she was a good mom.

Lindsay said...

Okay - so now maybe you could send out a recipe for that nummy lookin' stew?! Perhaps you should join me on a Tasty Tuesday!

Thanks for the nice comments. I kinda like making new headers and goofing around like that! Nerd alert. But it makes me feel, well, NOT thirty for some odd reason....cuz I'm a 30 year old who can do "code." LOL!

Elaine A. said...

Oh, I do love this post...
My mother is such a wonderful cook and this just made me think of all the tasty meals she's made and continues to make.

It is amazing how the sense of smell can just take us back...

Oh and that looks DELICIOUS!! : )

Jeni said...

First of, Kiddo -none of us "knows" how to parent when you come right down to it. We're all just flying by the seat of our pants in Motherhood/parenthood. Well, that's my theory anyway and I've been trying to practice at this job for over 41 years now. Maybe with the grandkids, I'll do a better job -less stress with them than there ever was raising my own three hellions!
But I loved this post and your words that it isn't necessarily the food on the table -which could be absolutely fantastic at times and now and again, the stuff a bit burned or not so hot, but it is the family, around the table, the comments -with my kids, more often than not it is the sarcasm, the gentle needling and picking on each other that binds us together better than any food ever fixed can do! And you also took me back in time to memorable events around the dining room table as a kid, holidays with many of my aunts and uncles and my cousins here with my grandparents riding herd on all of us. Joyful occasions they all were. Made me realize how much I miss those beautiful people who were such a huge part of my life for so many years and it is my hope that feelings like that are what will be left behind for my kids, my grandkids, long after I have passed on. I'd say you're doing a great job of providing the right kind of atmosphere for your husband and the boys that they will look back with much warmth in their hearts filled with the love you have instilled there.

Kathryn said...

Hey y'all-
I was going to post the recipe and then decided against it when my instructions sounded like this:

Brown the meat until the sizzling turns to popping sounds.
Add water. I don't really know how much.
Add Oregano, Parsley, Salt, Pepper, Garlic Powder, a Bay Leaf, Celery Salt and Onion Powder until you think it tastes right.
Cover and simmer for an hour.
Add as many potatoes, carrots, celery and onions as you want. Cook for another 30-45 minutes or until you think it is done.

Know what I mean? It would have been so annoying. You all would have been like, what the frig kind of a recipe is that??
It is just one of those that I had to watch my mom do and then tried to copy her. Ya just gotta see it. ;)

Lisa said...

Kathryn,
No time to comment on all of the posts as my monkeys are awake WAY before they should be....but I loved them all and think you're fabulous! Hope you & Todd are talking, the open house was fabulous, and your boys surely know that you are one fabulous mama!!!

Kristen said...

Just that fact that you are thinking about what your boys will remember, proves that you are doing things that they WILL remember!! You are a fabulous Mama and all of us out there can clearly see it! :)

The beef stew looks delish, and I LOVE your recipe!! I can actually picture it! Hope it helped to mend some fences yesterday.....

Hugs!

Kelly said...

Mmmm, beef stew sounds good. I love making various homemade soups (I don't use a recipe, just do it my way!) and have been in the mood to cook.
There are certain foods that take me back to childhood too. I always wonder while we sit at the dinner table and discuss our day and eat our meal together, if the kids will look back on that fondly someday. I sure hope so

Cheri @ Blog This Mom! said...

You're not just creating warm memories for your children in your home, you're preserving them forever on your blog.

What a lovely post. Now, ahem, the recipe please?

Robyn said...

It is lasagna for me. I know exactly how you feel. Some days, I just wish we could get the whole family around the table.

Beck said...

Lovely post!
I never feel more like a mother than when I have to do something gross, like help a sick child clean up - because that is something that only a mother would willingly do.

RiverPoet said...

Mmmmm, I can almost smell the stew... I used to make beef stew like my mother did, but my family never got into it. I would end up eating the last few, sad bowls alone. Finally I realized that they'd all be happier if I made my famous chili. So that's what I do on cold days now.

The memories? The boys will have them. They'll associate the aroma of beef stew forever with their mom.

Peace - D

Octamom said...

Love this! And you're so right--it is amazing, the little things, the scent of a favorite dish, the warm bite into a favorite cookie, that somehow speak home and memory--just beautiful!

Blessings!

DysFUNctional Mom said...

Your posts so often strike a chord with me. The 'playing' mommy, and the beef stew, and making memories. I use my mom's recipe too, and it always takes me back in time. And I often think of what little things my kids will remember about their childhood, those little things you have no idea will stand out but somehow they do.
I loved this post!!

Louise said...

This is a beautiful post. And I totally relate to the begin about feeling like you're just playing mom. I always wonder if my parents really felt grown-up, or if they were just pretending, too. The rest of the post is simply heartwarming.

susiej said...

Wow. That was lovely... and I'll be right over to have some of your "mothering." I love the stew... with stewing. And, I would love to say I feel the same way... exactly that my boys wouldn't eat that. That always ruins everything!

beth said...

What a wonderful vision of being a mom you create. I wish and hope for the same thing for my girls.

CC said...

I love those memories. And the traditions. I hope that we are creating great memories and traditions for our kids...

Rachel said...

Kat, that was wonderful.
I often feel like an imposter, or a kid just playing house ;-)

I love stew and can't wait to heat up my cast iron and make some! Of course I have to wait for the temperature to get below 85 or so :-)
Looks delicious!!!

Anglophile Football Fanatic said...

That is perfect. It's a recipe for a perfect post - but I gotta know? What did Todd think?

Cara said...

Can I come over for some? I love stew.
If I spell spiced pumpkin I am taken back to fall evenings at my mother house. She use to simmer pumpkin pie spices on the wood stove in the fall and the smell always make me think of those time.

Tricia said...

This is a beautiful post and it sounds like you're doing a wonderful job of creating memories.

Karen Deborah said...

I make that stew too in the same kind of pot and it's delish. Wait until they are big teenagers and you need a half a cow to fill them up. wonderful post.

Hilary said...

You've cooked up some beautiful memories.. no doubt your children will remember them fondly. This post was delicious.

Natalie said...

oh, i just love beef stew!!! i wish it wasn't still in the 90s here! still much too hot for stew but i can't wait for it to cool off so that i can cook some! yummy!!!

maggie's mind said...

Mmm, delicious! Food connects generations in such a powerful way, doesn't it? To this day when I really miss my mom, I feel a connection just by cooking something she used to make (in fact, one of those is already on the menu for this Friday, and I look so forward to it!). I think it is extra special that you remember your mom teaching you how to make stew her way and the memories of childhood and family it brings to mind - so perfect, so cozy. Perhaps one day you will show a daughter or a daughter-in-law the same. I'm sure my parents yelled at me at the dinner table because I remember being kind of a brat, but still, it doesn't take away from remembering mom's cooking with fondness. I bet you are doing just fine just by being conscious of it.

Webradio said...

It's funny for You...

Rebecca Ramsey said...

What a beautiful post!
And now I want stew!
Becky

Lee W. said...

I can totally relate! One day I was making ribs and my sister came over dand said "smells like mom's ribs." Well, duh, it's the same recipe for the sauce, but she didn't think that I might have made it... know what I mean? As for the silence and hubby- DITTO! LOL.

Green Girl in Wisconsin said...

Terrific post--I often feel like you do. Sometimes I'm in the groove, in control, other times I'm a poser, no clue, helpless. This memory attached to the stew is so lovely. Thanks.

Munchkins and Music said...

I loved this post. I can say I feel that way too sometimes, like I am acting like I know what I'm doing. It's nice to hear about your experiences. Thank for sharing!

wright said...

There is nothing better than mom's home cooking. I'm sure your boys will have ons of happy memories of you and your food!

wright said...

There is nothing better than mom's home cooking. I'm sure your boys will have ons of happy memories of you and your food!

Jyl @ MommyGossip said...

I am sooooo hungry for soup. And, it won't change to cooler weather here yet! Can't wait :). YUMMY!

Karen MEG said...

Mmmmm, stew, I could just smell it and taste it ...(you do realize, now that you have to share your mom's recipe?). All the comforts of home on a fall day. It's one of my husband's fave meals, and it does bring us all together as a family. What a lovely, lovely post.

I've been missing your blog Kathryn, indeed MIA from the blogworld out of necessity (I suppose it's about time that I updated my blogroll so I can just pop in quickly to say hi!)

Hope the other "stewing" impasse has resolved. It's only natural, these bouts of stress and silence during moving/selling ... been there. Survived it, as of course you surely will too ;)

MamaGeek @ Works For Us said...

I so feel ya. Our Moms (whom probably had it much worse - no internet community, cloth diapers, etc) seem to have had it much more together. The last few weeks I've been cooking and canning (yes, CANNING) all of my Mom's favorite recipes that I wanted to try. For this reason alone. To preserve and protect. Beautiful K!

Roxy Wishum said...

Congratulations! You have aroused my taste buds and made me miss my mom.

Laski Gal said...

OK. I swear I'm not a copy cat, but maybe something should be said for sharing the same feelings about scent . . . and its power.

I just posted on this . . . this weekend, back in MI, the cider mill. WOW. What a full on "scents" attack.

Have I told you how I love the way you think? Nope, not lately?

Well, I do . . .

just jamie said...

Aw Kathryn, that was just perfect. Isn't it amazing this parenting journey? I thought my own Mom was SO OLD when she was my age. And now, I think, "Why does anyone even listen to me? I have no idea what I'm talking about. Mostly, I just make it up as I go."

And so it goes...

imbeingheldhostage said...

Gorgeous post Kat. Perfect.

Words To Live By

Be grateful for each new day.
A new day that you have never lived before.
Twenty-four new, fresh, unexplored hours to use usefully and profitably.
We can squander, neglect, or use them.
Life will be richer or poorer by the way we use today.
Finish every day and be done with it.
You have done what you could;
some blunders and absurdities crept in;
forget them as soon as you can.
Tomorrow is a new day.
You shall begin it well and serenely and with too high a spirit to be
encumbered with your old nonsense.

-Ralph Waldo Emerson