I love to document life, in videos, writing, art and photos so I am jumping on this thoughtful and inspiring project, Mom Before Mom, started by Carla at All of Me Now.
Carla explains the idea behind Mom Before Mom: “So much of memory keeping is focused on capturing our children’s experience but what of our own? Who will capture the mother’s journey as a woman? Who will honor our journey if we don’t honor it first?
My hope is to make this a community effort. To gather a group of women, writers, storytellers who are eager to write from the heart and share themselves. So I invite you to join me.”
I’ve accepted her invitation, this is my third post in the series.
Last week’s post: What was your childhood bedroom like?
This week’s prompt:
What was your favorite home cooked meal as a child? Did you help make it? How did it make you feel? Share the scents and sights and flavors.
We had our seats, but we also had our say. More than the food, I remember the discussions, the laughing, the problem solving, and the sharing that happened around that table. We devoured side dishes of daily check ins, gobbled up glimpses of business decisions when my Dad purposefully told stories from the office. We were fed lessons from the news along with our green beans and explored family values and decisions.
On the nights when my Dad was on a business trip, we would get visits from an imaginary Italian woman, Granny Fanny Nesserole. My Mom would slip into this persona and accent while we tumbled into fits of laughter.
My Mom made dinners special. It was usually our job to set the table, but some nights, she would set the table in an extra special way, with flowers, candles, pretty china and she would serve an appetizer before the main course. On Valentine’s Day, we would come to the table and each find a card and small package wrapped in pinks and reds.
We always had a salad with dinner. My Dad would ask for the salad bowl when we were all done and he’d eat the rest right out of the serving bowl. Sure, we learned manners at the dinner table, but that was his thing and we thought it was normal. One night, I remember my Mom was serving liver (back in the 70’s when it used to be healthy) and my Dad, before taking a bite announced, “If that’s what I think it is, no one touch the salad!” A bit of family lore.
Balanced, healthy meals were a priority and my Mom regularly tried out new and different recipes, some keepers, others got the family thumbs down. Unless it was a special occasion, we were allowed two cookies for dessert. Not three, always two. For years as an adult, I would only eat two cookies and one day I realized, “Hmm, I’m a grown-up and I can have more if I want!”
If I had to pick a favorite home cooked meal, it would be eggplant parmesan. If I ever made a request, that’s what I’d ask for. I loved my Mom’s eggplant, my grandma’s eggplant and my favorite restaurant, The Old Oak’s eggplant parm.
Daily, I’d pop into the kitchen and ask “What’s for dinner?” and no matter what she was cooking, I would always say, “Oh, Yum!” My Mom would smile and say, “You’re a pleasure to cook for!”
I look back and appreciate the family dinners of my childhood even more now that I have my own family. I find myself following my Mom’s example, setting a pretty table for special occasions (and sometimes for no occasion), instating the two cookie rule and certainly no TV allowed during dinner. We even sit at a table that my creative husband, like my Dad, built for our family.
We’ve made some of our own family dinner traditions and Nick cooks quite often, my Dad never did, but the importance and the value of family dinners, that’s just like growing up, and I still love homemade eggplant parmesan.