For the first time in a few years (with the exception of the birth of my son 3 years ago), I did not have to cook on Mother’s Day. It was nice and we thoroughly enjoyed our Mother’s Day meal dining out hanging with my mom and grandma.
From the funny card I bought my mom this year, to my sister’s comments on how she never understands why I parent the way I do, but she is seeing the fruits of the seeds I am planting (she has no kids…yet!), the day was great. The highlight of our day was watching my 79-year-old grandmother open her iPad so she can FaceTime her sister in California and look at my kiddos pictures. We all pitched in to buy it for her and her face was priceless. She said proudly “I feel with the times now.” That comment in itself is pretty darn cute.
We have four generations going right now, my grandmother down to my daughter, and I can’t help but think how long that will last. I don’t look at my grandmother as being old, but it really hit me this past Christmas when she was in the hospital and seeing her in so much pain took a toll on me during the season. She’s been a fighter, she has always taken her health seriously and swears by her daily intake of Vitamin E for the last 47 years. Her sacrifices for our family have been underappreciated and yet she does not complain. From all I know, she has never let anyone be without a home. She has welcomed her home to her nephews, my mom as a newlywed and again all of us when my parents divorced. The ultimate sacrifice of my grandparent’s retirement years was taking us three girls in so we could have a loving home and a roof over our heads. But what I love most about her is her hospitality and making sure everyone that comes to her home feels loved. It is how she expresses her love by making sure her guests are well-fed and feels at home. Her one line has always been, “If you leave hungry it’s your own fault.”
Being able to live with her, I can see how she has rubbed off on me. Any big party she threw, she cooked everything from scratch. I look at myself and have taken on these very attributes. I cook everything from scratch when I throw big parties and I will cook it all whenever I host a dinner party and at least make sure there are snacks around when friends come over for a bit. My kitchen pantry is just like her’s. I have a place for everything and I get frustrated when it doesn’t go back to where it belongs. Something we joked about with my grandma, but now I get it.
I learned cooking from scratch has come from a long line of generations as I listened to my grandmother talk about the sacrifices her grandmother made for her family back in the Depression. Her grandmother would wait for everyone to eat and she would eat whatever was left and at times, it just may have been a piece of bread or sucking on the bone marrow for nourishment. My grandma said she learned from her, as now so have I.
That long line of cooking was something my mother took on as well and made most of her meals from scratch. Every Sunday was a big meal to last a few days, then a homemade casserole during the week and yes, whenever she threw our birthday parties, it was all made with her loving hands. In face, my mom is such a wonderful cook, so many have encouraged her to start her own bakery or catering business, but she just finds enjoyment baking and cooking for family and friends and a few will pay her for her talent to make her homemade goodies.
Being a single mom comes with no price tag and it was tough after my father left. My mom often left instructions for me to begin cooking a meal, often she made it the night before. I can’t tell you how many phone cords I burnt trying to make a pot of rice. Work ethics was instilled too as I watched my mom work, then two jobs after we moved in with my grandparents, I began babysitting to earn some money. I became a live-in nanny one summer, at the age of 12 for a single mom of three kids. She said I would be a good mom someday. I cooked meals, cleaned her home and kissed their boo-boo’s. I earned $125/week back then. That money bought me clothes and allowed me to go out with friends, but I always watched what I purchased and I saved.
It is strange what happens when we become mothers. You may freak when you realize you are your mother by the words you say while some don’t want to reflect back because of the hurt, and others look back with fond memories. Whatever childhood you had, take time to reflect on how you are becoming into your own mother. All of those generations past have shaped the mother you are today and the mother your daughter will be in the future or the wife your son will marry someday. Don’t lose sight of that. Our actions shape us and mold those little beings.
If you did not have a positive upbringing, what can you do differently to be a better mother today? Don’t be afraid to ask for help, there are some excellent parenting classes out there today that our parents didn’t have access too. That is the wonderful thing about “today’s times.”
As you reflect upon the past generations of the women in your family, think about the wisdom you can continue to pass down. That is wisdom beyond their little years that they too will look back on someday.