Welcome to Mommy Mondays.
I’ve been traveling so much I missed the signs at preschool about the Mother’s Day tea. When Pigtail came home talking about it the night before, I panicked about the schedule and everything else that was slipping through the cracks this spring.
As a family, we drove up to the school. Using the security code at sunset was trespassing, but I wanted to see the sign-up on the bulletin board myself. I needed to see that every blank was filled in with a name not mine. I took the pencil hanging from a piece of yarn and wrote my name beside my daughter’s, the last time slot available.
The Gorilla’s car pointed towards Target and the kids sang in the backseat while we bickered in the front. Your stress is stressing me out, he barked as we unbuckled car seats and he reached with one hand for an empty cart. Too loudly, I yelled Well you need to have an untethered soul!
The look on his face and the craziness of my words made us both laugh so hysterically, right there in the parking lot. I’d come to the edge of where you’re going to burst into tears or laugh like a maniac, and for once it broke my way.
What does that even mean? He said, smiling and shaking his head as he pushed the red cart full of our children toward the doors.
The next day, after the Mother’s Day tea, after two long meetings, our family received the hardest of news. I picked up my daughter and her friend from school, we made cookies and I tried to breathe and smile at the girls in their princess dresses, and I managed not to crawl into bed.
The friend left, The Gorilla came home, and though my default dinner on difficult days usually involves takeout or frozen pizza - any thoughtless way of getting food in our mouths - that just didn’t feel right tonight. I started to pull ingredients from the fridge.
I’m a decent cook, but I never meant to be. When Pigtail was born, it became a necessity to cook at home. Over the years I’ve started to enjoy it more, but I’ve never been passionate about it. Like writing, I don’t love cooking but I enjoy having cooked.
And then on her Mother’s Day card for school, my beautiful daughter wrote that she loves mom because “she always cooks dinner for me.”
I do. I always cook dinner for her. And though I did not think of myself as one who cooks as an expression of love, suddenly I did. On this day, I needed to express love to my family in a way that my body and face would allow.
It was simple, what I prepared. I grilled chicken and buttered the corn. I made some tea and set the table. It was the most and least I could do for the three people downstairs feeding the fish, two of them jumping on the beanbag and one of them heartbroken.
“She always cooks dinner for me...” My own mom makes dinner. And lunch and snacks and breakfast and holiday meals. She always seemed to enjoy it, and everyone she has ever cooked for has praised her for it, so I guess I’ve always thought of it as her talent instead of her expression of love.
My mom isn’t very emotional and I am. We don’t show things the same way. Not love, not disapproval, not happiness. But she taught me this, and it appears I’m accidentally teaching my daughter: feeding your family is nurturing them. Sometimes it’s just the next right thing.