It’s Mother’s Day and it seems appropriate that I would be channeling my mother in the kitchen this weekend. Â Tabouli, Hummus, Baba Ghannouj- salt, allspice, cinnamon, garlic, tahini, eggplant, and parsley dripped and splashed everywhere! Â You can’t make Lebanese food without making a mess, using your hands and taste testing along the way. Â The sterile kitchen policeÂ wouldÂ have me under arrest.
My daughter in law is craving Lebanese food for my little Lebanese grandson still nesting just under her heart. Â A new little Shaheen boy in the works. Â My mom would be beside herself! Â Another man to cook for!
I found my place very early in life next to my mother in the kitchen. Â I had no choice really. Â I just grew up in there with my own apron and stepping stool, stirring the rice pudding, chopping the parsley and washing the dishes. Â Sometimes all at the same time.
I never complained. Â With a family of eight and so many brothers, it was the only way I could sneak something to eat before the foodÂ hit the dinner table. It was also my special time to be with my mom. Â To smell her perfume and sing songs with her.Â AtÂ a very young age, I wanted to beÂ just like her. Â She was so loved and admired by everyone. Â And she was a fabulous cook. Â I think she invented that idiom about the way to a man’s heart is through his stomach..
She always knew just what to do in every situation. Â What to cook for every ailment. Â How to take care of her family. Â She could have written the book on mothering.
I watched her as a young mother wrap up my babies and sing to them. Â When my youngest, Peter,Â was born, I found her playing in the sandbox with Patrick and Robert and their trucks. Â “Whose mother isÂ that??” I wondered! Â My mother never got dirty. Â My mother had her nails and hair done every week and wore heels and hose. Â My mother didn’t own a pair of jeans until she turned 50!
As I recuperated from each pregnancy and birth, she cleaned my house and did the laundry and cooked delicious things for us in the kitchen. Â I justÂ held my babiesÂ and watched. Â I wanted to get in there and chop and stir and wash dishes but clearly our roles had changed and I was no longer the little girl helping. Â I was theÂ mother. Still learning from her. Â Still needing her advice and expertise. Â Still wanting to be close to her in the kitchen.
NowÂ on the cusp of being a new grandmother myself, I’m feeling a bit insecureÂ in the transition. Â What will my new role be like? Â What are the expectations? Â Will I know what to do with a new baby? Â After all, it’s been 30 years since I had Peter. Â Things have changed. Mothers are more enlightened due to the internet. Â InformationÂ is dispelled easily through a quick Google. Â Does anyone call their motherÂ for advice anymore?
The new parentingÂ trends bring natural fibers and toxic free toys. Â Gender fluid nurseries and neutral color schemes. Â Babies sleep face up instead of face down. Â Bumpers are no longer safeÂ in cribs. Â There’s something called “sleep training”.
Maybe I will GoogleÂ “gramma training”.
So I find myself in the kitchen where I feel safe and smug. Â I know the way to a man’s heart is through his stomach. Â Or through his mommy’s stomach.
It’s a start. Â The rest will come in time.
As I chop the parsley and squeeze the lemons. Â Smash the garlic with the salt just how she taught me. Â Mix the Tabouli with my unsterile hands- I haven’t killed anyone yet with my cooking-Â I feel her standing next to meÂ and I smell her perfume. Â I am infused with her wisdom and her strength and her confidence in me.
“You got this, Sissie! Â You’re going to be a wonderful Sittie!”
Feeling the Mom void..