Posts tagged ‘kitchen’

June 15, 2013

everything but the girl

a number of my eldest son’s friends are turning 5 lately and he, overhearing conversations about kindergarten, observing my friends emote at the significance, and intuiting the maturation around him, is well aware that this birthday is not like the others; that it is distinctive, that milestones abound.

not surprisingly, he has begun to look at his own (one day) 5th birthday with idealized regard and now reconciles everything that he covets but that is out of reach- special events, activities, freedoms, repeat opportunities to go on excursions via plane- by saying, albeit unconvincingly, “maybe when i’m five”.

despite the tentative tone, it works and he has somehow been able to manage his lofty expectations with this simple reminder, however inaccurate. unfortunately (for me) his regular wantedness, his daily basis neediness, continues to know no bounds and he starts many common sentences with a demanding: “i want”.

i was washing dishes this morning, early, already feeling desperate after a week of him sick and our life therefore tabled, multiple days restricted to the four walls of our home, when he started in at me: all the things he wanted, how he wanted them done. his father is away, mourning  the life of a relative, and, therefore, it doesn’t matter that it’s saturday. it’s just me here. here with them; their requests.

i didn’t reply, which had no impact on his behaviour but assisted me to feel somewhat grounded, empowered even- such a subtle act of resistance.

not one to back down, he persisted. baby, teething, made his gentle way in to the kitchen from where he played near by. “mum mum mum” he muttered, approaching where i stood, signaling he too had a desire for me to provide any number of things: milk, attention, comfort, entertainment, reprieve.

i found myself looking up at the ceiling and was confronted by it’s unglamourous, entry level appearance- not helpful- and thought briefly of shaking the clawing paws off my ankles, brushing past the talking machine, and making my exit: down the stairs and out the front door, away from all that is expected of me, complete with my yet untouched morning coffee.

instead, i found myself doing what i recall having witnessed my mother do, and with closed eyes, pursed lips, and taught breath, i hush-growled to the white roof: “lord, give me strength”- more of a threat then a prayer.

when i opened my eyes, i hadn’t yet found the courage to turn to my eldest but i bent to retrieve baby, moaning now, and was impressed with just how quickly he settled once stationed on my left hip. so simple, so primary, so generous in his acceptance of what is.

i heard myself think, and then say “we can’t have everything that we want”, mostly in effort to remind myself of the same, it would seem.

“but, look at me momma! i want you to look at me! watch me momma! do you see me?”. it seemed as though my statement was mistaken for participation and he was encouraged…

“do you see me?”, i replied in all seriousness, turning to him, finally. he looked confused. “do you?” i implored.

“of course i do mamma, don’t be silly”, he offered, confused.

the question was lost on him.

he can’t see my master’s degree, begging for completion. he doesn’t see my muscles, screaming for a run. he doesn’t see my brain, dehydrated, thirsty for adult company, conversation, camaraderie. he doesn’t see my skin, itchy for lack of sleep. he doesn’t know the sacrifices that i make and what goes undone on my own list of wants so that he and his brother, both beyond deserving, can have a life complete. he sees his mother, and she’s pretty great, but he just doesn’t see me.

maybe when he’s five?

February 14, 2013

february: the final frontier

this is how it all went down.

i’d just given birth and, because my son was 11 pounds, i delivered my dignity along with him, leaving me disabled, for weeks, unless heavily medicated.

it was a preschool morning and i, somehow, managed to get dressed, as well as the kids, and then made my sore ass and their cute butts down the stairs, out the door, and in the car. we even made it there on time. it was amazing.

unfortunately, there, after all this effort, instead of a cheer squad ready-set to celebrate my achievement with high fives, was the parent sign up sheet for the halloween party that was scheduled for the following week. this is not the stuff that dreams are made of: i fail miserably at cute mom. the very mention of pinterest gives me anxiety and, on occasion, makes me hostile (you’ve been warned).

i began to sweat but, fortunately, was quickly pulled from my place of fear by my unreasonably competitive spirit (thanks, mom). damned if i’m gonna opt out like some flake, my inner monologue asserted, and i approached the sheet, handwritten in perfect preschool printing, with my head held high.

i scanned the options (cupcakes, cookies, other things that required skill) and, then, relieved, my eyes zeroed in on the cheese and cracker platter. it was a cop-out, but it was a deal. we always have cheese, we have a pantry full of crackers and i felt that regardless of my current state (i.e. inability to perform basic bodily functions), i should, at least, be able to manage that.

no one will even think less of me, i thought, considering it was pretty obvious i had bigger issues to contend with (as evidenced by full brief adult diapers visible above the waist of my sweatpants).

as it turns out, i managed to forget that i’d committed myself to the easiest contribution and on the day of i noticed on the calendar that i had scribbled: “be cute for preschool”, in what looked like a menacing, drunken script. with minutes to spare i mad-frantic hacked up some cheddar and threw it in, of all things, a zip lock bag, complete with a paper plate (admittedly, weak choices) and a bag of stone wheat thins. not quite what i’d envisioned providing for the merriment of my son’s first preschool celebration but i, delusional, assumed it would be good enough.

needless to say, whilst funneling into the classroom i couldn’t help but observe the amazing spread of wholesome and delectable treats also making there way in, held proudly above the makers shoulders as they unzipped the coats of their children with one hand. i cringed, my entire body shrunk, when i saw the other mother’s cheese platter complete with a variety of fromage choices cut out in seasonal shapes and figures (we’re talking about pumpkins and acorns here people) with a wide selection of cracker pairings attractively displayed on a carved wooden serving dish.

head down, i slinked to the food table, infant car seat bumping along my shin as i shuffled my pathetic remains forward. i casually placed my offering on the table providing no eye contact and no conversation, so not to draw attention to myself and in hope of it all going unnoticed.

i left embarrassed and upon return home, i debriefed with my father, who had arrived for his shift as assigned support person, present to intervene should i fatigue, hemorrhage, or melt down to the point of being unable to parent. another mother failure, i reported. sucked it up hard at today’s cute mom attempt, i confessed. patiently, he heard my ridiculousness and shallow musings about the mom race.

fortunately, by pick up time, i’d snapped out of it. eff it, i’d decided. in the classroom i confidently collected my child and scanned the food table to see if any leftovers required gathering. there it was: my ‘effort’, untouched. even the children knew it was a flop. i shrugged it off and then marched over, scooped it up, and made our way to the car.

my father, having accompanied me for the ride, was still in the car with baby. he wisely remained silent as i wrestled my sugar-high boy into his car seat and then collapsed into the driver’s side with a whine- rejected snack in lap.

a few minutes later he broke the silence. “so…”, he began, tentatively, “it all came back”.

just then, before i could reply, the big boy asked for a snack.  “well, looky here son”, i replied, “i happen to have some crackers and cheese ready, just for you”.

my dad and i, delirious, laughed all the ride home.

so…. it’s valentine’s day. you’d think that months later i would be healed from the ego wounds i suffered so many months ago. well, perhaps i have. this said, the depths of my vanity are profound and i have been waiting for months to redeem myself.

and, now that i am continent, can walk with some grace, and generally function like a regular woman, i did. i participated in some role play and put on the ol’ apron. i read and re-read the recipe. i measured, mixed, and swore. i created havoc, and cookies. i dressed myself nicely, walked my son in proudly, placed the platter down whilst engaging as many people as possible. i returned, sure that my treats would have been well appreciated.

and, they were. that’s right, bitches.

p.s.- i realise that my cookies looked like pinterest cookies after they made friends with the blender. whatever. the point is, i baked something, all by myself, the end product resembled a valentine’s cookie, and they were full of sugar. the good moms might scorn me behind my back for not making something with whole grains or a super food but the kids apparently liked them and i got a story out of it. frankly, this adventure turned out better than the last vanity fuelled activity i shamefully participated in i.e. forcing my engagement and wedding band on my sausage of a ring finger trying to prove to myself that i’d lost enough baby weight to get away with it. in the end, my finger went numb, purple, and swelled up until it looked like an angry penis. the rings had to be cut off. no word of a lie.

November 14, 2012

if these walls could talk

my husband’s family home is 100 years old and stands in the center of a town that has grown up around it. in the face of change, growth, and expansion, it stands, stubbornly, seemingly refusing to be altered or modified from it’s original state. it has seen many a rainy day and suggests, in outer appearance, at least, that it might have had enough of the grey scale, fog, and moisture, and might just melt into the ground, end the fight to withstand another tofino winter, and make peace, finally, with the harsh landscape and weather pattern.

inside, though it is often cold and drafty, it is usually full of family members who love each other and, paired with the fabric of his family’s history, having been inhabited by multiple generations over the years, it is, for that, very warm. it is a damp, dark house, with a narrow entry way, steep and creaky stairs, a number of bedrooms, one bathroom, one living area, an eating area, a cold spare room used for storage, and a bizarre and tiny kitchen. it is so small, in fact, that the oven and other essential appliances live in the large and spacious dining area, which is fitting, considering the volume of people who dine there on the regular.

the kitchen was once mint green, i think, and is now faded in it’s glory. the linoleum is lifted in parts, worn completely out in others, and the yellow sparkly countertops have lost their sheen. like the exterior, what could pass for neglected is, in fact, just well used and unpretentious. it is a busy and active kitchen and i can hardly believe what his mother, sisters, and brothers in law are capable of producing from there. feasts, i tell you, by any other name. i personally find that it lacks counter space and order and therefore can’t think very clearly in there and, because of this, have difficulty functioning to my potential inside it’s walls.

despite this, i love it. i love the ice cream bucket compost. i love the garbage cans, often full of salmon remains, that are separated into burnables and non (a system, admittedly, i have never fully understood and probably confuse and/or ruin regularly). i love that there is only room for one, maybe two adults in there, and i love that when the dishwasher moves in, requiring a hook up to the sink to drain, that exactly zero people fit, rendering it unusable. i love the vinegar in the microwave, i love that there is always baking on the counter (though my waistline does not), i love that there is always coffee in the pot though no one who lives there drinks it, and i love the cactus on the window sill which is so illogical, given the floods that pound the pane, rendering it even more blurry and isolating, as the plastic that is put up in protection every season keeps out the angry storms but limits any clear view to the external world, as well.

one of my favorite parts of the kitchen is a hidden treasure taped inside a cupboard, a piece of worn paper with faded writing, hung above a oversized vat of flour, used by my mother in law (a precious, kind, and giving woman who has raised what seems like hundreds of children and even more spirits) when she creates her home-made bread that is highly coveted.

taped there for reference, complete with a threatening reminder to NOT (or else) remove the #$%&*@! recipe is the simple list of ingredients and directions you will find below. i don’t follow directions well, and often resist conforming to the rituals of my in-laws for some unfounded reason i can’t name or explain but, truth be known, i have been absorbed by this one. years after first seeing the yellowed scrap paper with what i think is his second eldest sister’s writing, and after dozens, maybe more, pancake breakfasts at his mother’s proud and stoic family table, i made the call, i asked for the recipe, it was generously provided to me from memory, and i am the better for it. you will be too.

enjoy.

pancake recipe

1. mix together:

1 & 1/2 cups flour, 3 teaspoons sugar, 1/2 teaspoon salt, and 3 teaspoons baking powder.

2. add:

1 cup milk

3. stir until just smooth.

4. in a separate bowl, mix together:

1/4 cup milk, 1 egg, 1/2 teaspoon vanilla, and 3 tablespoons oil or margarine / butter.

5. combine and mix together.