WARNING: This blog post is rambling and maybe has no thesis. And maybe it's not really about Mom. There's maybe, like, a vague point but there's a horrendous lack of TA DA! If you've never read my blog before, you might want to skip this one and tune in when I am clever-er. Maybe tomorrow? If you know me and you're willing to read on anyway, please forgive me! And give me feed back because, as I state at the end... T-Minus one year till I need a Big Girl Career!
When I was growing up, Mom did things homemade. She sewed us first-day-of-school outfits and Halloween costumes. She (almost always) made dinner from actual ingredients - not from packages. She canned tomatoes and made homemade jelly. While she would buy boxes of brownie and cake mix, she baked them herself.
As I grew older Mom found ways to save herself time and energy by utilizing modern conveniences. I think some of this had to do with feeling less like she was always on a very tight budget. (When I was in fourth grade she went back to teaching full time and this income must have given our household of 8 a huge boost.) I also remember distinctly a trip we took to Phoenix to visit my Aunt and Uncle. I had just graduated from high school and we went for 5 days or so. I noticed - and I know Mom did, too - that Aunt Tootsie served us great food.... but most of it was frozen and simply microwaved or baked into its final loveliness. I've never asked her, but I'm thinking that this trip put the kernel of an idea in Mom's head: "If TOOTSIE can serve frozen food for a family meal, so can I!"
So, about that time, Sam's Club became a very popular family field trip and packaged lasagna and ready-to-microwave mozzarella stix and pre-cut veggies and massive bulk packages of condiments found their way into our house. I am very happy that Mom found a way to save herself some effort and still put good food on her very busy table. All hail the woman with better things to do than chop veggies all afternoon!
But in the last few years or so, I think I sense her swinging back the other way... or she's at least interested the swing I'm trying to make that way. I recommended "Animal, Vegetable, Miracle" to her and I know she's ordered a hard copy (this from the Kindle Queen!). I mentioned to her that I was hoping to do some canning or other preserving of fresh, local foods this summer and... viola!... Mom ordered me some canning supplies and a "how to" book to get me started. I'm very excited - and nervous - to give it a shot. She's given me a lot of ideas of what is best canned (peaches, tomatoes, pears, etc.) and what is best frozen (any green veggies). Maybe, just maybe, there's a twinge of nostalgia in her voice? Or she misses her Mama? Possibly both.
Here's a bit of a leap, but this "how to feed your family" thing is sort of a social lightning rod. Obesity rates are offensive, frankly, and many kids think apples come cut up in 1-inch pieces in plastic packages with Ronald McDonald's face on them. (I'm not a journalist here... I'm totally making that last one up... but if SEEMS that way!) Feeding into (ba-dum-dum) my thinking about all this is another great read I had recently: "Poser: My life in twenty-three yoga poses" This is by a woman from Seattle, WA who was trying to be "that" mom who nursed till her child was 12 months old and only bought organic toys and didn't allow television and maintained a writing career. Not surprisingly, she STRUGGLED to be all the things that were expected of her in her community. It seems to her (and me) that a lot of us are asking ourselves to be career women AND organic/homemade/nurturing/forward-thinking Moms & Wives, too. It's a LOT. And now I've rambled away from Marvy Mom Monday a great deal... but Mom's in here, I swear.
It's sort of interesting to think of my mom struggling with any of this homemade v. pre-made, wholesome v. convenient, Suzy Homemaker v. Jane Careergal stuff. She is, after all, a "pre-feminist". (This is a HUGE generalization but a good friend of mine says she can almost always nail down a woman's mindset about life and careers and family based on their graduation year from high school: 1968. Before that, June Cleaver; after that, Melanie Griffith in Working Girl!) She was a small town girl, very eager to get married and have kids and run a household. She, in fact, loved doing that and was not thrilled to head back into teaching. But when she did start up again at school, something had to give. So, homemade school clothes went bye bye. (No loss to us kids, we were getting past the point of "what mama sews is cool" anyway!) And convenience foods began filling up our freezer and fridge and pantry. She did her best to keep her balance with her career (in which she continued to advance and excel) and her 6 children.... which became 7 children... and then 8.... followed by grandchildren, many of whom were, frankly, more like children than grandchildren in many ways.
So, in my final year as a kind of stay-at-home Mom, I'm focusing on getting my family moved toward locally grown foods. I'm focusing on finding sources of protein that won't cost more than our mortgage but will also not fill my guys with hormones and pesticides and god-knows-what-else. (Oh, and wouldn't it be nice if in their time on earth these protein sources actually resembled the animals that they supposedly are?)
I hope get it nailed down. I hope I find a way to put it on autopilot. 'Cuz next year, I hope my mom will be counseling me on which shoes go with my new work suit instead of what part of summer is best for finding the sweetest peaches.
If I only knew what I wanted to be when I grow up....
WHO'S IT GONNA BE??