5.02.2011

Mother's Day: Recognizing moms who deliver love from the kitchen

I was sitting on the plane on the way back from Camp Blogaway absorbing so much that was shared by the sponsors, speakers, and participants.  There were many blogger-moms in the group sharing the stress they carry with them everyday and talking about balancing daily challenges.  On the return flight, while Osama Bin Laden was dying, I was thinking about my mom actually and how she is the reason I am the way I am.  I wouldn't be interested in food or cooking if it wasn't for her.  Still trying to figure out if I should credit her or blame her.  Allow me to share a small gallery of memories about my mom-and-food associations. 

I remember in my 4th grade class, we each had to write a descriptive essay (a lesson on adjectives and imagery) about what we ate for dinner the night before and then after writing it out, we had to read it in front of the class.  I felt very uneasy about this assignment because while my classmates were eating meatloaf or chicken pot pie, I was eating Indian vegetarian foods that my mom cooked, like "rotli, daal, bhath, shaak"(translation "flat bread, lentils, rice, vegetable side dish"), and too ashamed to say it or talk about it in front of the class.  And I was dreading having to explain the omission of meat.  I was the only kid with immigrant parents in that class and back in 1988, there wasn't so much awareness about ethnic foods or international cultures and therefore, there wasn't much sensitivity to those things, as there are now.  So what did I do?  I wrote about my delicious spaghetti and meatballs dinner.  Of course, I had never had spaghetti with meatballs so my descriptive essay sucked and probably included phrases like "curly noodle" and "round meat thingies".  My mom always taught me to always be proud of my heritage, but I never told my mom about that incident. 

My mom was a stay at home mom from my entire K-12 life.  I hated it.  Why can't my mom go to work like everyone else's mom?  I wanted to come home to an empty house after school and watch Tiny Tunes or General Hospital (don't judge my broad range of interests) instead of being asked to drink milk or start on my homework.  What I overlooked was the wonderful welcome I got when I came home from school.  I remember when I came home from school, she would make piping hot french fries perfectly seasoned with salt and pepper.  On rainy days, she would make chaa and bhajiya which is hot chai spiced tea and deep fried savory chickpea and fenugreek dough balls.  We would have these in the backyard and watch the rain....and then she'd tell me to drink milk and go do my homework.

Once I was in 6th grade, Mom never packed my lunch.  Never.  She would be awake at 5:30am every day, but she would not pack my lunch.  She would WATCH me pack my lunch.  While that was mean, in hindsight, it's still mean, but it was her backhanded way of teaching me time management in the kitchen.  I complained about this for years, and on the very last day of 12th grade, I woke up and she packed that one lunch for me.  I'll never forget that.  A great example of "under promise and over deliver".

As high-schoolers, my sister and I would have to come home and prep our usual Indian dinner, kneading the flatbread dough, soaking the rice, preparing the pressure cooker for lentils...  Why are we doing this while our friends are at the mall????  My sister and I are 4 years apart, so once she went off to college (a freedom I was so prematurely thirsty for), I was sous chef with Mom for the next 4 years.    My mom strategically arranged for 8 years of child labor in the kitchen.  Smart Woman.  At the time, I never gave mom brownie points for the great heart-to-heart talks we would have at the stove and sink between the "I hate you"s and "You don't let me do anything"s.

Mom made it all about Family and Food and the Kitchen. She would learn western diets, making broccoli and cauliflower casserole or bean and cheese enchiladas.  She'd make cheesecakes and chocolate chip cookies.  We ate together ALWAYS. We occasionally watched Wheel of Fortune while dining. And on Fridays, we'd have Pizza Picnics. We would have a picnic in our living room and order pizza, drink soda, and watch NBCs TGIF. And if it was movie night, we'd have chips, queso, and salsa.   She never took "Me Time" or "Girl Time" or "Date night with Dad" or "Spa Day" or "Shopping Time" or "Getting My Nails Done".  While she ran a tight ship, her heart swells and overflows with selfless unconditional love.  My mom made so many sacrifices and pinched pennies to give my sister and I the life she always dreamed of. 
Ps - I'm writing in past tense because these are memories, not because she is no longer. I'm very thankful that she's still around...trying to find my "blob" on the Internet.

I got off of the plane yesterday around midnight, and waited for 45 minutes for the parking shuttle bus. It was cold, wet and rainy.  I could really go for some chaa and bhajiyas.

Mom, you rock.  (Much more than rabbit food.)


***If you have a favorite food memory with your mom or mother-like figure, please share it in the comments and make sure you share these memories with her on Mother's Day this Sunday. ***

23 comments:

  1. What a beautiful tribute to your Mom... Coming home to "piping hot french fries perfectly seasoned with salt and pepper" never happened in my house... But coming home to my Mom watching General Hospital did!

    It was great meeting you at camp. You rock!

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  2. I love your stories! The first one really spoke to me (even though that was the opposite of my experiences). I did a show a few years back with a bunch of Middle Eastern and Indian kids whose moms would pack the most amazing lunches. They all, of course, wanted to order pizza instead.

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  3. I loved reading through each one of your stories, but definitely the one about coming home after school resonated the most with me. My mom is a teacher, and when I was younger she taught kindergarten half days specificially so she could be at home when we got home from school. I do have these vivid memories of her being there with hugs and food, but at the time I know i did not realize how special it was. But I think the best was that she would pack these great lunches for me everyday (full of healthy foods of course!) and there would always be a cute little note from her in there. When I got older and she still packed the notes I would get embarassed sometimes to open my lunch and find them, but her smiles and words of love always touched my heart. to this day, I have saved those notes and I will keep them forever!

    (and ps. I watched General Hospital too! tee hee...)

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  4. averagebetty - thanks for stopping by and posting a comment!
    Stacy - Ha! That's so funny! I would probably opt for pizza too! :)
    cilantropist - who wouldn't love a note in their lunch? thank you for sharing!

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  5. You know, I completely relate to this post... I feel like we could have been long lost twins. I was the only vegetarian and man, at the time I wanted my mom to be like the other moms. But looking back, I never had to "fit" into my mom's schedule/life. My siblings, my dad and I were her life. She did and still does everything she can for me. Remind me to tell you my "Coming to America: 6 year old Piyusha wins a goldfish at school" story :)

    Thanks for this entry Amee.

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  6. Amee, this is beautiful. Honest and heartwarming without being overly sappy or sentimental. I thought about my mom one way when she was alive, but I think about her very differently now that she's gone. You're so fortunate that you've come to understand your own mom a little better while she's still very much a part of your life.

    My best friend growing up was Indian (her name was Vidhya), and I always envied that he mom stayed home since mine was always working!

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  7. Amee, all your anecdotes about your Mom really resonated with me, the Mum of a newly critical son who doesn't want to learn how to pack his lunch!

    It's wonderful you've come to a place to appreciate all she did do for you, and how it's a big part of who you are now. Sometimes, when my pre-teen and I are having a tough time, I head to the kitchen to make something he likes. Food made with love can make everyone feel better.

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  8. Loved your post!! Do hope that your Mom can eventually find your "Blob". Theres nothing better than someone realizing that they've been understood and appreciated, even though you still might say "While that was mean, in hindsight, it's still mean,...." !

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  9. Piyusha - so glad you can relate! looking forward to hearing your goldfish story!
    Cheryl - Thanks for stopping by and reading my post. I am so lucky I got to meet you!
    Sarah - I love that when I read your comment, I read it in your fabulous Australian Accent! Just know that when your son is being mean or unappreciative, he'll feel bad about it later...you just have to wait 10 years.
    Amit! - Thank you for being such a loyal reader/follower. I was telling all of my new friends about how your feedback has really improved the quality of my blog! thanks again for taking time to comment!

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  10. Awww...my mom tries hard to find my "blob" too. So sweet. Great article!

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  11. This post brought back so many happy memories for me and I can relate to each one! My standard response for the dinner question was "macaroni & cheese". I got a little teary eyed reading the lunch post about making you lunch on your last day of high school...what a touching tribute to your mom!

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  12. Ams, as I emailed you earlier, this post is just so amazing. Especially of course since somehow you have vivid memories of way back then but probably none of like, say, last week. :) I think your post touched a lot of people. Funny, I just was working on a post about moms too. Mom's going to have a great Mother's Day this year since both her girls have "blobs". :)

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  13. AnonymousMay 06, 2011

    Yes, I am that mom who did not pack lunch. I always wanted to prepare my daughters to live independently but believe me it was hurting me by not doing lots of things for my kids, while other people were pampering their kids. if i do not throw a kid in water, he/she can not learn to swim. I am so happy that I have two beautiful daughters who realy understands me even I was so many place wrong and we all are like good friends. mom

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  14. So loved reading your post.. so beautiful... I really hope our kids don't have worry about hiding their lunch boxes...:)

    I am soo missing my mom this year.. well yours was such a nice uplifting post while mine landed up being a little too emotional.. really enjoyed meeting you last weekend.

    http://yumkid.com/mothers-day-without-my-mom

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  15. I just left your sister's blog where she also wrote a lovely tribute to your mom. As I told Shefaly, I am forever thankful that my mom chose to stay at home with us. I think it's one of the world's most demanding, precious, and powerful jobs, and I'm so glad that women like your mom and mine chose that path.

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  16. stateofkind - thanks for stopping by! glad to see you here!
    roshni - thanks for the comment - i knew you could relate!
    shefskitchen - what happened last week? ;-)
    anonymous (ahem, MOM) - thanks for commenting. it's okay. i still have to pack my lunch for many more years...
    rashmi - i'm so sorry to hear about your mom. But your post was written beautifully and i just simply love that photo of you and your two kids!
    Susan! - glad to see you here! thanks for your comment. sometimes i just watch my sister who is a stay at home and i get exhausted just watching her run around all day!

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  17. This was so touching. Sorry I'm just now getting to it. I could really relate to your story, and I'm so happy you appreciate her while you still have her. A week or two after my mom died, I wrote this post, and yours reminded me of it.
    http://lentilbreakdown.blogspot.com/2009/11/last-butterscotch.html

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  18. My mother worked and she raised us on TV dinners. She never cooked breakfast. We had Instant Breakfast. On the weekends she would sleep. and she would yell, and the beatings would commence. I learned how to cook and how to bake, and I packed my own lunches and did the housework. One blessing I had was a babysitter who was a domestic goddess. Her floors were always freshly waxed and she even made her own bread. Her family would come home from their day and sit to a perfectly set table and homemade dinners. She adored her husband and her children. Her husband left her for a Korean mail order bride.
    We learn from these challenges to our childhoods,... and marriages.What I would give if my only complaint was about packing my own lunches.

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  19. This was so sweet! I helped out with the cooking a little bit, but I think I like how your mom thinks. My oldest is in 4th grade and he's going to have start pulling his weight in the kitchen and lend a hand! Love it!

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  20. Lentil - your post was so well written and you are a gifted storyteller. thanks for sharing the link here! I might think of you everytime i have butterscotch now.
    Linda - thanks for your comment. Unfortunately it's only now that I have an appreciation for my mom. I wish i could "un-do" my previous unappreciative-ness....(that's not a word - i know)
    Family Spice - thanks for your comment. I really remember moments in the kitchen more than any other memory...he'll thank you later for the culinary training. and maybe his wife will too one day :)

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  21. Hi Amee, I am new to your blog and today is my second day on it. I love your writing style and decided to start reading from your first post. Must say this post is my favourite out of all the ones I have read (I still have a whole year's worth of reading to do!). It took me back to my packed lunch memories. I have been thinking about writing a blog for the past year but been procrastinating. I think this post may have just inspired me to give it a go. Thank you!

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    1. Wow. I am speechless. What a flattering comment. You totally made my day. It's comments like this that make it fulfilling and worthwhile my time to blog. Thanks for reading...and every single post at that! Please subscribe for future posts. Would love to hear your feedback in the future too. :) Wishing you well on your blogging endeavors as well!

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  22. Hi..I actually got linked to this post through another page.. I only clicked it coz i found your blog name intriguing n why would someone say 'blob'... But as i started reading it i am reminded of my mom, who used to be a stay at home mom too.. She used to do the same, n just like you then i did not know the worth of it all.. Now i have started a new job at a new city n this is when i am starting to appreciate her more and more everyday.. Thanks for sharing

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