Both of my kids will be with me for the holidays, and I can't wait. In preparation for their return, I have gone to the grocery store to stock up on their favorite snacks. Yes, I'm great with snacks but not so much with actual meals. If you walk into my kitchen, you will find very little in the refrigerator, a lot of expired meals in the freezer and tons of canned goods.
You might mock me now, but when Armageddon hits, I will outlive you. You will be knocking on my door begging for some Pork 'n Beans because your organic eggs have gone bad.
I do feel guilty when I hear all of my kids' friends talk about how they love to come home to the smells that waft from their mother's kitchen. Well, my kids find smells too. Unfortunately, soured milk doesn't have the same appeal as roasted turkey.
When the kids were little, I stayed home for a couple of years and cooked at least three nights a week. I fixed meatloaf from my mother's recipe, Swiss steak, pork chops in the Crock Pot and Chinese vegetables in the wok. I fixed green beans from a recipe on the side of the dried onion can. My chicken and rice dish came from the back of a can of Campbell's Cream of Mushroom soup. But I cooked. And I hated every minute of it.
Cooking required planning a week of meals, which I did. Then I pulled out the coupons that I would use for each meal. Next, I would go to the grocery store and forget the coupons. Later, I would return to the grocery store when I realized I had forgotten the milk. Next, I would spend an hour cooking a meal while my 2-year-old son sat on the counter and my 6-month-old daughter screamed from her love bucket.
Yes, I know having my son on the counter was dangerous, but I tied him to the faucet with a jump rope, so don't call me a bad mom.
Nothing prepared me for the exasperation of preparing and cooking for hours only to have the food devoured in five minutes... five minutes which I did not get to enjoy because I was making sure everyone else was fed. I never understood how this setup was fair.
Like many women, I learned to eat while I cooked, popping food in my mouth as I went along. Once I was trying to give the dog a Milk-Bone while cooking and inadvertently popped that it my mouth. It wasn't bad. Most of my meals, however, were consumed while standing over the sink doing dishes. I used that time to eat the leftovers off of my son's plate. Twas a fine dining experience, indeed.
Although I did love my mother's cooking, I was the girl who also loved Space Food Sticks. Give me some good chemicals that never expire wrapped in paper and formed into a shape that I can eat while roller-skating or watching television and I'm happy. I never received the Girl Scout badge for cooking, but I could kick ass on the hiking trail.
For years, my daughter thought cheese was that orange powder substance found in a box of macaroni and cheese. The first time my sister used real cheddar with macaroni my daughter asked, "What is that?" My sister answered, "real cheese, honey," through gritted teeth. I acted as if I were fascinated by her kitchen counter top, and carefully avoided her stare.
As adults, my kids only recognize the scent of cut-up hot dogs with apple slices or expired products. They have developed a bad habit of checking expiration dates on everything, even at other people's homes. I think it's a form of PTSD.
Do I wish my kids remembered the smells in my kitchen? Probably. The good news is that in this contemporary world, I have found a solution: scented candles. No longer are we limited by the apple-spice scent or the vanilla-bean aromas. Now there is chocolate chip cookie, turkey, yams and a scent of freshly baked bread. The entire Thanksgiving meal can be delivered via candles.
So, as I prepare for my kids coming home, I am lighting the candles. Finally, I am the entire maternal package.