Thursday, December 17, 2009

The Education of Me

Last week I had some girl friends over and we shared a fun evening chatting and eating treats.
One of the treats I served was the carrot cake I had made for baby's birthday.
The bottom round cake was left untouched after our family devoured the smaller one the evening before.
So when my friends came I offered them old birthday cake.
I was worried it was a little tacky to serve left over cake, but my fears disappeared as the first lady to taste it took a bite.
"Sara," she said looking straight at me, "I am in LOVE with you!! This is amazing!"
Whew, the cake was still moist and tasty and not all dried out and stale.
She then asked if I had always been such a great cook.
I had to laugh as thoughts of my teenage years came to mind.
No, I have not always been "such a great cook" (her words, not mine!)
One time, when I was a teenager, I wanted to make pesto.
I found a recipe my mom had in one of her cookbooks.
It called for fresh basil.
We didn't have any fresh basil, I had no clue about the difference between fresh and dried and thought I'd just make a simple substitution.
I used dried basil instead.
I used 2 cups of dried basil instead of 2 cups of packed basil leaves.
As you can imagine, it was horrible.
It was beyond horrible.
I look back now and just laugh and am thankful for how far I have come.
My mom was a pretty good cook, when she chose to actually cook.
I remember her making bread by hand, no mixer.
Yet, my mom did not teach me to cook.
There are a lot of things she did not teach me and sometimes it's hard for me not to resent her for not giving me those gifts of knowledge.
She knew how to can fruit, but never showed me how.
She knew how to sew, but I never had a sewing lesson at her hand.
I was talking to a friend of mine about this resentment I sometimes have and she said something very profound to me, something that has stayed with me and helped me to forgive my mother's lack of mothering.
She said that perhaps I value my knowledge of these things, cooking, canning, sewing, even more because I had to work to learn them.
I have spent many, many hours studying healthy cooking, how to preserve food, not as much with sewing, but it is coming.
I had to be the one to seek the knowledge, then put it into practice all on my own. There have been many meals that were flops along the way, ask my children.
I have opened jars of homemade jam to find them rancid.
I have sewn pants for Doodle that had one leg longer than the other.
But they were MY mistakes.
I learned what the problem was because I wanted to do better.
I did not give up at the first sign of a mistake.
This knowledge is mine.
I have ownership.
Now it takes very little effort to whip out a nice, tasty, healthy meal.
I enjoy making fresh jam and apple sauce.
I am still learning.
I still seek out new recipes and how I can modify them to meet our family's needs.
I am still a work in progress, but I am enjoying the journey!


Karen said...

This is very profound!

I remember once in college, before I went up to Utah, I called my dad to ask if I could BORROW money for a text book. He said I'd appreciate my education a lot more if I paid for it myself. And then he went and wrote a tuition check to pay for my baby brother's Private Kindergarten.

I resented my little brother and sister for a long time. I love them, but there was resentment. Until one day when I was visiting. And I realized that I am deeply grateful for everything I've earned, but also absolutely everything I'm given. I have learned so much about gratitude through eeking out a living. My little sibs...yeah, they really don't understand the concept of doing without.

I guess I do have to thank my dad, after all.

Linda Schaffer said...

Your Mom not teaching you things reminds me of what my Grandma told me about her childhood. She was the youngest child, born when her Mom was in her 40's and there was a big space of years between her and her older siblings. Her Mom (my Great-Grandma) just didn't have the energy to teach her things like baking and sewing (and back then those abilities may have been more crucial than they are now). So my Grandma had to teach herself many things, too. The knowledge gap has come down through the generations, but now that I'm a mother, I can say, "the buck stops here" and teach my own children as much as I can. I don't have all the skills I wish I could give them, but what I do know, I'm determined to pass on!

The Lazy Organizer said...

You're an amazing woman who will never give up. That just happens to be my favorite quality in a friend.