Is today Tuesday?
All of a sudden I can’t remember. I was sure it was Monday yesterday, I was ready for it. A long weekend with everyone home, I was ready for the day of silence, me who likes a lot of solitude. But today feels like Monday. Because today I ended up texting a friend about my existential breakdown about what the eff am I doing with my life? And, also, Aaron had a really good day. So … makes sense. We balance each other out this way. When he’s high, I seem to slip into the dangerous closet of Not Enough, Never Will Be, Who Do You Think You Are.
This feels overdone on this site. I know I circle this dead carcass on a regular basis. Jodi needs to light the fire again so we’re going to go round and round with pep-rallies about kumbaya moments – and can we all just hold hands and love each other?
Well, can’t we?
Right. So, today. I’m a little terrified, a little unsure of whats next. It’s a little overwhelming. I could go back to school, I could intern or volunteer, I could go back to work where I left when Jessica was born, I could do anything.
I could solo-preneur it, but this is what I know: I work best in collaborative spaces. In teams, I work well with other people. I can work alone, but that only lasts for so long – and the whole idea of working for me is to be with other people, not to be by myself anymore.
It’s good to know this much. It gives me the essential questions to ask when I’m considering jobs and positions. All of this while I was driving by homes today, because that’s still a thing. I’m still redoing houses, only, well, we haven’t bought one yet.
It’s Monday isn’t it? This is a joke, right? I’m being punked.
No? Cool. I love being an adult. The day turned around when the kids got home from school and instead of the begging for screen time of some sort they asked for Christmas music and got the markers out.
We spent hours dancing to Christmas carols and coloring (I folded laundry … ) and tonight was the Parade of Lights in Holland – which we go to every year. So I was a little anxious about Aaron’s arrival home and dinner and timing and … well. I love this stuff.
I put some potpourri on the stove and the house smelled like Christmas. It was glorious.
I still had some leftover stock from the clams over the weekend so I grabbed some shrimp from the freezer and pulled out Dinner: A Love Story for a recipe, I added some veggies to my clam/curry stock and rice noodles and dinner was served.
We made it to the parade in time to see all the lights and meet up with friends. All in all, today was a good Tuesday.
My mom has this code she uses in her cook books to rate the recipes she’s tried. She writes V.G. on most of her recipes and when I was a little girl I thought this meant “VanderGriend” for her maiden name. I just assumed that this was a recipe her mom had tried, or something of that sort. But as I got older I learned that V.G. meant “Very Good” – as in, this was a recipe to keep around. There’s one in her arsenal with a note about how all 4 of her kids hated it so much we all agreed to go to bed early (wild rice something or other and I will never buy wild rice, ever).
I started using this code shortly after we got married thinking I could just bring my childhood recipes into this new life and it would be smooth sailing. Little did I know, Aaron loved what I made, but not in the quantity or constant rotation I had such a passion for. All of a sudden the kitchen I grew up with wasn’t enough, and it had always been enough. My mom was Betty Crocker, I grew up on homemade potato chips. But Aaron wanted to try a protein other than chicken. He liked seafood, spice, variety.
It was all together terrifying and completely freeing at the same time. To have permission to leave and cleave in such a substantial way but also to stray too far from the only roots I had: it was a process.
I didn’t grow up day dreaming about these kinds of things. I never imagined my wedding until it was time to have one, I didn’t fancy myself a career woman (although there was a short stint of Boston based dreams I was pursuing), I was a dreamer – that’s for sure. But not for things like what kind of cook or kitchen I would want. I didn’t think about things beyond wanting to have babies. And I wanted babies. Seven would have been ok with me. I wanted to be a mom, like my mom. I wanted to be my mom, basically.
And she’s great (I love you) but I had no idea that I was pursuing something that couldn’t be replicated, even though I tried for so many years.
So when her code for recipes, tried and true, didn’t stick I had to decide what was going to. What was I going to bring with me? The knowledge of how to use yeast, that I will never forget. When to knead and what it feels like to work the dough into a agreeable mass of heartwarming bread. I’ll never forget the secret to great chocolate chip cookies or that fact that she doesn’t stray from a recipe (where I go off the path on a daily basis). Every time I pick up after my kids I think of all the times I left my cereal bowl on the coffee table and how it magically disappeared. (same with laundry, mom … thank you.)
It’s taken me this many years of housekeeping and childrearing to selflessly just do the work. I don’t know how long it took my mom but she hasn’t stopped. I’ll bring that with me. I’ll defer to her, first, on any question in the kitchen. I taught her how to make lobster but she’s taught me how to bring my family to the table. She taught me how to listen to my kids after school and what disarms them better than anything: food. When you only ever hear “fine” how to make the house smell like peanut butter swirl bars and then they come clamoring for a piece … how they’ll just start talking when their mouth is full of something special.
I love this legacy and I’m proud to have a part in it for my own children but today taught me something. I can clamor against all the odds and keep myself in the comfort zone of the safety net of what worked yesterday and be ok. That will always be ok. Everyone around me lets me get away with this.
Or I could get up and just keep going?
Farther … than ever before.
And I think that’s what I’m trying to do. One mess at a time.
Because waiting for perfect is just