The month of May brings Mother’s Day and Mother’s Day brings meals, and memories.
I believe that Mother’s Day is every day. What perhaps makes the day we choose to mark as her day different, or special, is that we try to relieve our mums of all house duties for that day, especially the cooking.
Ask anyone what they’re doing for Mother’s Day and they’ll tell you that apart from buying mum presents, or flowers, they’re taking her out to lunch with the family. That’s the centerpiece of the day, the meal.
But why is having a meal on Mother’s Day so special? What does it really mean or say? Why can’t an extravagant gift be enough?
Because a meal is a symbol of love, it signifies family and togetherness and we often identify one person that embodies this a mother.
In her book, The Surprising Power of Family Meals, Mariam Weinstein, says, “A family meal is important because it gives children reliable access to their parents. It provides anchoring for everyone’s day. It emphasizes the importance of the family, nonverbally.” I think when we gather for family meals, such as on Mother’s Day it reminds us that we are a part of something special – a family.
Mothers are remarkable creatures of resourcefulness, especially in the kitchen. They can stretch, adjust “and make things do.”
Growing up, I’d watch my mother add potatoes to a stew or curry to ‘stretch the meat’ or add vegetables to scrambled eggs to make us feel as if we’re having a lot – or maybe, that was her smart way of getting us to eat our vegetables, hmm… She had tricks too, which I eventually learned, like filling my glass with ice then pouring my drink. Such ingenuity is not just born out of the need to provide but also to nurture and love.
They spend endless hours shopping, chopping, mixing, baking… all with one aim – to nourish their loved ones, body and soul.
My mother always made everything from scratch. In those days, not many things came in cans, were pre-cut, already shelled or marinated. Rotisserie chickens were not being sold in supermarkets; there was no sandwich-deli section, in-store cafeterias or any of the conveniences the modern day cook can fall back on. She worked and then headed home to cook.
At meal time, we catch up on each other’s lives, we argue, we make up, we advise, we console, we give thanks, we share, we toast one another, we remember why we like or don’t like these gatherings, memories are recalled. It’s the memories that we cherish, the memories that live on.
It’s not just the memories but also the lessons we learn. I remember sharing with this with you a few years ago:
I was told very early in my life that if I am going to do anything, I must do it to the best of my abilities. It is advice that I have followed always and in all spheres of my life, personally and professionally. I got that from my mother. One of the most cherished compliments I got from my mother was 6 years ago. Yes, it is that memorable.
It was a Saturday morning, mom was visiting and I had just returned home from the market. I set about wrapping and putting away the vegetables, herbs and meat I had bought. I wrapped the herbs in damp paper towels then placed them in bags. I took things a step further by labeling the parcels so I would know which herb was in which bag. Removing the fridge bins, I packed in the vegetables and herbs. Parceling out the meat, I put them into freezer bags and labeled them by their cuts (and date) – roast, chops etc.
The fruits were rinsed, pat dry and placed into a basket on the countertop – all of these activities were done in clear view of my mother sitting at a table not far away. Then, I heard my mother’s voice, “You really know how to do things properly.” I turned and looked at her, for a moment I did not know what to say, I felt shy, but then I found my voice. I smiled and looking directly into her eyes, I said, “I learnt from the best.” I will never forget that moment.
Even now as I write this… my eyes well up with tears. Ah, mothers and daughters and their relationships. Today, I still bask in the glow of that compliment. By golly I have met some of my mother’s high standards even if it is only in the kitchen. I am grateful and thankful.
Mealtime is bonding time; it is the glue that keeps the family together. And so every Mother’s Day that families gather for that special meal, at home or in a restaurant, what they are doing is toasting, celebrating, congratulating, cuddling, and loving the woman who has helped to make their journey through life, memorable.
Happy Mother’s Day Mommy!