November 22, 2013
Searching through recipes the other day, desperate for a comforting, healthy soup to make, I was stunned to see how many recipes I actually have in my possession. Even if I chose to cook three times a day, seven days a week for the rest of my life, I could never cook every recipe I have. And given that I definitely do not choose to cook that much, it is highly unlikely that most of these will ever be made.
17 years of being a somewhat traditional stay-at-home mom and wife, I cooked all the time and loved it. I took special pride and pleasure in feeding my family. It was important to me to cook food they would love that I also knew was nourishing their bodies in the best way possible. This was a role I took very seriously.
Standing in my pantry looking at the stacks of somewhat organized recipes, I was stunned and a touch sad. It was a moment of remembering that a phase in my life had definitively passed. Being single for over five years, this wasn’t a new revelation. It was something I had not thought of for a while and it registered deeper this time.
It was a separate realization to experience how it felt from where I stand in my life now. It was wonderful to see that true healing had happened over time. Even one year ago this realization would have hurt more. No one prepared me to handle transitions in life. Daily routines, which you take for granted, may abruptly end without warning. Then suddenly, a time in your life has passed and you can only look back on it. These were the thoughts running through my mind standing in that pantry.
I still miss those days and certainly miss having a house full to cook for; and I really enjoy my time alone now too. I do not miss the pressure of cooking every night. For a single girl, a salad or cheese quesadilla with guacamole is just fine. It is wonderful when my girls are home and ask me to make a special meal for them. And this Thanksgiving, they’ve proposed we cook a special meal together which is even better!
Part of me wanted to purge and recycle most of what was there. Put the past truly behind me into the recycling bin. Then another part spoke and said “leave this for another day” and that felt better. Just because that time is done and I am at peace with it doesn’t mean I’m ready to let it all go. That will be an afternoon of more reminiscing and appreciating the mother I have been and continue to be…in different ways now.
I love that I still have that nurturing cook as a part of me. There have been recent occasions where I had an opportunity to cook for a large table of teens. My heart reveled in cooking, sitting together, and seeing everyone gobble up every bite. If I am honest, there is still part of me that longs for a large family that enjoys gathering together. For all I know, that opportunity may come again and those recipes may be needed.
I think I’ll hang onto them a little longer.