There is one day when the stove and I aren’t friends, where the skillet looks at me with suspicion, and the kitchen might as well be cordoned off in yellow crime scene tape. It is on this day that I am forced, even though my maternal clock has insisted I rise at 6:30 and no later, to stay in bed and feign leisure. It has a fuzzy metallic taste, leisure. I use all my brain power to try and recall what it truly feels like; to sleep in, to take a long shower, to go to the gym in the middle of the day just because. That all evaporated many moons ago when a bundle with chunky cheeks, beautiful eyes and a persistent squirminess was handed to me in a hospital room over eleven years ago. ‘You are a mother now,’ the bundle seemed to proclaim, as I held her in a panic, wondering what the hell to do next.
But I stuck it out and the kid grew on me. Enough to have another, this one a son equally as cute and blessed with those same damn long eyelashes (ones I try, I try, I try to duplicate and never come even remotely close to getting.)
So I dove into my dizzying whirlwind of motherhood; of pampering and nurturing, cuddling and fixing, demanding and guiding and on and on and on until, before I knew it the clock has fast forwarded in a frenzied rate to eleven years later.
So on this day, Mother’s Day, I am commanded to relax. I lie stiff on my bed, attempting to remember leisure, as my two children and their father wreak havoc on my culinary turf, just as all children and their fathers do on Mother’s Day. I imagine burnt toast and spilled orange juice and bits of sugary cereal drowning in insane amounts of tepid milk. But I forget, how easily I forget, that these children are a bit of me, and that in this house there is no sugary cereal to speak of and instead, while I pretend to sleep and wonder, feverishly wonder, ‘what the hell is going on out there?’ the three of them have it covered, so covered.
Husband is already brewing my Venezuelan espresso coffee while Daughter will be gently simmering the slices of lox that will be carefully added to the slow-cooked scrambled eggs she specializes in making just like my mother (whom she’s never met) used to. Her brother will argue, adamantly argue (because they regularly get into discussions of this sort) as to which herb to pick from the garden for Mom’s eggs: the dill or the chives.
My son will demand it be dill, because he is a traditionalist at heart and dill and lox are married in flavor. My daughter likes life a bit more piquant and will insist on the way chives tease the egg and lox out of their comfort zone. My husband will proudly and quietly observe this rigorous dialogue worthy of a United Nations assembly. A tear or two will quickly form in his eyes; he wears his heart on his sleeve; that’s one of the things I most tease him about (and most love him for) and then, ultimately, they will all decide in a very kid-like manner: flipping a coin or a game of rock-paper-scissor. They will be respectful of said decision. They will be gracious about the victorious herb and move on to other aspects of the dish (plating, flowers, notes and homemade gifts: all to celebrate my lack of leisure.) I lie and await a meal that will be memorably theirs and delicious because of it. There will be nothing burnt, for they have been intuitive observers and willing participants in my kitchen over the years.
The three of them will hobble noisily to my room to ‘wake me’ with a tray full of love and culinary bravado and I will act surprised and inhale the comforting and salty aroma of butter, eggs and lox and I will see a lovely family, my lovely family, by my side. My husband will hand me my coffee (because he knows I must have a sip of this elixir first) and I will feel lucky, so very lucky, that for this I have forgotten the meaning of leisure.