Panicking (depending on the group of women you are with, it doesn’t do to forget your contribution), I consulted with the hostess, who quickly told me not to bother. She surveyed the mountains of food already there and said, “We’re all mamas — we make too much. We just want to feed everyone!”
You know what? Not this mom right now, not so much. I’m feeling very unmotherly in the feeding department. After more than a decade of being the main person to feeding four, Mom’s food pipeline is running out. I am so ready for other people to fuss over my wellbeing, while I sit around before dinner with a glass of wine.
I’m ready for other people to get agitated when I don’t like some part of my meal. “Oh, you don’t like mushrooms MIXED with your peas. I’ll go back to the kitchen and start over again from scratch!”
Not that I do much of that with my kids any more. I did have a belief when they were very young, influenced by perky parenting magazines, that I should foster a happy dining atmosphere and a love of healthy food. It wasn’t much skin off my nose if I put aside a portion of raw broccoli for the one who doesn’t like cooked broccoli. Broccoli still had to be retrieved out of the refrigerator and cut up.
But after a while, two things happened. My brain began to slow down like an overheated computer. I simply couldn’t keep track of every nuance of who liked what. Secondly, they got older, and even my indulgent mommy self could see that the love of food thing wasn’t working. They wanted ketchup on everything, and they were beginning — gasp — sound like spoiled brats. Enough. It was time for them to graduate to eating everything they were offered without complaint. We’re still working on the complaining part, but these days, it’s more like a news alert.
Then everyone’s health issues stepped in. We discovered one daughter is celiac at about the same time she became a dedicated vegetarian. My menopausal self suddenly discovered I needed to cut out sugar and most carbs. My husband needed to seriously reduce his red meat intake. The remaining girl responded to the increase in tofu and gluten-free products appearing at the dinner table by upping her ketchup intake
Which gets me back to my potluck. I’m not that jazzed about feeding people. I can’t see how the feeding machine is going to rev back up while everyone is still at home, but I could be wrong.
Maybe my non-celiac daughter will graduate to cooking health foods from her current kick of baking huge wheat-flour-based concoctions with no recipe (delicious 50% of the time!).
Maybe my other daughter will stop looking like I’ve asked her to behead a baby seal when I ask her to chop up sweet peppers for dinner (fiddly little seeds inside).
Maybe my husband will decide he wants to explore cuisines of the world every night as a relaxation tool.
I’m expecting a long wait. The photo at the beginning of this post is a little nest of orange peels I noticed on a bench one day. From a distance (actually, I didn’t have my glasses on), it looked like a lovely little orange rose. Close-up, it was still rather cool and seems to have meaning and weight in reference to this post — something used up that has become something beautiful.