What’s Food Got To Do With It?
A few weeks ago, I wrote a post “I feel you Maleficent“. This post was about my challenges in being organized as a primary caregiver while working-from-home.
It somewhat described the hills and valleys of my weeks. Last week being both a hill and a valley. It was one of those weeks when managing my commitments and time was tested. I was looking forward to a visit from friends from overseas as well as Talisa’s sixteenth birthday celebrations. We also had a fiftieth birthday party to attend that same Saturday before our friends were expected to arrive. There was shopping to be done and sleeping arrangements to be made, and a pending decision on how to celebrate Talisa’s birthday.
When I was younger, I couldn’t quite figure out how to be both a mother to a child with high needs as well as to fulfill the expectations on me because I was an Indian woman. Everyone took for granted that I must be able to cook up a storm and somehow that was a mark of accomplishment for a woman. While other people have been precious about ingredients and the way food must be served, I have only ever been precious about time.
How much time did it take to cook? How much time do I have to get Savannah ready? How much time do I have to race through the shops before I need to collect a child from school? How much time before Savannah has a meltdown? Eventually I would cancel the arrangements at the last moment because I just couldn’t cope. Then I lived with regret that I cancelled and the guilt that I was not living up to some imagined standard.
I was anxious because I thought that I had to impress people with my culinary skills. While no one said they expected that, it was hard not to feel this way. Socializing around food was something my extended family and friends enjoyed, and I did not have that in common with them.
Food is a sensitive subject in many families, and I suppose in a few other cultures too. When I was growing up, I remember the fabulous dishes my mother cooked. She is an outstanding caterer both in cooking and baking. But I also remember how tired she was afterwards and how she rarely ever sat with her guests and enjoyed them. So much of entertaining was about presenting the food and eating it at exactly the right temperature. She would leave the dinner table often to refill serving dishes and then afterwards she would be busy clearing it all away.
I knew I couldn’t do all of that she did and still be true to myself, yet I did like to entertain and I wanted some sort of organisation on how to do that so that it worked for my lifestyle. Over the years, as I’ve learnt to accept that I am not Wonder Woman nor do I have to be, I have also learnt to be confident in being true to my own abilities as an hostess. I had to juggle being a caregiver and a person who loved to entertain, and I had to figure out what that looked like for myself.
I made a choice to take every opportunity to live in the moment when possible. I will cook delicious meals with heart, when I have the time and energy: that could mean Breyani for my household on a weekday when Savannah sleeps until two in the afternoon, or samoosas and a packets of chips and biltong for guests when she is awake from four in the morning. But mostly whatever I was going to do, I would do with heart and with much respect and kindness to the cook (myself) and the guests.
So that being the background; when my friends visited we had an amazing twenty four hours of food, laughter and friendship. My mum prepared all the main dishes and Michael and I prepared the side dishes and snacks. We had returned from Kwa-Zulu Natal that morning after attending a funeral, and had not slept much in three days.
A few years ago, I would have dreaded having people over when everything wasn’t as perfect as I wanted it to be. But I now know very well that people are always more important than things and a moment passed never returns.
I miss out on many events and pass up many invitations because of my unusual work commitments and being Savannah’s primary caregiver. Therefore when the opportunity is within my scope to entertain and be around people I love it and I grab it with both hands and all my heart.
I was energized by my friends and by the time they left, I was inspired enough to turn my attention to Talisa’s birthday celebrations. She did not want a party and eventually I made a few easy platters for our families who visited Talisa.
It is my tradition that I never buy their cupcakes for school celebrations, and always make them myself. This year was no exception and I made Chocolate Fudge Cupcakes for Talisa to take to school.
With that was done, the children off to school and Savannah still asleep; I made breakfast for myself with a large mug of white cappuccino, sat in my favourite spot and watched the movie “The Light Between Oceans”.
I loved that I regretted nothing!
I hope that you feel free to cook up a storm or …not.
More so I hope that you give yourself and the women around you the freedom to do the same.