By Tashmica Torok
I do not enjoy cooking. I love to eat and therefore must cook. During our first year together Paul and I muddled through. He could live on peanut butter toast and chocolate milk. I would love to insert a quip about the perpetual child here but I could have lived on the equally nutritious peanut butter and honey sandwich with a hot chocolate. I swear it tastes just like a Reese's Peanut Butter Cup.
I started to master the knowledge I had of pancakes and grilled cheese sandwiches. On the weekends I made raspberry pancakes with raspberries from our garden. I started to browse cookbooks for easy but not boring meals. I wanted my meals like my hairstyles, different every day.
My mother tried to teach me to cook when I was a girl. I was completely disinterested. I knew that I was made for grander things than preparing meals. I would respond with reciting my dreams of the Met in New York . I would have a college degree and a career before I would ever think of settling down to the point where culinary skills would be a necessity. She would listen while she prepped, stirred, washed and dried.
My list would slow and eventually I would be talking to her about school, my newest boyfriend or my college applications. She would offer opinions and encouragement over the stove. I would hand her a measuring cup and relate to her that physics was indeed going to kill me. She would remind me that I was brilliant and that nothing would ever kill me.
I have always thought that a room filled with strong women and love is magical. My magical room has always been the kitchen and now I have my own. Hospitality is a blessing that can soothe a soul. Jesus knew it when he broke bread and passed it to his disciples. I know it when I have a snack prepared for my children when they come home from school.
The kitchen became a place of security for me. It was less about preparing a meal and more about letting my mother remind me of who I was before I had to go out into the world again. The life of a woman can be hard but becoming a woman is even harder. Learning about self-respect, dignity and character in a world where celebrity is the loftiest goal can be like making bread rise without yeast.
My mother accomplished something in my teen years that is the equivalent of climbing Mount Everest in a winter storm. She somehow managed to get her teenage daughter to talk to her. I am still an incompetent in the kitchen. I still tend to start cooking everything on high if I don't watch myself. I just learned to make gravy this year. Culinary skills aside, I do know that my mother loves me.
I wonder what place will be magical for my children and I.
Tashmica Torok is a local entrepreneur, blogger and community activist. Her blog, The Mother Flippin': One Funny Mother, is about encouraging women to improve the world through thoughtful, honest parenting, responsible business practices and advocacy for those less fortunate. And laughter...loads of laughter!
This column was originally printed in the January 2 - January 15, 2011 edition.