My son has requested that we cook at home for Thanksgiving this year. I’m pretty sure that is him taking pity on me. My boyfriend died last year in early November and later that month I dragged myself out for our Thanksgiving tradition of going to a local theme park. They were doing their Christmas stuff already and when the song All I Want for Christmas is You came on the park-wide speaker system, I burst into tears and had to hide in the shark exhibit.
I fucking hate public scenes. I have social anxiety and I never ever do anything that will draw attention to myself. I didn’t say anything, but I was dreading going back this year after being traumatized last year.
When we sat down to discuss plans for the holiday season, he suggested we have a traditional stay at home Thanksgiving. I agreed, but I still think he suggested it because he felt sorry for me.
The last couple of days I’ve been looking for my turkey recipe. It was not where I normally keep my recipes. Or in other places where I looked. We moved in the spring, so I was starting to worry that it had been lost in the shuffle.
My son tells me we ate turkey last Christmas. I have zero recollection of that. The holidays were so full of grief last year the only thing I remember is the public crying on Thanksgiving. I know Christmas must have happened, but I have no memories of it at all. Several months after his death I was solely focused on putting one foot in front of the other to get through another day. Much of that time is still a blur.
Finally, this morning I decided to pull out an old accordion file I have that has recipes in it. This was from the pre-iPad days. I don’t remember the last time I even opened it, but it was my last shot at finding the turkey recipe.
As I start flipping through the recipes, it was like taking a time machine back to when my son was a baby. I got it in my head that I was going to be the kind of mother that I had wanted. That included being someone who cooked and baked all the time.
I. Hate. Cooking.
But when I first became a mother that seemed like a “mom” thing to do so I started trying to make myself become a baker. I tried for many years to be that person — the image of the mom that I thought I should be.
The file was filled with all these different recipes. Some I had printed out. Some I cut from magazines. Some I had apparently purchased or received from somewhere because they were printed out on little cards.
It was funny to look back and see them all. I remember being that person. I was sure that I had to change so much about myself in order to be a good mom. I guess I thought that I needed to be June Cleaver or something. I failed. I never vacuumed in heels. I don’t even own pearls. Sometimes, my kid got a pizza delivery for dinner.
I’m far more realistic now. I’m a good enough mom. That does not mean I have not changed. I learned to be more patient — -okay, I could use some more work on that one. I learned to not sweat the small stuff. I had to learn to pick my battles.
I do cook. I still don’t like it, but the kid needs to eat and I can’t afford take-out for every meal.
The most important thing I do is love my son. He doesn’t need all the fancy recipes I had in that file. He needs me to be there for him. To listen to him. To accept him. I just don’t show my love with homemade granola bars, like I used to think I should. But I know I’m a good mother. Just as he is a good son.
Oh, I found the recipe. It was in that file. I have no clue how it got there. Those other recipes can stay in there in case I ever need another reminder that ending up different than planned doesn’t mean I failed.