A governance board that I sit on held a recent retreat at the Fantasyland Hotel at the West Edmonton Mall. Because I’m quite new to this group and our regular meetings are months apart, I didn’t know my colleagues very well.
Luckily, breaking bread with people is a time-honoured tradition for increasing comfort levels and getting to know one other. That was as true at L2 Grill and in our meeting room as it was when cave dwellers shared roots, berries, and the odd woolly game.
The tasty, hot meals and coffee time snacks provided by the hotel catering staff were a big hit with all present. We all drooled over a particularly large and decadent dessert: a wedge of raspberry pie with a latticework pastry top, served with the requisite dollop of whipped cream, puddle of sauce, and stick of white chocolate, all artfully arranged.
This delicious conclusion to the meal got a couple of the men sitting near me reminiscing about their mothers? baking and some of their favourite treats. The memories were vivid and warm, the details as clear as though it had all happened yesterday.
Finally I could stand it no longer. I said, ?If I knew how excited middle-aged men got remembering their mother’s cooking, I’d have tried harder as a mother!?
They looked at me and burst into laughter. When the laughter subsided they asked, ?How old are your kids? What do they remember, macaroni and cheese??
As much as I enjoy providing a laugh in any situation, I was also deadly serious. These men are a decade or two older than my 33-year-old son. But I dare say he couldn’t conjure up any sentimental (or other) memories about any particular dish or dessert I might have prepared during his childhood. Though he does get emotional when talking about his Baba’s perogies and pereshke.
As expected, this mother felt guilty. I wondered whether my kids had been cheated of vital memories and were forever scarred. My baking adventures were pretty well limited to banana bread when I couldn’t stand the waste of overripe bananas, and some muffins when zucchini the size of a small baby were foisted upon me.
I have to console myself with the notion, the prayer, really, that I was able to do other things that dazzled and impressed my kids. Surely to God, food isn’t the only way to a child’s heart! But maybe I underestimate my kids?and myself.
Does it count that I had many roles in the public eye? That I operate a combine every fall? That I wrote a book? That I role model a happy marriage? That I am a well-intentioned woman who did what she could? It’ll have to, from where I sit.