By Emily Morrison
On any given Monday afternoon you can find me in the grocery store looking like I’m about to run an old lady down with my cart as I attempt to buy 30 items in a 14 item check out. You can see that sense of panic in my eyes, that deer in the headlight look while I stare at the numbers hanging above the aisles like they’ll magically tell me what I’m forgetting.
Damn all those people who make lists and color coordinate their produce, meat and dairy needs on spreadsheets I can only dream about.
I’m just not that person, not yet anyway.
I’m the gal who prefers to frantically ransack her brain as she bumps into bacon displays asking, “What in God’s name are we having for supper tonight? Bacon?”
On Mondays, I almost always jump the gun on Taco Tuesdays. In my family, we are bold food rule breakers. We have tacos on Mondays and Tuesdays. In fact, Maco Mondays have become the norm in our household.
One of my children is vegan, another is an extremely picky eater and the third will eat anything that’s not nailed down, so our list of essentials has exponentially multiplied. Maco Mondays now require vegetarian refried beans, black beans, tofu, hamburger and turkey burger for those who no longer eat red meat.
It’s a whole big thing and getting bigger as the kids, well, get bigger.
Usually, at the start of the week, I’m relatively caught up with the weekend’s grading. I’ve got a jumpstart on lesson planning, and there’s a little more time in the evening to do the grocery shopping, the housework, the kids’ homework, the whole shebang.
Oh, who am I kidding? I’m still hopelessly behind. There’s just no end to the vicious cycle that is working momhood. On this particular Monday, I had too much to do: too much grading, too much writing, too much whining, and I decided to do something totally crazy — I asked my children to help me in the kitchen.
My oldest has been making her own vegan meals for the last six months, so she’s no slouch with a spatula, but my other two consider themselves cooks when they open the fridge or the cabinet and put something already made on a plate.
I pried the 15-year-old from her phone, my son lugged in the groceries, and then I started barking out orders like a short order cook.
“You, turn on the oven. You, get out a frying pan. You, wash your hands.”
After instructing them on how to cut a pepper, fry up some meat and microwave the corn, a funny feeling came over me as we bumped elbows and backsides and reached around each other.
Peace. Calm. Wonder. Why have we never done this before?
Is this what I’m going to miss when they’re all gone, this feeling of fullness and barely controlled chaos? Will it still feel like this when they come home to visit? Will they say, “Mom, remember that time we made tacos together, and it was the best Maco Monday ever?”
I don’t know how you can miss a moment even when you’re in it, but the closer my kids get to that magical age of goodbye, the more I miss them. I can be fully immersed in the present and then the thought creeps in, “Wow, how lucky am I that at the end of my day and all of the things I have to do, this is one thing I get to do?”
How many people are surrounded by so much happiness, even during these little things? Maybe it’s because of the little things. Maybe happiness isn’t in the big stuff, but in the small, quiet moments when one child asks the other, “Did you really just pour half a thing of chili powder into the frying pan?”
I don’t know if they’ll remember these Mondays the way I’ll remember them, but I hope they remember this. I hope they remember that everything we made together tasted better than anything I ever made them on my own.
I hope they remember how we made it together.