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Posts Tagged ‘cooking’

Some days, I just want to scream.

Most days, I want to scream. But some days, that want becomes a need.

Today was one of those days: the “want” was born out of last weekend, when I spent far more time driving around, chasing down various food or recipe ingredients for my daughter’s wacky diet and expensive palate than I would have liked. I have a paper due in my Globalization in Education class, and I had imagined completing it over the weekend and being done with it.

Even after four or five years of getting my plans squashed into the dust without a moment’s notice, my imagination continues to be a healthy optimist.

After driving around most of the South Bay on Friday for one thing or another, I could have told my daughter I was done on Saturday. She is rarely selfish, even though she has every justification to be so, and even more rarely unappreciative of what it takes to care for her. But…cooking, the ideas for recipes, the planning, the research, the entire process of it–that’s what makes her happy. It’s what has always made her happy: she was in the kitchen inventing recipes by the time she was three. She couldn’t read yet, but wouldn’t be able to, not really, for several years, but it didn’t matter, and I never made it matter. I opened the cupboards and we talked about ingredients: flour and sugar, spices, sauces, acids, oils, She asked questions I usually didn’t even know the answers to, because I had honestly never thought about why chocolate chip cookies flattened if you left them in the oven too long or made them too large. I had never considered why shortening was better then butter in pie crusts. If there is one place I follow the rules, it is in the kitchen.

I love food, but I’m not exactly picky. I don’t eat bugs, things with heads, or live things. Otherwise, if I’m hungry, I will at least try it. In fact, I don’t even have to be hungry. It just has to include chocolate of some sort, frosting of any kind, or salt.

But she was. And so I let her figure things out. Yes, her process made a mess of the kitchen frequently, and her recipes were often inedible for one reason or another. But she delighted in everything she made, and she learned from everything she made. I was still making things the way I had always made them, and along came this five year old who started to tell me how to make them better….I was thrilled. I had fallen in love with her father in part because he made me cookies when we were just flirting and bought me Rice Krispie treats from the food trucks on College Avenue and made me stew for one of our early dates. The way to my heart has always been through my stomach, and here was my daughter, wanting to take over in the kitchen.

If I had never loved her before then–which was certainly not the case, but if I hadn’t–I would have fallen in love with her then. I’d happily clean up after her for the rest of my life if I never had to set foot in the kitchen again.

Of course, she was five, her interest waxed and waned, so I did, in fact, step foot into the kitchen repeatedly for many years.

And then she started to get sick.

The inner chef in her went to work: she broke down everything we ate and replaced ingredients. I may not have been the greatest chef, but I’d always ensured we ate fairly healthy–little to no junk food, or junk food made out of kale, juice without added sugar, dessert was not a staple, little to no fast food. We ate homemade dinners most nights during the week. We’d also been gluten and dairy free by that point, due to intolerances for all of us. But Autumn was determined to figure out the cause of her stomach pains, bloating and severe constipation and diarrhea.

When nothing worked, and she only continued to be in more pain and her health declined, she turned away from food. She felt it had betrayed her. She also felt like a failure.

That feeling didn’t get any better when I took her to Seattle Children’s Hospital and they diagnosed her with an eating disorder without so much as listening to our story.

She did have an eating disorder. She and I were happy to admit that. But it wasn’t because she thought she was fat or ugly. She was, in fact, 85 pounds and hated her body for betraying her. She wanted to eat, and she did eat, as much as she could, but it hurt, and some days she would lie on the floor and scream after eating.

She and I did the best we could with little information and absolutely no medical assistance.

She put on weight in SCH, because they wouldn’t let her move, and they shoved food down her stomach 3 times a day. She cried after every meal, sometimes screamed. They didn’t care. She wanted to scream after every meal; some days, she told me, the want became a need, and I would hold her in my arms while she would scream into my shirt or a pillow. They had told her if she kept screaming, they would move her to a ward where I wasn’t allowed to go. So she screamed in silence.

After Seattle Children’s, Autumn went back to the kitchen. She was determined she would beat whatever was going on, and the hospital had convinced her it was all in her head. That conviction would lurk beneath everything she did and said and thought and felt until the day she was diagnosed with Lyme. But she never left the kitchen. Cooking became all she had. When she couldn’t eat, she cooked for me. She would often cook for her brother, but he wasn’t fond of her attempts to get him to eat more vegetables and less meat.

Her delight is plain on her face when she is talking about food or a recipe or modifications to something that didn’t work. She talks food, dreams food, breathes food. She has had to drag in chairs to sit on while she cooks, or more recently, laid on the floor with her feet up to try and reduce the inflammation while waiting for something to boil. But while she cannot control what her body is doing from one day to the next, she can control her recipes: in the kitchen, she forgets, for a little while, about the truth of her life.

So, when she is having a good day, and she wants to find rare gluten free ingredients to create something she has a taste for, I will drive her to the ends of the earth.

I forget, for a little while, about the truth of her life.

And mine.

I do not deny I was meant to be a mother. Motherhood was another piece to the puzzle of me. But being a caretaker? A nurse? That’s a whole different level of maternal skill. Not all mothers can be nurses, and not all nurses can be mothers. I fully planned on being emotionally available to my children for the rest of my life. I just thought that, at some point, I wouldn’t have to be so very physically, mentally and emotionally available to them.

Some weeks are harder then others. The problem with being a mom, and a caretaker, is that much of the time, even if we have a partner, we have to scream in silence. Not out of fear that we will be taken from our children. But out of fear that if we start, we will not stop.

Today, I woke up wanting to scream. By tonight, after a clinic appointment went from twenty minutes to two hours because the home health nurse kinked the picc line yesterday, after my daughter’s babesia-induced migraine caused her to be both whiny, dramatic and demanding, after the dog got it up in his butt that running around the apartment barking like a lunatic was a great idea, after I went into my daughter’s bathroom–which I usually try not to do but it was unavoidable tonight–after I thought we were “done” for the night so I settled down to watch an online concert…..only to have the picc line jam again during an infusion and the dog being an ass and there being no chocolate in the apartment…..

The want to scream became a need.

I fixed my daughter’s picc line and restarted the infusion. I did 85 situps and 110 crunches and 48 pushups. I took the dog outside to run off his looniness. And I tilted my head back towards the stars and breathed.

It wasn’t screaming. But I was tired from the pushups, which was exactly the point, and the air was cool against my cheeks. My dog looked like an idiot horse amusing himself with his own tail, and the night was calm.

The need to scream settled back into a low humming want in the back of my mind.

Tomorrow I will be able to sleep in a little later, and I have no classes. I can finish my paper and take care of my daughter and even clean her bathroom without puking. Probably.

Maybe tomorrow will be a day I won’t need to scream.

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There are pink blobs that look suspiciously like human flesh congealing in my copper sink.  I am both grossed out and fascinated.  Neither of the children appear to be missing chunks of flesh.  I suppose it could be from a friend (one of my daughter’s, definitely; son has none, he assures me, although whether to exact pity from me or to ward off that look in my eye he recognizes as ‘you need social time’ IDK), but no friends have been here for a few days so I’d think some mother would notice.  Certainly other mothers are more on top of things then me.

I poke at the “flesh.”  It dissolves under my prodding and leaves a smear of pink on my fingertip.  I taste it.

Oh, don’t judge; my kids are 15 and 11; even if it is flesh, I’m sure I’ve tasted/eaten worse, or at the very least, as bad. Don’t pretend none of you ever got sprayed in the face when you were talking by your infant son who joyfully urinated every single time you changed his diaper.  My own brother did that to me when I was six.

The suspicious pink tastes like strawberries.

“GIRLLLLLL!” I call for my daughter.

It’s July.  They’ve been out of school for 4 1/2 weeks.  Their names ceased to matter sometime after Week Three.

“Yes, Mommy?” she says in her suspiciously ‘I Am a Perfect Child’ voice.

“What were you doing with the strawberries?”

“Ohhhh….making smoothies,” she says in that same sticky sweet voice.  I would buy it completely if I weren’t her mother and also heard her mouthing off to me like a 37 year old waitress at a truck stop only fifteen minutes before. Not that I wonder for a second where she gets her mouth from.

“You said I should make my own lunch,” she said.  “You even got out the blender for me.  Remember?”

I do.  It was yesterday, and after I had various conversations with both of them in which I used various obscenities as nouns, verbs, pronouns, and adjectives interchangeably, I hid in my room for much of the day and watched ‘Crossing Jordan’ reruns.  I used to love that show. Now, with fresh eyes as a mother of a teenager and a pre-teen, I realize how much my beloved Jordan, Nigel, Bug, Lily and Macy created their own drama and continually went back for more.

The show now makes me feel so much better about my own life.

At least, until I find alleged bits of flesh shining prettily against my copper sink.

But hey, GirlChild tried something new. That’s fabulous!  She can add smoothies to her budding kitchen skills.  She also does a darn good job cleaning up the kitchen, as a general rule.  I’m sure the smoothie/flesh was just overlooked.

The BoyChild, however, is another issue.

“Teenager!” I screech own the stairs.

In the second of my double copper sinks is a pile of rice.  Not, by the way, in the sink with the disposal.

“I’m sorrrryyyyyy,” Teenager says after climbing the stairs from his lair like Rip Van Wrinkle after being awoken.  He happily does any and every chore I give him, but otherwise he doesn’t leave his lair very much.  It’s difficult being 15, for some more than others.  I was 15 once.  It wasn’t easy. Still.

“I forgggottttt, OK?” Teenager says.  “I can’t be expected to remember these things!  How am I supposed to tell the difference?  They’re both sinks.  They both look the same.”

We’ve gone over this.  And over this and over this and over this.  I don’t know how many more &*$@*%( times I can explain to my 15 year old, who is not an idiot, the difference between right and left.  He was doing OK for awhile.  Then he forgot again, I guess.  He did ask me to put a sign above the sinks, like I placed on the piano so my daughter could find Middle C.  I protested: he knows major specific details and statistics about every single  &*$@*%( war ever fought on this planet.  He is teaching himself &*$@*%( Japanese and French.  He remembers quotes from movies we haven’t seen in five &*$@*%( years.  And he can’t tell the &*$@*%( difference between the &*$@*%( sink with the &*$@*%( disposal and the &*$@*%( sink with just the &*$@*%( drain?

Apparently &*$@*%( not.

&*$@*%(

Off the wagon again.

I breathe.  I smile.  We go over it again.  He cleans the rice out of the sink for me and plops it in the disposal side.  He promises to remember.  I smile some more and pat him on the back.

I’m totally making a &*$@*%( sign.

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