I made this salad nine years ago. I remember because I was snowed in, with a boy sleeping over. Dulce was sleeping at another boy’s apartment in my same building. It felt like a tidy sitcom life, where your best friend lives two floors up and people rotate through your door and life, some making repeat special guest appearances. I assembled this salad, put the boy to work, removing bones from the chicken as I blended the Chinese mustard powder with the peanut oil. It was one of eight dishes I cooked that snowy weekend. I don’t remember what the others were, but I think sugar cookies were made from scratch. It was a proud food moment mostly because the boy was new to my world, and he complimented me so often that the compliments eventually turned into soft apologies, for complimenting me too often. He made me feel special.
“I just can’t get over it. This is incredible. You are amazing, Stephanie.” I don’t mean for this entry to take a sad turn—but how nice is that? Not just how complimentary we are at the beginning of things, no. But, how open we are to receiving and accepting compliments, letting them buoy us up. When love is worn, we hear it, but we don’t levitate.
The other day, even, I missed a call from Phil, and there was a text in its place, “I just called because I was thinking how lucky I am that you chose me. I love you. Have a great day!” I smiled and felt an awwww, that was sweet, but it’s never the same infatuation high, the hungry drug.
Intellectually I know that we are all these great adjectives, that people new to us see our shiny attributes most clearly, often because of how we make them feel about themselves. We are amazing and lovely, passionate people with interesting minds and adorable quirks. We commonly forget our charms when we’re not reminded by someone else, often someone new. It’s why when a mother tells her child for the forty-seventh time that her tenacity is remarkable—that what makes her so smart is trying, especially when it’s hard—it sometimes falls on deaf ears. Basically, we as mothers need to continue to say it, like worn lovers, but it’s also our job to live the self-love, to show our children that we don’t need the praise because we know how to give it to, and how to feel it for, ourselves.
Example: I don’t simply tell my daughter that she’s beautiful, that I could stare at her until I’ve memorized her every sigh and sideways glance. I look at myself in the mirror and in lieu of yanking on a roll of stomach pudding, I say aloud to my reflection, “You are beautiful just as you are.” Yes, we women can do it all, simultaneously be a roll model and role mother. On some level we all appreciate acceptance, validation, and praise, but we don’t have to be hungry for it, needy, when we learn to give it to ourselves. I believe that’s part of my job as a role mother.
Also, how does “role mother” or “rolemother” not exist as an actual term or word? I can’t believe it. For one, it rolls off the tongue, even smoother than role model. If it’s never been used, I claim role mother as my own here and now. Mine. Along with wasband, I claim it.
ENTRY CUTS: This post originally began here, but in writing, I realized where the meat began, so I clipped this bit out. I include it here to give a little insight into my editing process, and also because this bit is probably what I’d like to read most in someone else’s post. I like to know what cookbooks people read and to hear how they’re dealing with common life, including the rolls (included amazon affiliate links below)…
Lopsided on my bed is a leaning tower of cookbooks (The Balthazar Cookbook, America’s Test Kitchen Slow Cooker Revolution, Wheat Belly Cookbook, Paleo Comfort Foods, Rachael Ray “My Year in Meals,” Weelicious, The Smitten Kitchen Cookbook), and I’m tucked in with a grocery pad—blank checkboxes organized beneath headings like “produce” and “frozen.” With empty boxes for each day of the week, intended for scribbled dinner plans, I’m challenged to create a weekly menu. Now in a marriage with mostly traditional roles, with a husband who drives to work, while I load backpacks with snacks and later unload the homework, my morning thoughts are often consumed with what to make for dinner. I weed through books for temptations, a balance of time, energy, and what I think I might get away with (Cauliflower rice?). After an extraordinary list is culled, I strike X’s through half the weeknights, knowing well that I’m overambitious, that some nights will fall to leftovers or takeout.
Given that it’s Friday, I want all this planning out of the way, groceries purchased and stowed away, a line of wine bottles at the ready. So, today I head to the pharmacy to pick up hormones and to Costco to buy a roast chicken for the Wolfgang Puck Chinois Chicken Salad in our future. (see beginning)