What Was Your Favorite Home Cooked Meal As A Kid?

Every Saturday in 2013 I’ll be sharing a post for the Mom Before Mom project. The goal is to tell the stories of life before motherhood, the stories which root the woman in every mother. So much of memory keeping is focused on capturing our children’s experience but what of our own? Who will capture the mother’s journey as a woman? Who will honor our journey if we don’t honor it first? Every week I’ll be answering a question, journaling my life stories. Read along or write along with the wonderful bloggers linking up every week.

mother's journey as a womanOriginal image by aussiegal via Flikr.

Prompt #3: What was your favorite home cooked meal as a kid? Did you help make it? How did it make you feel? Share the scents and sights and flavors.

Does dessert count? It’ll have to because my mother’s rice pudding is the thing of legends. I would it eat all day long whenever she made it. I cannot in any real way convey to you how spectacular it is.

I never helped make it or any other dishes my mom prepared. She wasn’t very good at sharing her kitchen. And really, I didn’t quite have the attention span back then to stand by the stove for hours. Once she agreed to show me and let me help her make the rice pudding. I stood there asking her how much to put in, looking for measuring utensils. She looked at me bewildered and just started pouring in things without measuring.

She opened a can of condensed milk and poured it in. She opened another and eyeballed a bit more to put in. I spooned out the rest. She told me I could stand there and stir. After what seemed like forever, I asked her how long and she said until it’s done. Yeah, I left then.

She doesn’t really cook much anymore because her body doesn’t allow her to stand for long periods of time. Once in a blue moon, though, she still musters up the energy to make her famous rice pudding. It’s so dear and near to me that I’ve thought I need to learn how to make it before she dies. She’s not dying anytime soon (she’s not ill just older in age) but it’s a thought I’ve had for a long time. I feel some relief knowing my daughters have tasted the magic and are as enchanted by it as I am. So if I never perfect her recipe, then at least I’ll have loved ones to reminisce with about the flavors. Is it weird to think like that?

Sweet, smooth, cinnamon-y. Unlike most rice pudding, you barely notice the rice granules. They’re so plump and moist, they almost disappear. It tastes amazing steaming hot out of the pot, cold out of the fridge, tepid at room temperature, with cinnamon sprinkled on top, licked off a plate, in a mug, with a small spoon for lengthy enjoyment, with a large spoon for maximum flavor in short amounts of time. Any way you consume it, her rice pudding is the best thing in the world.

Today I’m sharing next month’s prompts. A nice variety of topics, I think. I’d love to know how you’re enjoying this little project. Does the writing come easy? Does remembering? Let me know in the comments!

February’s prompts:
2/2 How did you celebrate your birthday? Do you have a favorite celebration? Worst? From the cake to the presents to the guests, invite us in to the party.
2/9 Do you remember your first romantic thoughts? How old were you? Who was your first crush? It’s the month of love so fill us on how you created a concept, an idea of love and relationships.
2/16 What kind of car did your family drive? What played on the radio? Where did you sit? Take us on a road trip.
2/23 Walk us through your bedtime routine as a kid, a teen, a college kid. Anything you still do now? Did anything keep you up at night?



What Was Your Childhood Room Like?

Every Saturday in 2013 I’ll be sharing a post for the Mom Before Mom project. The goal is to tell the stories of life before motherhood, the stories which root the woman in every mother. So much of memory keeping is focused on capturing our children’s experience but what of our own? Who will capture the mother’s journey as a woman? Who will honor our journey if we don’t honor it first? Every week I’ll be answering a question, journaling my life stories. Read along or write along with the wonderful bloggers linking up every week.

mother's journey as a womanOriginal image by aussiegal via Flikr.

Prompt #2: What did your childhood bedroom look like? Give a tour. How did it change as you matured?

The first room I had was at our home at 321 57th street. I don’t geuinely remember it but I recall it easily from photographs. Shiny orange and white lacquer furniture comes quickly to mind. Small, cozy, full of toys. The room I remember most easily, though, is the one at 6113 Adams Street. It’s the one where imagination and childhood ruled. The one my memory goes to when I think of home.

My mom and I lived on the top floor of a three family house; my grandfather on the first floor. It was all brick with two balconies the length of the front of the house. Three bedrooms and I got the master suite, a massive room with it’s own full bathroom, bidet and all. My queen sized bed was surrounded by walls full of stuffed animals and on my nightstand I had a bright red phone in the shape of a stilletto.

The bathroom sink was just outside the door of the bathroom with a huge mirror the span of the wall. I remember in 6th or 7th grade, standing in front of that mirror toying with the idea of summoning Bloody Mary. I lost my courage and ran to bed instead. I can’t remember the color of the walls or if I had pictures or art on the walls but I have a rolodex full of moments like this, playing and exploring and letting my imagination reign supreme.

There was the time I stood on my bed with an old broomstick using it to row my ship towards a secret treasure. I hung a necklace on the edge of  a dresser and as I got closer to the “x” on the map, I used the broomstick to snatch it up and row back to safety.

Then there were the nights, after going to see the horror movie Child’s Play not realizing it was a scary movie, when the My Buddy doll in the corner of my room scared me to pieces. I remember covering my head many a night with my blankets.

After we left the house on Adams Street, I had three other rooms before heading off to college. The one in my grandfather’s apartment which was really his bedroom where I slept when I stayed over. Then the one during my early teens which I don’t remember so well. Though I vaguely recall a Legends of The Fall poster with a chest baring Brad Pitt on the walls. The one worth mentioning is the one in Bloomfield. A two level condo with all the bedrooms nestled upstairs.

I had a tiny little room with a captain’s bed. Two large drawers for extra sheets and nothing important to me. A computer table with an old school desk top and to the left a few shelves with a special locked area where I kept my secret trinkets and diaries. The room itself isn’t so much something I loved immensely but it was my space during those teenage years of growth, heartbreak and discovery. Hushed and giggly conversations with best friends and boys, late nights reading books that would change my life, tears over struggles with my parents, laugh out loud visits with friends – all of that and so much more within the walls of that little room give it a cherished place in my heart.

I’ve loved every place I’ve lived. I’m a homebody and melt into my home. It’s my place to recharge, my refuge. I’m grateful for somehow learning to find so much comfort at home. The places themselves were unremarkabel but were made home by the people and experiences had there – the the people who lived there, the loved ones they invited in and the memories created together.

Next week’s prompt: 1/26 What was your favorite home cooked meal as a kid? Did you help make it? How did it make you feel? Share the scents and sights and flavors.


How did you get your name?

Every Saturday in 2013 I’ll be sharing a post for the Mom Before Mom project. The goal is to tell the stories of life before motherhood, the stories which root the woman in every mother. So much of memory keeping is focused on capturing our children’s experience but what of our own? Who will capture the mother’s journey as a woman? Who will honor our journey if we don’t honor it first? Every week I’ll be answering a question, journaling my life stories. Read along or write along with the wonderful bloggers linking up every week.

mother's journey as a womanOriginal image by aussiegal via Flikr.

Prompt #1: How did you get your name? Did you always love it? Have you ever wanted to change it?

As a kid, I always had great hopes of finding my name on those useless personalized tourist souvenirs. Nine times out of ten, I’d leave the souvenir shop empty handed. My parents missed two important memos – 1. Souvenir companies only spell Carla with a “K” and 2. They print thousands more of everything with the names Jessica, Jennifer and Brittany (in the ’80s). This pretty much sums up how I felt about my name growing up.

Carla, with it’s five ho-hum letters, never wowed me the way other names did. I didn’t need a “wow” kind of name. I just wanted something a bit more common or a bit more different or a bit something less under the radar. Don’t get me wrong. I didn’t dislike it; I just wasn’t impressed by it. I fancied long names embodying a bit of the fluffy haired 80s feminine mystique I was fascinated by – Veronica and Jacqueline and Victoria, Josephine, Gwendolyn, Samantha. Names that captured my romanticized vision of my future self (think Charlie’s Angels meets Knight Rider meets Pretty Woman meets The Breakfast Club).

I see now I was hoping a certain kind of name would lend it’s characteristics to me. Josephine would save me from my clumsy, awkward self and grant me powers of grace and elegance. Veronica would replace my contemplative self with an opinionated, self-assured, quick to answer version. Gwendolyn would make me a magical fairy creature and Samantha would make me a character on Who’s The Boss but you see where I’m going with this.

At the heart of this lackluster relationship with my name is the fact that I didn’t grow up with a story about my name. I’m a storyteller so it’s how I connect to things. It’s how I work things out and make sense of the world. I’m also a romantic which set the stage for very high expectations for the origins of my name. It’s almost like I assumed the more syllables in a name the more interesting the back story would be. There’s some convoluted, childish logic which convinced me my two syllable, five letter name couldn’t possibly have a good story.

And I wasn’t so far off the mark. My father, who I hadn’t seen since I was eight years old, paid me a surprise visit my sophomore year in college. I was so emotionally stunned I didn’t know what else to do but throw questions at him. One of those happened to be a question about my name. This is what I learned. My mother and him considered Natalie and Natalia. They chose Carla. He couldn’t remember why. I was raised to be polite so I refrained from saying, “Really? You can’t f*ing remember? WTF!” The emotional weight of his visit kicked my name issues to the curb and I just sort of put the information in my mental Filofax for another day.

I went through a phase where I really wanted a great nickname but none ever stuck*. I went through a phase where I wanted to tell people my name was Sam because of Samantha Micelli (Cut a girl some slack, ok? Dark skinned Latina role models weren’t so popular back then so I cuddled up with the next best thing – brunettes). I even spent a whopping five minutes thinking about changing my name. When I couldn’t come up with one I thought suited me perfectly, I gave up because I knew it was a search that could go on forever.

So no, I haven’t always loved my name. I’ve grown to appreciate how perfectly it captures me. Do I think it’s the most perfect name? The most beautiful and inspiring? No. It might be those things for other people but for me it’s a good ole friend I’ve grown in love with over the years. She knows me well and has stood by when I’ve lost sight of myself. And she doesn’t lend herself to me as I once thought Josephine and Veronica would to make me all those things I aspired to be. It’s my life which lends itself to the name, giving it meaning.

*Because if I’m going to talk about my name I should also mention nicknames. I had to two which lasted for any considerable amount of time First in grammar school, the kids called me Jesse after Uncle Jesse on Full House. My hair was cut short like a boy’s and was fluffy and looked very, very much like a John Stamos ‘do. The other was an affectionate term family friends called me from time to time and was later revived in high school with no regularity – chinita. Don’t quote my translation but the term was used with love to describe my almond shaped eyes. My grandfather is El Chino and I was for a short time La chinita. Both make me smile today.

Next week’s prompt: 1/19 What did your childhood bedroom look like? Give a tour. How did it change as you matured?

Mom Before Mom

A weekly blog exercise journaling the mother's journey as a woman. If we don't honor our journey, who will? Original image by aussiegal via Flikr.

One of the kindest things we can do for another human being is to be present. To be fully in the moment, listening to them, seeing them. It’s our greatest honor to be able to bear witness to one another’s existence. Saying in words, in glances, in heartfelt gestures, “You matter. You mean something.”  We must do this for no reward, not out of demand or requirement or with expectation, but as a gift to one another. And not just in the grand moments of life involving celebration or tragedy or monumental transition. Bearing witness takes placesin standing by during the boring moments of everyday life because even in those there are memories, there are stories.

As a mother, I feel a tremendous responsibility to see my daughters with eyes and heart wide open. To be sure they know their lives will never go unnoticed because I will notice. It’s a holy task for a mere mortal. It’s a constant exercise in silencing the noise which distracts us so frequently from truly seeing i n t o one another. I am blessed to be able to stand by them on their life’s journey from the very beginning. To witness them blossoming into themselves, developing opinions, testing boundaries, discovering their emotions, power and voice…to be there every step of the way as they navigate this very grown-up world.

I am also keenly aware they have spent their entire lives by my side, observing, witnessing my journey as a mother. As a mother. It’s all they’ve ever known. Me as mom. There is knowledge there of a life before them but it’s just a foggy prologue to today. In their tender hearts, they have yet to fully realize how long life’s journey is and how every moment, every choice, every experience lends itself to a future self.

I will be bestowed with a passenger’s memory of their journey, of how they came to be. I will have stood by as they have written the stories of their lives. I, on the other hand, must make a conscious decision to share my own journey, my stories with them so they may understand how I’ve come to be and how I continue to grow into myself. 

This is my project for 2013 – to tell the stories of life before motherhood, the stories which have made me who I am and the stories I continue to live right before them but which elude them. So much of memory keeping is focused on capturing our children’s experience but what of our own? Who will capture the mother’s journey as a woman? Who will honor our journey if we don’t honor it first? Every Saturday in 2013, and perhaps beyond, I’ll be answering a question, journaling my life stories. The topics will cover everything from nicknames to first pets to first travels to favorite books to most memorable moments with my own parents – it’s been a long and full life so far so there’s plenty of ground to cover.

My hope is to make this a community effort. To gather a group of women, writers, storytellers who are eager to write from the heart and share themselves. So I invite you to join me. My vision is to write for a year then publish all of my Saturday posts into a book to share with my daughters. I see this as a project in honoring myself and also in nurturing the writer in me, to do the kind of writing which most naturally flows from me.

Every month I’ll be sharing 4 – 5 questions so you can go ahead and write them at your own pace. Each Saturday I’ll post my story in the early morning with a link up option at the end of the post. If I get creative and figure out how, I’d like to create a pretty download for each month to inspire us all. Here are the questions for January:

1/12 How did you get your name? Did you always love it? Have you ever wanted to change it?
1/19 What did your childhood bedroom look like? Give a tour. How did it change as you matured?
1/26 What was your favorite home cooked meal as a child? Did you help make it? How did it make you feel? Share the scents and sights and flavors.

Take complete creative liberty with these. This is about remembering and breathing life into our memories. See you next Saturday!

 

 

 

While I’m giddy with excitement over this labor of love, I’m at a stand still for what to name it, though. The title of this post, “Mom Before Mom” seems accurate but I’m not sure if it gets to the heart of it all. I’d love your suggestions for a name for my little project. Leave your ideas in the comments. Tune in next Saturday to see what I name her!