"The thing about Moms and Food"
By Deborah Dunham
While I was at the grocery store today picking up a few odds and ends, I
passed an end cap display of stuffing mix. It was the brand I usually use
and it made me nostalgic for the Thanksgiving dinner I would not be
making this year for my family. For a moment, I seriously considered my
son’s plea, from a previous year, to “make stuffing at least” and ship it to
him. Of course I don’t have time for that but…
I began to think of my mother. I never could understand why, after I’d
moved away from home and would visit, my mom seemed intent on
stuffing me with food. I’d come over and visit my mom all fresh and dewy
from my “new” eating regimen. Perhaps I was eating vegan or was in a
full blown vegetarian high. Regardless of how tactfully I’d tell my mother
how “we” (my boyfriend or husband and kids) ate BEFOREHAND she
STILL always had prepared tons of sausages and biscuits (if it was
breakfast) or REALLY went for the big PORK CHOPS and gravy if it was
Once confronted with the food I’d politely mention that this was
“different” from our home foods and try to skirt the issue, pick around the
"offending" foods and eat the vegetables only but ultimately could not do
anything less than eat the food that she placed in front of us after looking
at her sad face. I’d get home and rant (out of earshot of the kids) about
how she was trying to destroy me.
My mom had grown up in the south and brought her cooking and eating
habits to Brooklyn where I was raised. Of course I loved my mother’s
cooking growing up. Every child does. But over the years, on my own, I
had grown away from the heavy, if delicious, foods. I’d begun to re-
educate myself and this education created a growing distance between
my mother’s food realities and mine.
Until today, I would have said that “all that” was totally unimportant.
Until today. I realized, today, that once a mother has raised her child
and her job is done she still wants to contribute “something”, “anything”
to that child. Realities change and she knows that but there were things
about which they both agreed at one time and generally that at least can
After 55 years, I finally understood. My mother cooks the foods I so
loved, as a child, as a way of sharing pleasure moments. She doesn’t
have any other link to share with me. Time being what it is and
separation adding change as well she feels that she can bring
us back to where we shared a reality about food.
I understand all too well now. I know for CERTAIN that my children
come home for Thanksgiving for the family closeness and their favorite
foods which though we all may eat differently during the rest of the year,
we eschew “all that” for the one night to be “together” again.
by Deborah Dunham
Page created 11/8/08