I had found myself obligated to be a "soccer Mom" for a portion of the Labor Day holiday weekend. My wife works at our business and this particular Saturday she was scheduled there, so I was to fulfill the transportation caravan to get my daughter and a friend of hers, as well as my son to the tournament about an hour and a half away. The day and drive were pleasant, and outside of a few grumbles of the address not appearing on my GPS, we arrived unscathed and emotionally intact. I will admit that I never have watched soccer prior to my daughter playing, probably won't after she resigns at some point in her life, but I love to celebrate her growth into adolescence and am grateful she has the ability to make it to be able to secure a spot on the team, as some are not as fortunate. Upon sitting on the field, a text from my wife alerted me to the fact that she was finished with work early as our business was slow due to the local college football team celebrating its' opening game. Our entire city pretty much celebrates every game with more fervor than Christmas; every Saturday is a national holiday in the fall.
I admit I was a bit jealous, as she noted that she was in a local pub with a friend awaiting the final close of our business, and mentioned that she was going to the game, tailgating, and then partying afterward and that her friend, as well as another would be spending the night. Then she had asked if I would make them all breakfast/brunch in the morning. I admit I was jealous and a bit taken back as I realy had not logged, (nor was I entirely informed) that I would not see her for twelve or more hours and that I would then be in charge of childcare after the game. Childishly, I pouted that I would not be able to do anything "fun" that day, as I really did not miss the festivities involving intoxicants as I no longer participate, but I hoped maybe for a brief reprieve to go grocery shopping, and perhaps to get some new clothes which I honestly have not done in over a year. It is a holiday weekend as well as the end of summer, so I thought it may be fun and therapeutic. I held my tongue and returned my attention to the soccer field which reminded me I was an hour away, was "on-call" for many more hours, and had a drive home to make. In my mind the whole world was at home "having a ball" and I was not invited. This resentment led me away from the ability to have gratitude for my beautiful daughter playing in her passion al on a beautiful sunny day.
The game ended to a loss for our team, and we consoled ourselves over fast food an silly chatter. We eventually drove home, with silence from the backseat, the girls passed out, as did my son. It really was a nice drive, and I found in case, an old CD that I made some ten years ago with some of my favorite songs of the time, making the drive a "mental music video" of memories from the time. It was peaceful, as the wind allowed my left arm to "air surf" the wind that propelled by my window. Upon returning home, I was reminded again of being "on call", and that also my daughers' friend's parents would be even later so I was actually "on duty" for the duration of the evening (I absolutely love my daughters' friend as part of our family and she is welcome anytime), causing me to pout moreso. I got home in time to catch our team win the game in the last 1:42 seconds which allowed me to continue the "poutfest" as I caught this information online and not in front of a big screen somewhere.
I got another call from my wife asking me if I had received her messages about whether or not I was going to cook for her guests, and I was thinking, "I just found a hiding place from the onslaught of 'I'm boreds' from the kids", and she had asked me agan, if I was going to cook for her and her friends in the morning. I was terse and short and answered with a "maybe", as I was feeling sorry for myself being home with the kids on a holiday weekend missing the first game of the year and being nudged into whether I was going to make "hangover helper" for my wife as she called me from a pub somewhere. Honestly, I knew I would, I just wanted to be bitter. I love my kids, I love my kids friends, I love my wife's friends, as well as my wife, I found that my ego was "renting space" in my head, placing selfish thoughts on me, and did not allow me to realize, that what I was doing, I don't mind, I couldn't care less if my wife goes out with her friends; I, as many of us do, just end up in a selfish ego-laden place from time to time. The evening passed without incident, she and her friends arrived home safe by cab, and my son and I enjoyed a calm evening together as my daughter and friend stayed at her friend's house.
I awoke that morning excited to cook the meal requested of me and with my wife having a new friend stay with us, whom I had never met, I had an opportunity to share my culinary prowess with her and the others, and upon being thanked for the meal I later presented, I noted that I would rather spend a couple hours making what I do, more than a bowl of cereal. I made sliced fingerling potatoes with shallots and red onions, dusted with cumin and sauteed in olive oil to accompany the egg Strata with a bed of lightly toasted potato bread on the bottom of a dish with a topping on one half of asparagus and baby portobella mushrooms with some shallots, and the other half with maple sausage and smoked mozerella for the carnivores. The appetizer was a martini glass with fresh blueberries on the bottom, layered with vanilla yogurt, then raspberries, more yogurt, and repeat until full. Top that with a garnish of the fruit and some crumbled granola and they were set.
This meal was not planned as it never is, but I will often arise to go to the store, select some soothing "Zen" music, and then arrive and wait for the menu to "appear" to me from an inspiration. Without ego I can say I rarely disappoint on the selction, as I stated, I get the menu from a "place" in myself I find rather Divine. I get a grateful feeling for my abilites I have acquired in the kitchen, and love to share. Bless you Food Network! The more inticate, the more pleasing for me, as long as someone is around to share it upon completion no matter the level of their palate's cultivation. I also know my wife likes to "share me" upon those mornings we host guests, as she can recline and I can serve a meal to her friends making it worth the stay.
Any resentments I had upon being asked to do what I love most were erased upon me arising that morning as there is nothing I would rather do than to cook for someone. From the gathering of ingredients, to the tedious preparation, presentation, and cleanup, I enjoy it all. The reason I found, is to me, I find this all a tremendous gesture of love when I cook for others. The gift of being able to nourish, entertain, and allow fellowship to occur over a meal that sustains us is a place I love to find myself in. When I am in a place to where I am performing a gesture of love, I find it extremelydifficult to find myself angry, or in a state of ego-blistered mental activity. It becomes a zen-like state, or trance even, as I love people being fed, filled, and in a relaxed state all at the edge of my table. I found until having to conjur the words to write here, I had all but forgotten of yesterdays' adolescent behavior. I had nothing but joy in the couple hours I had to gather, prepare, and present my meal as I was totaly in a state I wish I could find myself in more often. I noticed from the lady at the coffee counter, checkout line, to the new friend I met, everyone had their "light on" today, or maybe it was the reflection of mine bouncing off of them. Either way the morning was illuminated!
I find now that if I ever find myself in an ill-state, I can perform a "gesture of love" to get the "wrinkles" out of my day. It kind of smoothes things over and also gets me out of myself and into what is important and that is the right interaction I share with others. I have many things I do as a gesture of love, but now I am aware of something that can shake the "proverbial Etch-a-sketch" and clean the slate. I emplore upon you to seek a gesture of love you may have, something that connects you to the you, you know you should be; one that is a gift to those around you. Whether it be cooking, writing, painting, singing, playing, cleaning, helping those less fortunate, counseling, you name it, but we all have that in us which cleanses us through the gifts we bestow upon others. Find it and use it!
I see now that I will have these infiltrating moments of selfishness. I will get in a "place" that I do not wish to be. I do now also see yet another window I can escape out of. So from here on out, if I am found to be a brat; don't send me to my room, send me to the kitchen!