You know, if my mother had just cooked breakfast once, rather than SAYING she’d cook breakfast everyday, there would be a lot less stress at our house.
Breakfast is just a symptom, of course. A symbol of the way my family negotiates and communicates life. Wait. Don’t get excited about some charming thought piece about how food is the thread that knots my family together. I know you’ve read those. They are magical and usually involve mothers and daughters and something hot and cheesy.
During a family visit, the planning, cooking, and consuming of meals are landmines. Lest you think there’s time to plan where to step next, know that conversation about meals starts the moment you wake up and continues until the moment you go to sleep. Who will be cooking? Who is picky about dairy? Who wishes they hadn’t eaten that? Who is “Not eating that right now”? Who is eager to cook? Who is too lazy? Who says they will and then doesn’t (more people than you think)?
But I’m old, you all. I’ve found a solution! I plan the meals ahead of time! I write them down! I do the grocery shopping! I cook! I can’t anticipate changing plans or the aftermath but it helps get us past the series of passive-agressive actions that takes this centerpiece of life and turns it into something consumed as fast as possible, nearly in silence. You’d think for all the talk about food, we’d enjoy eating it more.
And so it goes when my parents visit. Which brings us back to breakfast.
My mother requires a degree of precision and attention found only in the most skilled bomb diffusers. I had forgotten that one of the keys to success in my life (and I promise you that my sisters do not have to negotiate these same pitfalls, lucky bastards) was to expect that nothing will occur as stated. Read the small print. Plans are required but antagonistic. Have no expectations. My priorities are…not. Being married to my sane wife has lulled me into a feeling of safety. As such, I’m not sure why I got up ten minutes later expecting that I wouldn’t have to worry about breakfast. I’ve obviously forgotten my origins.
Things generally work out for me. But I also spend a lot of time preparing for every eventuality I can think of. Talk about a rabbit’s hole. I’m better about it than I was growing up, but having my mom around illustrates clearly why I do it to begin with. Far better to make my own breakfast and avoid being disappointed. Far better.
As a side note, D and I are suffering a bit by choosing not to discuss having a second child with them or with each other while they visit. Much like the circle of grief you all probably saw floating around last week (i.e. you vent out and console in from the person who is experiencing the event), announcing a happy event should be met only with “That’s wonderful news!” and any other personal feelings should be delayed or communicated to people further removed. That’s a simplistic interpretation but it’ll do. Maybe I’ll post it on the fridge.