Caught up in my online mom’s group where we talk about The Mental Load, bitch about our partners and kids, and also find support in all forms with things big and small going in our lives, I feel like I’m coming into my feminism even more.
Backed by a hundred other women who are mothers has helped a lot, on top of all of my strong, female friends.
But Thanksgiving made me realize what a shitty feminist I am to the ONE person I should have the most empathy for.
Since the death of my grandmother when I was around seventeen, we no longer get together with my mom’s side of the family to celebrate holidays. I was relieved at the time. No more long drive into the city. No more dressing up. No more awkward conversations with relatives who never remembered how old I was. No more finding a space on the couch with a t.v. tray.
Perhaps to some, that sounds like a pretty typical holiday. Don’t get me wrong, my extended family is a pretty nice group of people for the most part. I always had fun with my older cousins. The food was always plentiful and delicious. And most importantly, I was lucky I had a family to celebrate with. But I was young and immature and couldn’t really appreciate it until I didn’t have it anymore.
I went away to college and came home for the holidays. My mom cooked everything, all of our favorites. I started dating my first boyfriend in my mid-twenties. She still cooked the years I came home.
Now she delegates some of the dishes to my brother and I. But she’s still doing most of the heavy lifting, including hosting duties.
Dinner is always finished in about twenty minutes, a meal she slaves away at by herself and starts shopping for weeks in advance.
This year was different because my uncle was there. We haven’t celebrated a major holiday with him in decades. My dad also tried to get us into a game of trivia, but the questions were all from the 1970’s. My kid wanted to hang out in my parents’ bedroom to watch t.v., so I spent a lot of time hanging out with him.
I realized it was getting late and signaled to my partner we needed to get going.
So we left, without lifting a finger with the cleaning. I should mention their dishwasher doesn’t work.
My point is, I am fine with shouting to the world that it’s not MY responsibility as a woman or mother to create magic during the holidays or carry the load to provide a giant meal for ungrateful mouths.
But boy was I fine with putting that all on my own mother.
Sitting on the toilet earlier, I thought to myself “it’s kind of bullshit that we’re always talking about ‘Mom’s’ home cooking’ and not dad’s”. I’m just as guilty as the next person of missing my mom’s take on tuna noodle casserole or spaghetti sauce or how she made tacos with ground beef and chorizo. I don’t mean that there’s something wrong with missing your mother’s cooking. It’s that even to this day I don’t give her any damn props for cooking basically every goddamn meal for my entire childhood. That she took the time and care and thoughtfulness to make things we liked.
I even have the audacity to make fun of how much I hated “big salad night” because until recently I didn’t recognize that my mom needed a fucking break and maybe she didn’t feel like firing up the stove for the one millionth time.
I think next year I will insist on us all chipping in on a complete Thanksgiving meal from Whole Foods.
And I will definitely stay to clean up.
P.S. You should read this breathtaking piece from Lyz Lenz about no longer cooking now that she’s divorced.