Yesterday afternoon I remembered that I had four bananas that were singing Swing Low Sweet Chariot. I have been trying to get my family to think about the various ways in which we waste food, and I decided to turn those bananas into a huge banana bread. As I stood in my kitchen mixing butter (God/Goddess’s true gift to us all) with flour, baking soda, and eggs, I couldn’t help but think that this is my place. My childhood is filled with memories of my mother in her kitchen cooking, and I hope that my children will one day associate me with the meals that I prepare. You see, every single meal that I make for them is filled with my love.
Ten minutes before Destruction came home from school I took the banana bread out of the oven. He walked in smiled and said, “mommy it smells beautiful in here.” I cannot tell you the joy that this simple statement brought me. After supper as I watched my men divide the banana bread with relish amid comments of, “oh this is so good”, I felt their pride in me. I felt their love and appreciation of me. I made this banana bread with my swollen hands, standing on swollen feet, because I wanted to make them happy.
If you have not guessed it by now, my family is my world. I love to see them smile and play. I love to spend time with them. I love to cuddle with them under blankets on rainy days, and I love the water wars we get into on steamy hot summer days. My family is a place of safety, acceptance and above all respect. I love that we are a team and that we can rely on each other. We each have specific roles that we play that are suited to our personal likes, dislikes, and abilities -- and somehow, amid all of the zany idiosyncrasies we make it work.
So far this post may not seem very political to you, but in fact it is being written with a very specific political perspective in mind. Gone are the days when women could openly say that they take pride in cooking and cleaning for their family without being ridiculed. Gone are the days when a mother’s happiness of watching her family consume her labour of love means anything significant. This is domestic labour and though it has never meant much in the realm of economics, at least it had its place in the social world.
I am a mother. I am not the type of mother that makes crafts (oh alright makes crafts often), or is on the PTA, but I do the nurturing work for my family and I am proud every single day of the results that it yields. I give magic kisses to heal ouchies, and my hand is always ready to wipe away a tear. I always have a smile ready and I am excited to cheer what may seem like the smallest victories, or offer words of love in support.
But none of this is acceptable because we have glass ceilings to breakthrough. We need to be concerned about buying RRSPS ( or 401k’s for you Americans). We need to prove that we are the equal of every man and turn our energy outward rather than inward to fight the years of oppression that women have suffered at the hands of patriarchy. We need to study hard, play hard, and live hard. We need…we need… we need…. But somewhere in there we forgot that for some women, women like me, all that matters at the end of the day is the shared joy over a simple banana bread, because this is what makes me happy; this is what makes me feel whole.
The kitchen is my kingdom and when I am well I rule it with an iron fist. Providing food has been women’s work for centuries, but that does not mean that there is not power and dignity in it. It is a beautiful thing to make someone smile. It is a beautiful thing to make someone truly happy. And if this joy costs me just a little bit of time, (and a small measure of pain due to my illness), it is my right to celebrate this as my own victory. I have made a lot of mistakes in my life. There are chapters, doorways, alleyways that I never want to revisit, but my decision to spend my life dedicated to loving my men is something I don’t regret and have no desire to hide. Mothering is not something that women should ever be ashamed of, because for some of us, it brings out the best of who we are.
Dedicated with all my love to my men, big and small.