My mom is sick today. So, I stayed home from work to take care of her. Its strange, having my mom sick, and being so worried about it. After all, moms are supposed to take care of us kids, right? I was out last night, and when I got home, my mom was here. She had called my husband to go pick her up, as she was feeling dizzy and did not want to be alone. I was up all night with my mom here. What if she got up in the middle of the night to use the bathroom and fell? What if she needed me?
Its funny how things come full circle, isn’t it? We spend the early part of our lives being taken care OF. We are fed, clothed, and nurtured by our parents. Then, we grow up, and don’t really give them a second thought for a large part of our lives. We go to college, or start businesses and careers. We get married, and have kids, or stay single and tend to our busy lives. We begin the process of feeding, clothing and nurturing our own offspring. Our parents become grandparents…and life just goes along merrily. They give advice, and we think they know nothing and we know everything, until that first fever or illness. Then, we are on the phone immediately with “Mom, what do I do with the baby? She has a fever! Can you help?”. We don’t think of them as getting older, and certainly not as getting OLD. But, suddenly…they are.
My Dad passed almost five years ago. He was not doing well, and I think in a way, it was time for him to go. I say this not callously, but God has a plan for everyone, and Dad was just so angry that his body could not do what he wanted it to anymore. It was hard on him and Mom, and I miss him terribly. I keep lots of pictures of him, but they are all pictures of him in his hey-day, when he was young and so full of life. But mom is aging in a different way. She is vibrant, smart, “hip”, and full of energy. She can out-do me on any given day. And yet, she is 85. She has aged, and I suppose I have to face the fact that she is, well…old. A slight illness can be the catalyst that will set in motion the beginning of the end now. I have to be careful with her. She took care of me (and still does in many ways), and now its my turn. I am glad to be close enough to her to do it, and know that my siblings would do the same if they were close enough.
So, what did I do today with my day home with mom? I nursed her…I made sure she got some good rest…and I made chicken soup. It is natural for me to cook when someone is not well. I think that many women, and some men are this way too. In fact, I wonder who ends up feeling better from this process – the ill person, or the chicken-soup-making-care-taking-person? I could not do anything else…but cook! Which brings me to my rant, or stream of consciousness. Was I put here on this earth to get an education, and have a career? Or was I born to nurture, cook, and be the master of house and home life? Geez, I really NEEDED to be home today – to care for my mom, to make soup, and have a nice dinner on the table for my family tonight. I feel in my element, and that this is where I am meant to be, and this is what I am meant to be doing. Would I feel like a fish out of water if I were doing this every day? After having had it both ways in my lifetime (being a stay at home mom versus a “working” mom), I would say no. I believe that staying home is harder in many ways than working in the office. But…the rewards are greater. The pay stinks, but the benefits are great. So what is my purpose?
Sometimes I wish I had grown up in a different era, when roles were more defined. When “girls were girls and men were men” as Archie Bunker used to sing. I wish someone had said to me “you will grow up, get married, have kids and be a momma”, rather than “you will grow up, get an education, get a higher education, have a high powered career, get married, have kids, work, volunteer, and try to be Superwoman and fit it all into every 24 hour day of your life, for the rest of your life”. Ok, maybe that’s a bit dramatic, and too black and white, but this “all or nothing” scenario is just getting old. And roles are so blurred, while at the same time still being so separate that its mind-boggling.
So, for today, I am a care-taker. I am a momma. I love my momma, so its my job to take care of her…and make her soup. And you know what? I like it that way just fine, thank you very much. I will take this role any day.
Take care of your aging parents, for they have given us so much. Share them with your children…and make them soup:-) If you want to know what’s in mine, keep reading.
1 good, heavy stock pot (I prefer cast iron!)
2 whole chicken breasts (bone in and skin on)
1 container vegetable or chicken stock, plus half that amount in water
2 tablespoons butter (use the real thing, please!)
1 Sweet Potato
2 large shallots
2 cups of baby carrots, divided
2 stalks of celery
Salt, Pepper and Bay leaves
fresh or dried parsley
Melt the butter in the bottom of your pot. Generously salt and pepper your chicken breasts and then sear them in the pot. Peel the sweet potato, and cut into big chunks. Throw in the pot, along with the shallots, cut into quarters. Let the veggis cook in the butter with the chicken. Once that chicken has browned on one side, turn it over and let the other side brown. Then, cover the chicken with the stock and water, and throw in about half the carrots, celery and about 2 large Bay Leaves. Add some more salt and pepper, and put that cover on, flame on LOW! Cook that for several hours…low and slow. Then, strain your soup into a large colander, but MAKE SURE YOU PUT A POT UNDER IT! Oh, how many gallons of good soup have gone down my drain, because I forgot to put a darn put under the colander!! Then, put your soup back on the stove, shred all that good white chicken meat into it. Cut up the reserved carrots, and throw them in. Add the parsley. If you want, you can take the cooked sweet potatoes and carrots, and blend them with a little of the stock, and put that back in for a rich soup. You may also cook rice or pasta in a separate pot, and add that to your soup. Or, just serve it with a nice, crusty bread. Then…experience the love of a good, homemade soup, and share it with someone who needs it.