Mother’s excessive cooking exposes hunger of a different kind

Mother's excessive cooking exposes hunger of a different kind MyStoryYourStory By: Paula Damon This is not a food column on how to follow four recipes from scratch in less than three hours and live to tell about it. This is not an advice column on how to satisfy hunger pangs. This is an opinion column on how parents do or do not recover from empty nest syndrome. You know, that disease parents â�?�? mainly mothers â�?�? experience after all the children are grown and gone. The long hard truth of the matter is we never really get over it. Oh, the sudden shock of vacancies that kids leave behind may ease a bit, but we never stop missing them. Instead, our emotional need to nurture transfers to all kinds of things, including dishing up food in excess. Take, for example, when our son and daughter-in-law spent a couple days with us recently, I went nuts in the kitchen. I made peanut butter granola. I whipped up my family famous breakfast bars with sunflower seeds, old-fashioned oats, peanut butter, rice krispie cereal, marshmallows and butter. That was not the end of it. I made a two-pound loaf of oregano parmesan bread. To top it off, I baked a peach pie with fresh peaches, no less. Did I mention that we are not big eaters? There was a feverish, soulful energy about my marathon. I used every mixing bowl in the cupboard. I measured flour, honey, peanut butter and oats in my old orange Tupperware measuring cups that I purchased when our daughter, now 34, was turning two. In the process, I filled both sinks with dirty pots, pans and utensils. My non-stop food preparation reminded me of my grandmother on my fatherâ�?�?s side. Her name was Maria. When we visited her or when she visited us, it was always the same. She would prepare food all morning and into the afternoon. Her point of reference was a mere few feet between the stove and the sink, while cooking pasta sauce, baking Italian meat pies and frying chicken. Back and forth, back and forth she moved as though rocking her babies. Back and forth, back and forth, back and forth she would rock. When I checked the peach pie in the oven and saw peach syrup oozing from its golden crust, I wondered if this was my attempt to reconcile my sense of loss. Now six years since our youngest left home, could I still be suffering from empty nest syndrome? My back ached from standing so long. My head hurt from concentrating on all those ingredients. My throat felt tight from feeding a hunger no recipe could satisfy. Really, itâ�?�?s nothing to cry about. Itâ�?�?s just that when my children return home, I spend hours in the kitchen. My point of reference is a mere few feet between the stove and the sink. I rock back and forth, back and forth, back and forth. A resident of Southeast South Dakota for more than 30 years, Paula Damon is a popular columnist, keynote speaker and freelance writer. Her columns have won first-place in Iowa Press Women and National Federation of Press Women competitions. Damonâ�?�?s columns took second place statewide in the South Dakota Press Women 2007 and 2008 Communications Contests. For more information, e-mail paulada 2008�?© Paula Damon

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