Cooking is a radical act

I read a pretty diverse assortment of blogs on a fairly regular basis. I have my political blogs, black blogs, cooking blogs, you get the picture. Anyway recently I was reading one of my regular blogs and the blogger made an indirect slam towards women who cook and do crafty work, the implication being that women who devote their blog energies to such endeavors really don’t have a voice as far as more serious discussions.  For some reason that comment stuck with me, to the point that yesterday as I was cooking a batch of chicken soup for the girl child, that it hit me…cooking and doing crafty work is not only radical in today’s world its downright empowering.

I admit this is going to be disjointed since its late but stay with me. Two images of my mother who has been deceased now 5 years both are around cooking. When my mother was starting chemotherapy, I went home to visit, well the day I was to arrive she was having chemo so the night before she started chemo, she stayed up late to cook one of my favorite meals. See, my Mom showed her love through cooking and here I was coming and despite the emotional roller coaster she was on, it just would not do to not have her daughter’s favorite foods prepared.

A few months later after we learned that despite chemo, radiation and lung surgery, we received the heartbreaking news that the cancer had spread to her brain…it was not a good time, and my folks decided on brain surgery. I went back home and at this point my Mom was not in good shape, yet the night before her surgery..brain surgery, out of nowhere she got a surge of energy and made me my absolute favorite meal, chicken and noodle stew. It was the last meal that my Mom would ever cook for me as she would only live 7 more weeks and would never return home.

It was funny because the night she made the stew, I watched her (she had never shared the recipe before and in her condition she wasn’t writing the recipe down) yet she cooked it as perfectly as she always had despite having horrible headaches and a fast growing tumor in her head.

Prior to my Mom’s death, I was a proficient cook but I was not passionate about it, yet through her last days I realized that cooking is about nutrition but its also about love. After my Mom’s death, my cooking has grown to the point that even my family and that includes my picky Dad have all said its as if I started channeling my Mom when I cook. I enjoy cooking, when I prepare meals for my family I see it as showing love. Last week I was rushing two hours before elder boy left to go back to the Midwest to prepare his favorite breakfast, he told me not to worry about it but I know how much he loves fried potatoes and onions, so I cooked them.

I look at the blogs of women who share their handicraft and culinary talents and think that for so many of us who are so busy that we have no idea what the stove actually does, that perhaps we should step back and learn something. Once upon a time family meals were the norm, yet how many families no longer break bread together?

In the Black community, broken families are the norm, in many cases headed by a single Mama, sometimes there are issues with kids running amok, would things be better if families ate together? I know I sound hokey but I do believe there is something special about family time. In my house even when its pizza night we sit and eat it together at the table where the table has been set. My son jokes I am one of the only folks he knows who does this; for us setting the table and sitting together is a norm. The type of norm that if we saw more of it maybe there would be less violence in our communities.

So to all the ladies who cook, knit and sew…you are changing the world, maybe not on a large macro level but on a level that indeed makes a difference. Cooking and taking care of one’s family is a radical act in this time.

Mamahood is the new hustle but where are the sistas?

For the past year or so as I have gotten really into reading blogs, I have noticed this strange phenomenon, average every day women who happen to be mothers who have taken the art of mothering into something blog-worthy yet they also make a few extra bucks via these ventures. Now what I am about to say here is not new since a few months ago a sista did an amazing article for Bitch magazine talking about this exact thing, but this is my spin on it.

Yep, there are all sorts of Mommy bloggers out there as well as Mommy zines, even books about average every day mothering, which is cool since I love seeing what other Mamas are doing to stay sane and keep their wee ones engaged. However I have noticed a small, ok maybe a large problem. Where are the women of color bloggers? Zine? Books? I mean seriously, for every one black woman waxing poetically about the joys of motherhood, knitting, cooking and just living life (like my girl Chi-Chi)there are probably 25 white women doing this. The thing is some of these blogger Mamas is getting paid, but what about the sistas?

Is no one interested in our daily lives?  I admit when I first started blogging I wanted to be a cross between this and this which maybe I am some days but most days, I am just me and I follow no rhyme or rhythym with my blogging, so gone are my dreams of being known as a Mama blogger…instead I am just a sista in Maine which is already pretty strange.

But no, on a serious tip why is it that now that living simply is all the rage we see less representation among people of color, shit in my humble ass opinion many of us perfected the art of living simply, we just didn’t use flowery language to make it sound good. Look, my Mom was a stay at home Mama in the 70’s and 80’s and we were pretty much always broke, shopping at the thrift store and garage sales was a normal part of our lives. Saturday mornings in the summer, my Mama was up early with her trusty shopping cart for us to prowl the neighborhood in search of bargains, back then the shit wasn’t cool and I used to pray none of my friends would see us.

Cooking from scratch? Again, that was the norm in my house. Macaroni and cheese never came out the box, it took hours and was made from scratch with a mix of cheeses. In grammar school one of my favorite things was when I could invite friends over and Mom would make pizza (no Boboli crust for us, all homemade, made by hand) with a side of butter cookies. Good times, man. Yet no one ever gave my Momma a book deal and until recently I never thought much of these things, it was just the way Mama rolled. Shit, my Mom was sewing clothes and re-fashioning her thrifty bargains long before anyone thought it was hip.

No, it hasn’t been until I started reading Mama blogs and seeing how folks elevate this simple living that it hit me that I couldn’t be the only sista who grew up this way and even has a few of these handy talents, yet where is my book deal? If you are a handy sista reading me, where is your book deal?

Look, don’t get me wrong I am not mad that some Mamas are getting their hustle on while raising the kids, times is tough and folks gotta earn a few shekels anyway possible. I just want to know why the powers to be aren’t being more inclusive, really? I would be all over a book written by a woman of color who is a homemaker, and I suspect I am not alone.

I do know from engaging in the Black blogosphere there are sistas who are not only homemakers but even Mamas who are homeschooling like this sista, yet despite the few sistas I read on the regular who are engaging in these things, I still think we are greatly underrepresented.

Anyway maybe I should break out my trusty camera and start snapping photos about our lazy days and convince some publisher that there is a market on Black motherhood. What say you?