Yesterday afternoon my oldest son came home right after school for the last time. Sports are over and today he goes to work. Next week Senior exams and the following week he graduates from high school. It’s been an exhilarating 12-year run of elementary school, middle school, high school. He’s excited about his college plans and so am I.
Yesterday was my last, “Hello, are you hungry?” with his backpack slung over his shoulder and his car keys twirling on a UC lanyard at the end of his finger. Yesterday was our last chat about his school day while he lives under this roof. Yesterday was the last time he “fills me in” on something on his mind from a long day at school. I knew this day was coming.
In preparation I made one of his favorite snacks: guacamole. I also bought Oreos and brewed iced tea and made simple syrup for his sweet tea. He gave me a hug, ate some chips and guacamole, and then left to meet his friends to watch a soccer game at a local Irish pub. I smiled when he left. He’s happy and optimistic. I am too, but honestly the happiness comes in waves, between watery peeks through my eyeglasses.
He’s been with me through numerous cookbook projects. He tasted and commented on just about everything I’ve ever cooked and baked for our family over the past 18 years, as well as on every recipe I’ve developed, tested, or prepared for cookbook projects. By choice, my work blurs the lines between him as family and as recipe taste tester. Between my office and our kitchen. Between being his mom and meeting work deadlines. Between writing my own books and articles and reading and commenting on his written work.
I knew in 2003 when he marched off into his 1st grade classroom with his lunchbox in hand, packed with an olive-nut cream cheese sandwich and apple slices, that this day would come. I also knew deep down in my gut that he and his sister and brother were the reason why I had to blend my family and my work – my test kitchen with their home kitchen.
As a result he’s grown up exposed to some tasty food experiences, wonderful cookbook authors, and fun book tour events for various cookbook projects including my own. Little did he know as he grew taller, stronger, and wiser that I would grow up too. Older yes, but most importantly appreciative of the times when his world revolved around our family and home with my test kitchen in the middle.
This fall, the after-school hours will be different. I won’t have to cut three avocados when I make guacamole. Only two. We won’t buzz through a pack of Oreos so quickly, and the simple syrup will last a bit longer. I’m not sad as much as I am stunned. It’s truly been something to watch a curious, talkative, boy turn into a smart, articulate, well-dressed young man. Sure, I’ll miss him, but I also look forward to the next stage on our journey where I get to watch him grow into the independent person he’s intended to be.
One thing I know for sure, my work will go on and our kitchen will continue to hum. It will always be open for him to enjoy meals, snacks, and cold beverages when he can. I’ll update him on my latest projects and I’ll listen as he “fills me in”. It will be different, but different isn’t necessarily bad. It’s just different. And different can lead us to memorable times as well if we keep our minds open to the possibilities that all of life’s experiences lay at our feet.
Cookbook editor, author, and culinary dietitian Maggie Green write cookbooks and coaches first-time cookbook authors on writing cookbook proposals and building their author platform.