It’s almost May but you can call me June . . .

ImageWell, of course this isn’t me.  It’s June Cleaver, mother of Beaver on the Leave it to Beaver show. ( BTW I was in college with Beaver’s dad.  He was a basketball star and quite handsome.)

But I’m afraid I do have some things in common with June Cleaver.  I looked fairly presentable while I ran the home and planned the meals and cooked from scratch and oversaw the table.  We ate well, and we had certain rules, the main one being “you must take some of everything.”  If you don’t like something, I told them, just take less, and if you like something take more.  All foods are good, I believed, but for each of us some are just better than others.

The problem is that after umpteen years as chairman of their food committee it was difficult to resign from that position, even though the little ones are big ones now and their pins on my Google Earth are far apart and far from me.   It became obvious, when they came to visit, that to them all foods were not good.

   Back in my kitchen, these Baby Boomers, now middle-agers, roll their eyes (a skill perfected by their generation)  They make jokes about the “Jello culture” of the Midwest and refer to us as the “food-pushers.” Casseroles are suspect. They decline seconds on any dish, and remind us of their peculiarities . . their vegetarianism, their sugar-free or fat-free diet, or the fact that they simply don’t have time to eat. It is like a dagger to my heart. But still I fuss and stew, if you will forgive the culinary reference, because I am so programmed to feed those I brought in.                                                                                                                      

When they married and brought a new family member home for a visit, that’s when things became complicated. My son-in-law is a meat-and-potatoes kind of guy. He eats little fruit and his vegetable choice is asparagus, but it must be cooked until it’s gray and limp. His wife, my daughter, is a vegetarian and eats no meat, fish or poultry, but does eat most vegetables. She likes them steamed, and just barely. But, good heavens, no asparagus! And that’s only one of the families I had to consider at Thanksgiving or Christmas time.

      Our home, which once held two adults and three children, became in the good years a gathering place for everyone, including the grandchildren and great grandchildren . Among this merry conglomerate are three who will not eat nuts and five who gag at the thought of onions. So we cooked two versions, with and without. Then there is the bachelor who will neither talk nor eat until he has Starbucked himself into consciousness. We put the omelets on hold and wait for him to catch up.

     When the children were small we had certain rules at our table . . things like don’t talk with your mouth full, don’t play with your food and, most important, you must take some of everything. When they left our home they were about as free of prejudice as one can be, so I can see it is the world that is testing them.

     It’s like life. We give our children rules to live by until they are mature enough to set their own. Along the way they experiment, and every now and then they check home base to get their bearings and to make certain comparisons as they learn and grow in their own patterns. 

      Still, there are those times, when no one is looking. A grown son peeks into the empty cookie jar and says “But Mom . . 
. . you knew I was coming!”

      A grandson slips up behind me at the kitchen sink, throws his big arms around me and says “No one makes gravy like you do, Grandma.”

     The daughter calls frantically for recipes for company. But, please, none with Jello.

     Mothers can and do say goodbye to their children. They just never quite shut the door.




4 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. Betty
    Apr 24, 2014 @ 22:45:32

    Makes me smile to read this.


  2. Donna Thomas
    Apr 25, 2014 @ 00:35:55



  3. Barbara Kladstrup
    Apr 25, 2014 @ 09:50:19

    Absolutely wonderful, Doris! I’m looking forward to our Movie Group discussion Sunday night. Thank you for the additional info about the filming and the fact that the casting director was from Pisgah!! That’s just 6 miles down the highway from Moorhead. I used to date a fellow from there, and for years we had a hired girl from Pisgah. I think there’ll be lively discussion. Our minister and his wife will be first time guests to try it out. Wonder what they’ll think of Dern’s wife! Loved your hired man’s comment — You’ve got to let it go, Doris!! Don’t ever let it go is my advice.


  4. Sara Markland
    Apr 28, 2014 @ 06:06:31

    You are definitely right about growing up in the jello belt ( really!? everything from marshmallows to the same mold? ARG) and you forcing us to taste ” only one bite”. Can I just say ” sourkraut”??????? I still gag at the mention of that pseudo- food. And it was and is around the table that we solidified ourselves, our likes and dislikes, our place in the family and in our own little world. I have often said that my generation was the luckiest because we are the ” June Cleaver” generation. Our Moms, for the most part, stayed home and raised us, cared for us, taught us, clothed us ( generally from their own sewing machine), and fed us. And, yes Mom, that picture does look like you did, clear down to the pearls and apron. Thank you for that. Oh! Except the sourkraut indident of ’56. 😬


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