Apple pie. Is it the All-American Pie? I don’t know, perhaps. But to me, it’s tradition. It’s the pinnacle of mine and my mother’s relationship. This might sound sad. It is, but it’s not. As a mom, you want to create traditions for your kids to remember and pass on. I used to think that these traditions had to be spectacular, intentional and well planned. Which is why for years, at least in part, I thought I wouldn’t cut it as a mom.
I perceived my childhood as rough. How sad right? I had the things I needed, a little of what I wanted and a whole lot of love. If I could go back and slap that pre-pubescent girl, I would. I think that’s sort of what it means to be a kid though; you lack perspective, and all you know is what you know.
I looked around at my friend’s mom and formed this image of what I thought a mom was or should be. And I failed, for a very long time, to see the things my mom gave me.
For all her shortcomings, my mom did a lot of things really freaking good. And she certainly loved me in the best way she knew how. This brings me back to apple pie, which in my opinion is the best kind of pie: The All-American Pie. It’s representative of America (we can argue about which pie is really the pie of America at a later date). It’s representative of family, love and in my case, tradition.
Proud as Pie
My mom didn’t bake much, but when she did it was apple pie. Some of my best memories growing up are of me in the kitchen with my mom eating the apples coated in sugar and cinnamon, playing with the extra dough, and listening to my mom swear as she messed up the dough. My brothers still joke whenever I make a pie, they ask “did you swear like Judy?”
I am proud to say though that I’ve gotten pretty darn good at this whole pie crust game. As much as we joke, my mom was always proud that her apple pie was in a homemade crust. And she really should have been because she really was good at making it. I think what she was most proud of, though she’ll never admit it, was that she had the entire recipe memorized because she was taught to make this by my Dad’s mom.
She was proud though and it makes me smile to think of that version of my mom. She was happy, but more than that she was confident, something I rarely saw in her. I think if I could point to one thing that ruined my mom’s and my relationship it would be just that; her lack of confidence, because she resented me for mine and I hated her for that. SO, it’s no wonder that I now love making my mom’s apple pie so much because I get to channel that one really great memory, the image of my mom so very confident and I’m proud of her in that memory, even looking up to her.
What Will These Memories Become?
Last week when I was baking apple pie for Thanksgiving I was really lost in thought. My kids are so proud that they are now part of this tradition, they know how to make the pie and they love helping when I do. I was making pie and talking to my kids and thinking about how they have absolutely no fucking clue what this pie really means to me. It’s this source of great pride and deep sadness all wrapped up in to one delicious pie and that’s really a mind fuck.
But there they sat chatting away, eating the apples coated in sugar and cinnamon, asking to play with the extra dough, listening to me swear at the dough*. I couldn’t help but think, what will this memory look like for them some day? Will it too be a mind fuck? Will they happen upon this writing and think “wow, I had no idea”? Do they in fact see through me? Or will it be, what I hope, a memory of their mom confident and happy spending time with them? Will they consider it a tradition?
Shaping Their Someday
As a kid you lack perspective and while it makes you a whiny ass hat, I think it also sort of saves you. Maybe my mom was making that pie in my memory and it was the same mental mind fuck for her and I had absolutely no idea. I instead remember her as this happy confident woman. Now my kids are making new memories and they are clueless because my feelings, my memories, are not theirs and I’m thankful for that. I think one of the saving graces as a mom is actually perspective.
I know that these moments while they may seem fleeting or insignificant, they will define my kids someday. Not my memories or where I came from, but the right now will someday be their memories, where they came from. While I don’t have control over every part of them I do have complete control over the now. Whether I want it to or not, all these moments will become their memories.
The best thing we can do as moms, parents really, is realize this opportunity we have and keep that in perspective. We cannot be perfect all the time, and we shouldn’t be, but we should fully take hold of this opportunity to create a now that’s worth shaping their someday. The insignificant, the significant, the worst days, the best days – we have no way of knowing what will someday become their memories and what they’ll hold up as a tradition.
Keeping the Traditions Alive
It’s important to remember that just because it’s happening right now, doesn’t mean it won’t last many life times. Every time I make apple pie it hurts [and they have no idea] and I’m happy and I’m proud and they see that. Every time they make apple pie they’re happy and they’re proud and they feel that. And that’s what keeps the tradition alive, the way that we as moms shape the now for our kids.