The Chef de la Maison | Mama Bird | Mother's Day

From our Creative Director, Katherine Bird Poole

I am turning into my mother.  (Seen here wearing the exact same ensemble.  Not intentionally.)  Birds of a feather and all that.

And, I am quite okay with it.  

Mary Lib and I don't talk every day.  She makes a point of not being up in my business.  She does not give advice unless it is asked of her.  She is not the first person I call when something good (or bad) happens.  She is not my best girlfriend.  When I was in my 20's and early 30's, I did not come home all that often.  I was just out there living my own life.   When an acquaintance inquired if we were estranged, my mother had a good laugh.  I had a boyfriend (later to be husband) and friends better equipped to be all of those things for me.  She just needed to be my Mama.  

And she is.  And she nourishes me as such.

My parents live on a lake, so when we gather it is usually at their home with my brother and his family.  The time together is spent playing on the water, listening to music and gathering at the table and on the dock and on the screened porch to visit.  

And, we cook.  Man, do we cook.  My mother is a gifted chef.  We did not grow up eating the exotic or fancy.  It was basic 1970's + 1980's fare, but it was always home cooked and very rarely if ever came with the instructions "uncover and bake at 350 until golden brown."  She is not a food snob,  it just did not occur to her to take short cuts.  We also always sat down at the table for supper.

Mama didn't really set out to teach me or my brother to cook, it just sort of happened.  We would be there keeping her company at the bar as she prepped dinner.  We sat by as she would coat the okra in cornmeal then carefully fry it on both sides or whisk together a marinade for a tenderloin to put on the grill.   And as we watched, she would ask questions about our lives.  She never put us directly on to boil, she just waited patiently for us to simmer then the fat would rise and be skimmed off and savored. 

Now it is our own children sitting at the bar as the adults tag team in the kitchen putting together our new favorite obsessions.  The Christmas of the cassoulet, the Memorial Day of the homemade ice cream sandwiches, the great steak sandwich debacle and the time I fried the fish for tacos in grits instead of cornmeal.  We share over meals... memories, hopes, failures, dreams, fears.  We are fed.  And, we are fed.

Mary Lib is the mother that I want to be.  As my own children have firmly taken root on the other side of the baby gate, a sentimental me asked her if she missed those times when we were squeezy little babies and precocious toddlers.  Without hesitating, she said, no.  Nooooooo.  she said, "The older you get, the more I like you."  She takes pride in having raised people that she likes and likes to be with.  And that can cook.

Here are just a few nuggets from Mary Lib about raising good people.

Tell your daughter that when she walks into a room people will notice her whether she likes it or not.  Give them something to look at.  (Advice given from a mother of tall daughters to another.  Works for a child of any size or sex.)

Let your children be children as long as they need to and don't make yourself the person they come to for entertainment.  

Always know where your child is living so that you can picture them in that place when you talk to them or visit them in your mind's eye.

Do not make demands on their time at the holidays.  Let them spend Christmas at their home.  If you want to see them, you go to them.  Besides, any time you get together is a holiday and sometimes it is a lot nicer without the pressure of Easter bunnies and birthday cakes.

Let your children make their own mistakes.  Hard as it is to watch them stumble and fall, it makes your heart soar when they do get up and take flight.  And they do.

Know your kid's favorite foods and drinks (likewise grandchildren and sons and daughters in law).  A 46 year old man will still get excited to open a pantry door and see a bag of Cool Ranch Doritos.

Love is a remembered dorito, the freedom to succeed and fail on your own terms, to stand tall, to feed and be fed.

Click the image if your mama falls under this category and we are sure to have the perfect gift for her.

Click the image if your mama falls under this category and we are sure to have the perfect gift for her.