“Even if I knew that tomorrow the world would go to pieces, I would still plant my apple tree” ~ Martin Luther
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(This post is Part II in a short series about the perils of parenting and willingness to try again. Part I can be found .. here)
I've always loved to write.
When I was a kid, I'd collected more than a few pen pals. I can remember spending hours creating the stationary before scribbling over and over again on scratch pads, trying to find the best words to say before committing them to my prettiest paper. I was always snooping around by my father's chair for cool-looking pencils and new notebooks, ready to be written on with
childish doodles and loopy letters
These were some of my favorite things. With so many blank pages awaiting me, I'd spend lazy afternoons lying on my bed, lost in their metal spirals and opaque lines
But every time something unfortunate seemed to happen
I'd write the wrong word on the fresh page, which required crossing it out, erasing, or scribbling over it entirely. Worse yet,
my mother would read it(!)
Or maybe it was a notebook devoted to tracking a new resolution. If I hadn't had the best day, I was faced with the choice of recording it and breaking my record of goodness or skipping the day altogether. Either way, the whole thing was flawed now, so I'd be forced to start a new one.
But of course, that one would quickly end with a similar fate, until soon enough, I'd have yet another half-filled, abandoned and hidden under my mattress
“Nothing to see here.”
After forty + years, I've never finished an entire journal. I've never made it to the final page. I've never allowed the scribbles to linger, to see them, hold them up to the light, or even attempted to find their beauty
It's always been easier to tear out the page, make a mistake, tear out the page, make a mistake, tear out the page until finally the whole thing was abandoned and I was again
My daughter turned twenty-one this week
Nearly four years have passed since that fateful night. The night she hopped a bus and disappeared into the darkness, and also from my life.
She's older now, with the perspective only time and motherhood can bring. I'm glad we're trying again.
Admittedly, setting aside the hurt and anger from all of those years is easier said than done. With even the smallest of hints that something might be wrong, I can feel the waves of panic as they come rushing back
Mostly I'm able to catch myself and see them for what they are
Sometimes I'm not
Last week, in the moment, in a situation that had the simplest of explanations, the only thing I could see was the mess. The what-could-have-beens, the what-should-have-beens. The sadness because of those who have written her off
“Nothing to see here.”
Yes, who she was at sixteen is who she'll be forever and ever, amen.
No, this is not true (for any of us)
I've learned many things as a result of that season
That it's not easy to bare your flaws, either as a failing parent or as a lost child. It's far easier to avoid looking at the cutting room floor full of strings of misunderstanding, misplaced expectations, and cropped truths.
The simple solution? Abandon
The harder solution? Salvage
Perhaps this is the truest form of a relationship then. To trust that even amidst scribbles and silence, the worry and heartbreak, scrawled words and selfishness, uneven loops and strained words that the whole can somehow be made lovely again.
That we don't have to start over from scratch
I've learned that moving on isn't automatically rainbows and puppies.
It often requires us to live amongst the sadness, the strain, and the even mess. Instead of pretending it's not there, to recognize it will be a lifelong companion on this journey of ours. That our days will be a constant iteration of scribbling what we need, editing what we don't, and keeping the pages going
as long as we're able
Allowing the relationship to simply live in the open. Letting it be bare, with all of its flaws, hurts, and everyday successes.
Accepting there will be multiple holiday dinners to cook, one for your family — the other for your children.
Accepting that you'll never be rid of the mess, not all the way. Knowing in the long run, you'll both be better because of it
“I'm sorry, Mom, I really am trying to be a grown-up.”
“I know Sweetie; I am too”
One of the many things I've loved about having the garden this year is being able to share its bounty with others. So far she's loved the green beans, tried her hand at roasting beets, “I don't know Mom, they don't taste like yours,” and I'm still hoping to entice her with some fresh greens
We've loved this salad, with oven-roasted tomatoes slicked with olive oil and lime. Kale cooked along with soy sauce and coconut, becomes soft in parts and crunchy in others. It has a deep savory flavor and an amazing crunchy texture.
The easy-to-make miso dressing is a far thicker mix than a vinaigrette; one that lends itself better to drizzling over the bowl.
To make the salad a more substantial meal, add a handful or two of grains such as cooked quinoa or pearl barley. Any additional protein such as grilled chicken or fish would be great as well.
~ Adapted from A Modern Way to Eat by Anna Jones
Warm Salad of Roasted Kale, Coconut and Tomatoes
- 14 oz cherry tomatoes
- fine grain sea salt + freshly ground black pepper
- olive oil
- 2 limes, unwaxed
- 1 head (~ 7 oz) green or purple kale, stalks removed, leaves roughly torn into bite-size pieces
- handful unsweetened coconut, shaved or dried
- 1 Tbsp soy sauce
- thumb-size piece of fresh ginger, peeled and finely chopped
- 1 Tbsp white miso paste
- 1 Tbsp tahini
- 1 Tbsp honey or maple syrup
- 1 Tbsp coconut oil (or olive oil)
- 1 red chile, finely chopped
- Preheat your oven to 425° F
- Halve the tomatoes and place them on a baking tray with some salt and pepper, a good drizzle of olive oil, the zest of both limes, and the juice of one.
- Roast for 20 minutes until they're blistered and golden.
- On a separate baking tray, pile the kale on, along with the coconut.
- Drizzle the soy sauce over and toss well until everything is coated.
- Roast in the oven with the tomatoes for the last 5 to 10 minutes of their cooking time, until crisp.
- Meanwhile, combine all the dressing ingredients together in a bowl with the juice of the second lime.
- Taste and add a little more seasoning or lime juice if needed, letting your taste buds guide you— remember the dressing will be less punchy once it hits the salad.
- Take the kale and tomatoes out of the oven and transfer to a big bowl.
- Toss with the miso dressing, adding a little at a time and tasting as you go, and serve still warm.
Wonderful your daughter has returned and both of you are working out a relationship. Writing things down always help, at least for me it does. Way of expressing the good and bad.
I’m glad you and your daughter are trying to work everything out. I am so close to my kiddo that I would be so broken if we did not talk. All you can do is continue to work on it but don’t be afraid to get upset sometimes because a healthy relationship does have that.
It’s never too late. Accept the past and move on from the hurt it caused. Isn’t it funny how food often brings people together? Who’d ever think some veggies would spark such conversation and emotion? Baby steps. Baby steps indeed and praying your relationship continues to grow.
I just can’t imagine the fear you went through during that time. I’m sure it was so hard. I’m glad you’re salvaging your relationship now though.
I felt the pain deep inside me while I was reading about your daughter. Can’t imagine what you felt. Wish you the best!
Gosh it must have been an awful time for you, I wish you the best in the future with you and your daughter. I hope you have many happy memories to make together.
Wow, that would have been so painful as a parent. I a, glad that you two are trying again now, with time to soothe the hurt.
I went through a similar situation. It is difficult and the worry and anxiety never ends. I am glad that my son finally decided to stay put and finish his college education. We are building our trust in each other again and although the hurt of the past still lingers in my memory, what else is a mother to do but to accept the “lost sheep” back into her arms.
I can really relate to this. It’s so hard to separate who someone was, is, will and won’t be. Salvaging can be such a hard thing to do.
It’s a natural human instinct to hide our flaws. Pride is so strong in the human race but it’s people like you who realize it’s ok to bare those flaws because we ARE only human after all.
Although I love to write (both personally and professionally), I have never finished an entire journal either. I even had one where you answered one question every day…couldn’t even manage to stick to that one.
Warm salad looks amazing! My husband and I can eat Kale every day, cooked or raw, always tastes good.
Been excited to check out the recipe but when I am starting to read your post makes me a sad. Well guess this happens really at one point in our life. Going back to your recipe, I would gladly copy this and make on my own. Need to learn about the pre-heating part first.
I think it’s wonderful that you are getting a second chance with your daughter. I moved out of my mom’s home and into my dad’s and didn’t speak to my mom for about 3 years when I was about that age. We where able to salvage our relationship. It’s not easy but it’s worth it.