Taking It Slow

I want to scream. I’m standing in the kitchen next to my mom who’s fixing me a plate. She’s taking forever, as usual. She picks up the rice and some grains fall from the spoon. She must replace those 5 grains of rice. So she dives in for 500 replacements. I tell her 3 times that the amount of food on my plate is enough, but still she keeps piling it on. This has been a lifelong experience. She thinks I’m starving myself always. I’ve gained ten pounds this year and she’s giddy with excitement that maybe I’ll live. Her child will not starve this year. The food on my plate is piling up and it’s starting to concern me, but she’s taking so long that food is all I can think about and I’m starting to feel like, yes, I can eat all of this food.

Now she’s swirling the sauce around in the pot. With her ladle she raises the sauce, she’s pouring it over the chicken, getting the thicker sauce to the top. Now she’s selecting the chicken. Nothing too boney, largest piece is for my dad. She’s looking for the one that’s just right. She tries to add a second piece, but I tell her no. She adds one anyway.

Now she’s placing the chicken beside the rice, pouring over it the golden orange sauce. Now for the plantain. Now she’s searching through the sauce for slices of onions and bell peppers. She lays them gently, slowly, over the plantain, adds a little more sauce.

And I want to scream. Then I remember:

  1. Telling my kids that home is right down the street and they can wait a little longer to eat the food we just bought. They should eat at a table or at least a couch. “You are not wild animals. You can wait.” I’ve said it so often that they’re used to it by now.
  2. Always being the last one to order at restaurants and the last one to finish eating because I eat so slowly. “Oh my goodness, you eat so slowly” is a sentence I’ve heard from childhood till now. I can’t speed up.
  3. Being stared at while chopping vegetables. My friends finding my slowness amusing and sometimes annoying. “I’m going as fast as I can to maintain quality,” I’ve explained. They ain’t buying it.
  4. I’ve always been a slow reader. In college I took a Studies in the Novel course and we were required to read an entire novel every week. When I heard this, I was aghast and wondered how it could be possible. Needless to say, I never once finished a novel in time.
  5. It takes me ages to finish one piece of writing. It’s getting to be a bit ridiculous.

I’m reminded of when I first read Memoirs of a Geisha. Though it was years ago, some aspects of that book have never left me. What stuck with me the most was the intentionally slow, precise, graceful and waiting nature of a geisha’s movements.

I think that when people speak of grace what they mean is slowness. A slowing down. Everything that I connect with grace, every image, has an element of slowness. The dress floats as if suspended on air. Her movements glide. Say the word glide aloud. Doesn’t it make you slow down to say it? The tea was poured slowly and deliberately. How else were her clients to admire the beauty of her wrist? The Samurai, also, didn’t they move slowly? Meticulously. Didn’t they practice mindfulness and make every day activities an art form?

Maybe I should have more patience with my mother. Maybe I should give in and study her techniques. After all, it does appear that she is my future self.

13 thoughts on “Taking It Slow

  1. Even though we might balloon into little elephants, I suspect, mothers would continue to press upon us to eat just a little more. Every time I go back home, and even on the phone, mine continues to insist, “I hope you are eating well. What have you cooked today? I know you eat less.” I do often scream when I am home. Basically, I am your picture of a perfectly ill-behaved daughter. I am also trying very hard not to become a version of her yet often I think there’s no getting away 😉

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Haha, I think as adults, we’ve all wanted to hurl ourselves onto the ground and throw a full blown tantrum, esp. with our parents! I’ve been fighting becoming my mom but the inevitability is showing itself more and more all the time. Just embrace the dark side, girlie. Bring a blanket because it’s cold in here.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Isn’t it a mum’s job to always say that we’re not eating enough? 😛
    I try to always remember to slow down and enjoy things a little more, I often feel like I’m in a rush to do everything. But some things you have to slow down to enjoy. Hiking, reading, cutting veggies (so you don’t cut yourself like I sometimes do).
    I also feel like my mum is the future version of me, she takes photos of every single event, no matter how small the rest of us may consider it, she emails/messages me constantly telling me about her day, she falls asleep during movies, she is short but very feisty. I aspire to be her 🙂

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    1. It’s been taking some effort on my part, but I’ve also been working on slowing down mentally. Not racing ahead always to the future but staying in the present moment and appreciating it.
      I love that description of your mom. It sounds like all of them just came to you all at once without having to think. It means you’ve thought a lot about her before and that makes me happy.

      Liked by 1 person

  3. HAH! My Mom is the same way. I’m thinking it must be a generational era thing, particularly for those who grew up in small rural towns in the 1940s and 50s. My Mom came from a very tough childhood right out of the Great Depression then straight into WW2. She has told me that many days/nights she and her 11 other siblings didn’t know what or how they could put anything on the kitchen table to eat. Today, and having retired from Southwest Airlines and Mobil Oil Corp., she feels it is her duty to make damn sure everyone has PLENTY to eat and several choices of plenty! Her kids and absolutely her grandkids! Hahaha!

    Lyz, I can’t tell you how many times all that food (produce especially) over the years has gone bad in BOTH her refrigerators. 😮 I honestly feel that deep down she is still not sure whether she, her family, or this nation will have enough to eat. Those childhood years of her’s have made a permanent impression on her psyche for the rest of her life.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Oh my goodness, yes! Growing up, we developed the habit of throwing no food away. My friends laugh at me now because I still fight the habit of putting 4 spoons worth of mashed potatoes back into the fridge for later. It’s the way we were raised to never take for granted what we had. It’s been over the top at times and I’m getting better, but still, I always feel guilty throwing away food because of how important my parents made it.

      They grew up in Haiti, one of 11 and the other one of 12. So there was always the necessity to make the most of what they had.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Oh MY! Sounds as if we have very similar familial dynamics (and dysfunctions? hehe)

        I do indeed feel “making the most of what is had/given” is a fantastic attitude, especially when large amounts of gratitude are offered! It is amazing how well the human body can adapt and cope with so little, eh? 😉

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