She’s leaving, and this time, I think it’s for good.
My daughter was a victim of our last economic downturn and I was its beneficiary. She couldn’t get a job that paid her anywhere near her worth—or enough for a tiny studio apartment in a not-yet discovered neighborhood. So I got her for two extra years.
It was difficult at first. This unexpected gift of time together was not what either of us had planned. We were wholly unprepared for how to live together now that she is no longer a child. After a series of unpleasant skirmishes (did they arise most often when the moon was in a certain phase?) we adjusted and fell into a sweet rhythm of sharing details, small and large, of our lives, the way you do only when you have the luxury of much time together. We relied on each other to vent, secretly boast, obsess, dish, worry, laugh and so much more.
But the time came for her to go. I understand it didn’t feel good to be living at home at this age, and maybe sometimes it felt too good. I tried—really I did!—to not Mommy her, and she worked hard to act like an independent, self-sufficient adult. Neither of us was entirely successful.
In stern talks with myself during these past two years, I swore I would avoid making “life lesson” mother-daughter statements. But she moved out now; the cork is popped and the lessons are bubbling out in exuberant escape.
- Don’t wait until you are hungry to decide what to do about dinner: you will not make good choices.
- Love and flaunt those drop-dead sexy heels when the occasion calls for it, but remember your feet are a treasure that must be coddled more than they are corseted.
- Create a space, if only at a certain time of day, that is peaceful and private. If that requires getting up at 5am, do it at least once a week, but preferably daily.
- Mildew and dust are your enemies: go to great lengths to keep your living space free from both.
- Freely admit when you do not know something. Never admit a stranger into your apartment.
- Go straight to the question: you needn’t introduce it by stating you have one. Similarly, a joke is ruined when prefaced with an announcement of its arrival.
- Master cooking (at least) one healthful dish that is not just satisfying, but makes you feel good when you eat it. When you prepare it, you will know you are taking good care of yourself. I would suggest this vegetable soup, which you have always loved.
- Keep a secret stash of money. Stick spare change there, and when you are feeling flush, throw in some paper money. No matter what, don’t use your stash to buy shiny pretty things. You will know when its time has come.
- Don’t lean on walls, counters and furniture. Your body should be strong enough to stand up straight on its own. And while I am on it: never, ever eat standing up (except for an ice cream cone).
- While you should, of course, always want to please your mother, it is more important that you are proud of your accomplishments. After all, I was busting with delight when you sneezed for the first time.
- Eat clean food whenever possible, but don’t miss out on the occasional pleasure of Swedish fish, marshmallow fluff and All Sorts. That also applies to leisure activities, friendships and men.
- Speaking of which: smart is good, but it is not the only thing. Many interesting people are not as smart as you; some who are smarter might be dull. The inverses may also be true.
- Do not wear something only because it is in fashion. That would make you a sheep.
- Be willing to truly think through a point of view that is diametrically opposed to yours. Doing so will teach you tolerance.
- The man you marry should make you laugh so hard and unexpectedly that at least once you spit food out your mouth or a drink out your nose.
- It doesn’t matter how big or small the cause or act, donate some of your time (not just money) to making this world better. Your primary volunteer years are now and then again after you hit your mid-forties—use them well.
- Show affection and avoid affectation. Marvel at the power and influence of two little letters, the prism made by a dew drop in the early morning sun and the rhythmic music of human breath sleeping close to your ear.
- Do not use starchy food to soothe a broken heart or answer an aching need. One ounce of chocolate will do a better job. Or refer to #7.
- Treasure cooking dinner for yourself and others. Even if you make a grilled cheese sandwich, you are nourishing body and soul. Then again, don’t take food too seriously or over think it. As with sex, that is a sure way to ruin all the fun.
- Call your mother often.
Here is a recipe that you can make when you get home from work. It isn’t an entire meal (because please remember you need protein), but you can make it the focus of a meal that includes a little of that brisket we snuck in your freezer.
Roast Cauliflower Steak
1 head cauliflower
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil*
sea salt and black pepper to taste
1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Coat a baking sheet pan with cooking spray.
2. Place the cauliflower on your cutting board with the stem facing down. Cut through the head, making one-inch thick slices. Use a big off-set spatula to transfer the cauliflower “steaks” to the baking pan. Place the end pieces, which break apart into florets, in a bowl.
3. Brush the top of each steak lightly with some of the oil; toss the remaining oil with the florets and lay them out on the pan. Sprinkle with salt and pepper (and remember, you can always add more later). Place in the oven and roast until the cauliflower is lightly browned on the underside, about 10 minutes; turn and continue cooking until it is again browned on the underside, but more importantly tender when poked with a fork. It should take a total of about 17 – 20 minutes.
Makes about 4 servings
Nutrition per serving: 100 calories, 7 g fat, 1 g sat fat, 3 g protein, 3 g fiber, 394 mg sodium
* When it comes to buying extra virgin olive oil, California Ranch Olive Oil , which is available in many grocery stores, gives you the best bang for your buck.