So I have a seriously irritating case of obsessive compulsive disorder (OBC). Is it? I will not leave the house without checking a million times that all water taps are closed, that all windows are closed shut and that all electric appliances that need to be switched off are indeed off.
My poor handbag; you should see the shameless way in which I harass it, in search for my bunch of keys, my sunglasses, wallet and two phones. In the process, I waste a lot of time checking and rechecking, sometimes meaningless things, risking arriving late at my destination.
My OBC is so bad I find myself obsessing over things that have already been perfected and simplified for me. I have to do things myself. For starters, instead of stocking up on pre-cut and frozen vegetables, I insist on picking vegetables from my father’s garden or sometimes buying them, washing, peeling, cutting and freezing them in neat little packages. This I suppose comes from the fussy, healthy eater I am. I want to be sure the food is free from additives as much as possible.
Then there’s the white/Cheese sauce I choose to make from scratch; chopping the onion, frying it in butter, adding some flour, seasoning, milk/cream and maybe cheese and mushrooms. When great innovators have already done this for me in easy snip-and-pour packages, ready in 2 minutes; why do I choose to go through the hassle?
What about the fresh batch of cookies or cupcakes dough I insist on mixing myself? There are countless ready-mix cake batches, ready for one to just snip and pour in a cake pan and throw in the oven, but I find myself slaving in the kitchen, wooden spoon in hand and flour strewn all over the kitchen top. Winter weekends are heavenly at my house, because of the sweet smell of baked goodies wafting effortlessly and elegantly like ballerinas in the air.
To top the cake, as if there are not enough things I am doing and learning towards rearing a baby, I find myself preparing my babies food myself. Hell, if I am capable of manufacturing his milk for him, I am more than capable to prepare his solids. Instead of buying him bottled food, every weekend you’ll find me in my teeny-tiny kitchen happily, chopping, steaming or boiling fruits and vegetables and vigorously blending them to puree perfection. After which you will find me proudly putting stickers on them for storage in the fridge/freezer.
A few days back I found myself pondering the question, why, why, why do I do this to myself? Why do I choose and even insist on making life seemingly difficult for myself? And I came to what I think is a plausible answer. Over and above being a health freak and being pedantic about doing things the “right” way, I believe I am heavily influenced by the environment I grew up in.
There are no better memories than memories of my childhood in the kitchen with my mother, especially during the bone chilling cold Lesotho winters. Being the only child I was always a “victim” of some domestic chore or other. During the summer season when trees were heavily laden with succulent peaches, my mother would take it upon herself to pick them in a huge bowl, where she would cut them in half and I armed with a steel teaspoon would scoop the pits out and in the end, we always had canned peaches to eat for years on end. She used to and still makes preserves out of quince and tomatoes by making jam and quinces and halved peaches to make fruit for dessert. She still kneads and bakes her own bread every Sunday without fail. The melt in your mouth cakes she still prepares were always a pleasure to indulge in. So just like my mother, cake ingredients are always available in the grocery unit. There does not have to be a special reason for me to go to the grocery store to stock up on some baking powder or some desiccated coconut.
I guess it’s true really that “an apple never falls too far from the tree”. I may not want anything to do with preserving quinces or peaches, but I do love the feeling of preparing that cake dough from scratch or pummeling my sons fruits and veggies into submission with a hand blender.
I did not give it much thought then, if at all, but as I looked back over the years, through my rear-view mirror, I realized that I had loved and appreciated the motherly qualities in my mother and secretly wished to be her when I grew up. So somehow this “I can and I want to do it from scratch mentality” makes me feel like I’m a proper lady, someone worthy of being called woman, a proper mother ……….We are all allowed to indulge in silly little things that make us feel like we are on top of the world, things that make us feel like we are above all else.
Martha Stewart….I’m watching you!