My kitchen reeked of potatoes and onions. The smell infiltrated my hair and clothes, and even after a shower and thorough shampooing, the scent would linger hours later, causing dogs to trail after me as well as one ever hungry husband.
I was frying up latkes for my 11 year-old son’s multi-cultural holiday fest at Middle school the next day, and had been at it all afternoon.
I tried to get out of it. I did not want to make latkes. I suggested bringing in jelly donuts from Dunkin Donuts. I suggested chocolate gelt. Nope, he shook his in-need-of-a-haircut head. He wanted latkas.
I huffed and puffed and blew a lot of hot air, but of course, there I was, splattered with oil, spatula in hand flipping one potato pancake after another when my son walked in from school with his friend.
“Oh, you’re making Latkes.” his friend casually commented.
I nodded, proud of myself. Look at me, I’m making latkas. “Would you like one?” I asked, ever the altruistic domestic fry goddess.
His friend and my son each took a pancake and munched happily. “Good.” His friend said, “My mom is making them too for the multi-cultural fest next week. “
My eye started to twitch.
I turned to my son, “Honey? When did you say your thing was?
Sheepish, sweet, aw shucks oops. “Oh. I think I made a mistake.”
Gripping the spatula tightly, I flipped a potato pancake instead of flipping out. “Oh, ya think?”
“Sorry mama.” He said.
Hard to stay mad with that goofy smile combined with a sorry mama, so I turned my fire on the pan, finished up and froze the batch of them.
The next week. 7am… Actual Multi-cultural fest day.
“Baby, I’m going to reheat the latkas and bring them to school around 1pm.”
Baby bear paws around my waist, his face buried in my stomach. “Thank you, mama.”
It’s all worth for these hugs. For these hugs, I will do anything he asks.
He is crouched over, still hugging, his eyes big and hopeful. “Will you not come to my multi-cultural fest?”
But I made latkas… But you always want me to go…. But…
“Please.” He says and hugs my waist tighter, squeezing any defiance from me.
“Sure,” I say, deflated.
He squeezes me one more time, and I run my fingers through his moppy shag before a car beeps outside and he runs out the door for his ride to school. My baby is growing up. I hate this day.
I stand there for a second, watching and waving from the screen door when I feel a presence sidle up next to me. It is my youngest. His small, strong body is naked but for his Skylander underwear. He rubs the dreams from his eyes, but some still linger and he raises his sleepy arms to me. He is five for another two weeks and I will suck every drop of five left in him. I lift him up and cuddle him as I watch the car with my oldest disappear.
Sighing, I stare at the empty street. It was only a blink ago that my 11 year-old was in my arms, never wanting me to leave him, asking where his wife would live when he married, and worrying we’d send him away to college.
“I’m hungry.” My five year old says, dragging me from my wistful melancholy into the kitchen.
I wish I could keep them more innocent than knowing, more mamma boys than young men, more needing me than their friends. But time marches on, and the only thing that seems to linger is the smell of latkes.
Brilliant. So well written. Love your blog.
thank you so much!!! that’s a good start to my morning!
Aww, they do get to that stage don’t they. I have an 8 year old and I think I will cry when he asks me not to go to his school activities. Not ready for that just yet. 🙂
its soooo sad!!! but he’s still soo mushy at 11, so i guess we take what we get.
Oh, you do wring those heartstrings. I don’t want my boys to grow and leave without a backward glance either. Sigh.
growing up is tough business!
Good think moms are made tough. 🙂
I can not stand latkas. They taste and smell repulsive. My grandfather used to insist that “I’d like his,” but that was definitely not the case. I’ll focus on this rather than the thought that my daughter will one day not want her parents to come to things.
yup! focus on the latkas. it’s the way to go.
OMG, I would have died. Latkes are so much work!!!!!
i froze them and sent it off the next week. i didn’t care if they sucked or not, especially since i wasn’t invited. hey, is this your first week not on YW?
Aren’t kids great? Especially when they reach this particular age and realize they don’t need you around any more?
Yeah, you’re right. This sucks.
Oh boy, I’m sure those latkas were . . . delicious? Yeah, let’s go with that.
My 5 year old was sitting on my lap last night, and he is so wee that I could still do the thing where I grab his legs and lift them up high so that his head and shoulders are the only thing touching me. And he giggles. I will miss those giggles desperately. I am still going to hold onto my 5 for as long as I can as well. My 8 is floppy haired and loving, but oh so grown up.
it happens in the second our backs are turned!!
Touching! Hey, those thingamies look ok by the way… Take a couple of scoops and g’day to all the troops! 😉
i’ll bet janet could fry you up a couple and put me to shame!
This made me think of my son who said at the age of six that he wasn’t going to college like his sisters because he needed me around to take him to school every day and pick him up. Now he is in his third year of college – only two hours and fifteen minutes away – and seldom comes home between semesters. 😦 He’s a busy, busy, guy! – That and he has a drivers license. LOL!
aww!!! i know it’s inevitable, but it’s terrible!!! 😉
This pains me and yet it is inevitable. Beautiful essay. And the smell of latkes can linger forever…in your clothes, hair….
Yum, latkes are so awesome, but that smell is impossible to get out of your house. Last year I froze to death with the window open for hours, and it still stuck around for at least a week.
so true. and i’ve got a bunch of the box version ones now that i used to ‘fill in’ with the others, that i feel compelled to continue to make and eat. latkas all year round!