Thanks for Taco Night, Mom
The sun shone through the living room window in a soft glow that brought warmth only family nights can bring. All over the table laid out the Saturday paper. Dad read the business section on his designated sofa spot, clearing his throat every five minutes or so. We had the comics while we laid on the carpeted floor, feet swinging; The colourful comics because it was Saturday. Mom prepped the toppings in the kitchen and the smell of spices filled our noses.
The night we all got ready to feast on in a gluttony fashion. Mostly because we had an intense competition who could eat the most tacos. I am proud to say I beat my older sister most days. They were the hard kind, the ones you put in the oven to make crispy like a tortilla chip. Everyone’s favourite, so I thought.
One Saturday taco night, when I had come home from a week at university, tacos were being made as expected. I joined Mom in the kitchen this time and she expressed the truth to the taco night on her end. ‘Oh I don’t like taco night at all. It’s so much work.’ She said.
I had never realized that one in our family might not be considering taco night as the favourite. Confusion set in, as to me taco night not only was the best meal, it was also the easiest. We took the tortilla shells from the box, the seasoning from the package, and the salsa from the jar. The difficulty didn’t come from chopping up the veggies, did it?
I chopped up the veggies in our squishy, rented basement kitchen while listening to a Jack Johnson CD playing softly in the background. The meat had already been cooked and the tortillas, soft this time, were becoming warm in the oven. Soft because that was his favorite and I loved to make him happy. Turns out, I also like them soft and wondered why our family never had them when I was younger. He watched the Hockey game while I prepped the meal.
A big part of being a wife for me included cooking. Mom did all the cooking in our family growing up and my own determination made that my job in this marriage too. He half expected it himself as he grew up in a household so similar. The traditional roles may be frowned upon but for our families it worked and I saw that it was good. Being able to cook a decent meal for him was somewhat of an expected role in our marriage. Not fully on his part, but mostly on mine. If I couldn’t I knew I would feel that I had in some ways failed as a wife. It was an unrealistic and unreal expectation I put on my own heart.
Thankfully tacos from the box were pretty straight forward. A competition no longer existed as to who could eat the most, he beat me without question.
We loaded up our tortillas, took them to the couch and enjoyed a meal together while watching the borrowed television set, this time switched to The Big Bang Theory.
I thought again about my mom’s comment, still confused. To me, taco night was a meal I could guarantee not to mess up and my husband would be more than satisfied after. An easy win in my books.
‘Mom! Can we have tacos for dinner?’ My four year old asked excitedly after her last day of school for the week.
‘Sure!’ I said and then thought about the evening ahead.
It should be easy enough to pull together. He took the kids outside to play while I browned the meat. This time I made homemade salsa, a big step up from the chopped veggies only seven years ago. My confidence in cooking had sky rocketed over seven years of being in charge of the majority of the dinners. In fact, it became a love of mine in a way I never thought possible the first night I made the boxed tacos in our small rented apartment so many years ago.
As I set the dishes out on the kitchen table, I finished up the meat. This time the soft tortillas were put in the microwave for a last minute heat up before calling everyone inside for dinner.
Still too young to put together their own tacos, I began the taco filling process. Meat on the tortilla, cheese on the side, and don’t forget the ‘white sauce’. The meat stayed on the stove top to keep warm, and the toppings laid out on the counter to keep room on the small kitchen table. I walked back and forth from the stove to the table, the fridge to the table, and the counter to the table about eight times before sitting down to try and make my own taco, only to have everyone else finish theirs up and be ready to move on to the next.
Tacos weren’t a plated dish and it was my job to serve them to the family. It’s all part of being in charge of cooking and mealtime.
Everyone finished up their tacos before I finally took a bite into mine. As I did so I looked at the mess spread out on the kitchen table, the counter, and the stove top.
‘Ah,’ I thought.
I get it now, Mom. I get it.
But Mom, did you know? The night that is seen as so much work brings memories of warmth and a family love that fill my soul every time I begin to brown that meat and throw in the packaged spices. Mom, it was you who created that. And I pray that I might be creating even a smidgen of the same warmth for my own family.
Thanks Mom. Thanks for taco night.