“Mama, what we eatin’? Me want ‘pitatz’ for dinnah,” exclaimed my two-year-old son.
I was puzzled when I heard Justin say the mystery word. I thought he asked me to whip up some German gourmet food like Sauerbraten or Weiner Schnitzel. Thank goodness he didn’t. He requested a popular Italian meal. His choice widely narrowed down my chance of creating another tragedy with an unsuspecting bratwurst—at least for now.
I heard my mother-in-law expel a deep sigh of relief from nearly fifteen miles away. Her memory of my first attempt with German cuisine caused her to gasp. It also created a tirade of terror in her homeland. I guess tomatoes, garlic and mozzarella aren’t the preferred accompaniments with food from Deutschland. I was confused. My grandma told me they were cooking staples.
Well, since Italian cuisine was more my thing anyway, Justin got his way with dinner that night. After an exhausting day with my toddler, my desire to cook anything ranked way below waxing my bikini line. So, since the mystery food was pizza, I was more than happy to satisfy his desire as well as my own.
Not only did Justin get his way about dinner that night, but he’s often granted other things as well. A small indulgence of his affectionate words and butterfly kisses delivers a sucker punch right through my sappy heart. It leaves me defenseless and sticky in the mess of my own maternal muck.
Speaking of affection, I enjoy cuddling with a children’s book together. A few years back while reading his favorite one, his attention temporarily waned. He gazed up at my face and studied it. I was certain he’d bubble over with words of adoration, but instead, he shared his honest observation with me.
“Mommy, you’re old,” he said, with a serious expression. He seemed proud that he articulated his observance so well.
I was shocked since I’m only a small hop over the forty-something fence. I chose not to be offended since many pairs of youthful eyes view their parents as old. To this day, I have no desire to see exactly how he envisioned me.
Somehow, when he tells me I look “funny with my hair like that” or “I stink when I play Crash Bash,” I manage to dodge the insults and kiss the lips that delivered the dig anyway. He makes up for his brutal honesty when I ask him how much he loves me and says, “more than five thousand million bazillion universes.”
My son is now six and still depends on our quiet time and special evening ritual. I guess I rely on it too; it helps me clutch to his youth before it slips away for good. Also, the selfish side of me waits for his proclamation of love as I blow my last goodnight kiss his way.
Before I tucked him under the warmth of his blankets recently, I reminded him how much he’s loved and held him like I did when he was little. As I basked in the softness of his check, I fell in love with my little man once again.
After a long, stressful day, my “mommy well” was nearly empty and I asked him how much he loved me. In a desperate search for a refill, I waited for his usual reply, but it was different this time.
“I love you as much as Jesus loves you, mommy,” he said. And, mom…I didn’t like dinner tonight; it was awful. You don’t make it as good as grandma does.”
Despite the serious blow to my culinary skills, the knowledge that he’s beginning to understand the meaning of love filled my “mommy well” to the brim. Our precious child is learning to strum to the tune of the Lord. God gave me a special gift when he chose to send our son to share in our lives—insults and all.
Justin and the German population were right—tomatoes, garlic and mozzarella are awful when served on top of German Bratwurst. Another meal tragedy occurred, but hey, I invented Bratwurst pizza!
I received clear insight that the truth doesn’t always hurt, especially when it’s counteracted with the sweetness of your own precious child. I also learned that I can’t turn this Italian girl into a German one no matter how hard I try.
I should’ve ordered “pitatz” from Gino’s. I would have spared myself that last insult!