Just Like Ma’s Cooking

The Matriarch and Family Traditions

Photo by August de Richelieu on Pexels.com

With the holidays approaching, I think it’s time we give our matriarchs their flowers (that are long overdue). The planning and gathering for the holidays are most likely dominated by the women. The kitchen holds no place for the patriarchy. The matriarch (which I will refer to from now on as Ma), usually well-respected, is who brings everyone together – the glue of the family. Ma is the one who created the menu for the gathering and made sure that it was executed. This was either done so by her or tasks were delegated to other family members. Everyone was expected to fall in line. Families, some estranged, travel from different areas to celebrate under one roof. Even if you had your differences with family, you still attended dinner out of respect for Ma. She effortlessly created a room filled with love, laughter, and joy. Some families only come together on certain holidays throughout the year, so these moments are to be cherished.

This reminds me of a movie that I grew up watching called Soul Food. Soul Food was narrated from the eyes of an eleven-year-old boy – Ahmad. The movie was about a bonded family in Chicago that no matter the obstacles, they managed to meet every Sunday for dinner. When the matriarch (Big Ma) faced a health scare, the family began to fall apart. Eventually Big Ma experienced complications in her surgery, leading to her death. The family was distraught and left in shambles. Even though majority of the family were adults, they still yearned the guidance of their mother. Life became even more complicated. Out of respect for Big Ma, they put internal issues aside. However, problems weren’t easily defused as they were when Big Ma was alive.

I know this isn’t a movie review; I just wanted to provide enough detail for readers to get the full picture. I feel this movie can relate to family all over the world. This film definitely resonates with my family. I remember the holidays when my grandmother was alive and how things are so different now. My grandmother would spend countless hours cooking her best dishes (all of our favorites) or instructing us on what to do. She even had duties for the children. It was so much love put into the food and into the conversations that filled the room. I anticipated the holidays. It’s nothing that I loved more than to spend quality time (my #1 love language) with my family; not to mention that I was my grandmother’s favorite. In January 2008, my grandmother passed. Sadly, our family hasn’t been the same since.

Reading texts like Eloquent Rage by Brittney Cooper, the chapter Strong Female Leads reminded me of the pivotal part that my grandmother played in our family. There are also popular songs in the Hip-Hop and R&B culture like “Dear Mama” by Tupac Shakur and “Mother” by Ashanti that place emphasis on the importance and significance of a mother and her role. My grandmother guided our family through the worst of the worst and the best of the best and did so effortlessly. She was truly a remarkable and respected woman. She blessed our family with love, grace, and understanding. It’s absolutely true that all superheroes do not wear capes! Women are phenomenal! Women are strong! As a former blogger, @pettybrowneyes once said “it is being able to be a mom, wife, daughter, friend, sister, aunt, grandmother and a hustler all in one. To me being strong is being a woman.” (Read more here)

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