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  • Writer's pictureMelina Meador

Bravery (Or A Pot of Beans)

Yesterday I made a huge pot of pinto beans. They simmered all day and made my home smell like my childhood - we ate a lot of beans growing up and they were delicious.

It got me thinking about my mom. She grew up on white bread and canned cream of chicken soup but eventually taught herself to cook once she married my Dad. This was in the health conscious 1980's and they really got into good food, good cooking.

I'm grateful because all I knew growing up was that my Mom made tasty food and home-made bread. Pies, muffins, pickled green beans, and homemade salad dressing graced the table. She made a killer leg of lamb.

Speaking of salad, we could never eat quite enough fresh roughage in Mom's opinion. There was salad dressing on holidays only (and it was the family recipe for bleu cheese that you wanted to eat by the spoonful because of its creamy deliciousness) and for years we had salad at least for lunch and dinner and some seasons even at breakfast. You haven't lived until you've eaten a wedge of raw green cabbage before breakfast.


Dad and Mom were doing something radical besides adding veg to every meal.

They home-schooled their seven children.

Today home education is mainstream but in the 'eighties it was weird. When they decided to take an active hand in their children's schooling, family and friends were a bit concerned. As more people across the country formed co-ops for their homeschooled students, and as my siblings and I grew up, the naysayers saw value and stopped quizzing us in the grocery store about history or math or if we had read a book yet that their child had just finished.

It struck me yesterday as I stirred the beans that there is a reason my parents are tired with a a capitol T.

They set out to build new cultural norms for their family. What does that look like?

- Exhaustion, because setting new habits and routines is hard work.

- Disappointment, because your children will not live up to your hard fought ideals.

- Surprise and delight, because things may turn out better than you thought.

My husband and I have set out in some new areas of cultural forming for our home and children, but we're building on habits from childhood. Those pinto beans. Salad and fresh veg at most meals. Being alright with being a little different. Our parents (and my wonderful in-laws who also set a new course their family) set us up for success in may ways, and I appreciate that.

This isn't a love letter to home education or ideology or being weird (or even pinto beans though they are just so good) but instead to bravery.

To having the guts to take chances and search out the best way to live and going after that.

Thank you Dad and Mom. You've done well, and you're tired. The story isn't over yet, and your sacrifices matter. I'm getting the benefit and so are your grandchildren. (Though I may not feed them raw cabbage before breakfast they sure love beans.)

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