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Packed Lunches

“I don’t know what it is about food your mother makes for you, especially when it’s something that anyone can make – pancakes, meat loaf, tuna salad – but it carries a certain taste of memory.” -Mitch Albom

I bake a lot. True. Cooking, though, is something we have reserved for Mom to do. Whether it’s my inherent dislike for touching raw meat and fish or just the worry that I will make a disaster in the kitchen, I do not know why I am not yet inclined to explore cooking as much as I explore baking. Or maybe because my Mom always behaves like a food critic when we go out to eat so I am afraid she will not find my cooking to her liking. It’s weird because I let her taste the stuff I bake too. It’s just that I am a bit more adventurous at baking than she is.

Mommy was always hands-on despite being on-the-go. I remember back when she used to work, even if we had help at home, she made it a point to wake up early to prepare our baon (packed meal) for school. She did this everyday even after she was forced to retire when I was fifteen. And even when my sister and I started working already, Mom still prepared our food to bring to work.

Weird, right? Well, in the Philippines, one is not required to move out at age of eighteen. Those who can afford to work in the main business districts of the country without having to move out and rent their own place would find this pretty normal. There’s not much pressure to be on your own here. I guess it’s part of our being a close-knit family type of society that has to do with it.

Having been retired for more than ten years, I bet Mom’s bored at home. Recently though, she’s taken up drawing and coloring. At work, I would sometimes find my phone with message alerts from Mom, sending me a pic of her latest artwork. It’s cute, really. Sometimes though, I still cannot wrap my head around the fact that roles seem to reverse as one gets older. I used to be the one showing her my drawings as a kid. Now, she’s showing me hers.

Another hobby she discovered lately is food art or something about bento making. She saved her pension money to buy herself the tools to make lunches cute. For quite some time though, I wondered why nothing was coming out of all her purchases. Until one day, I discovered my rice smiling at me.

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Normally, I would see the food she was preparing while having my breakfast. I was not able to on the day she made this. She even managed to give it a blush! My office mate saw it and almost choked on his drink because he found the face funny in a good way. He told me it’s a good thing that my mom has something making her busy or striking her interest.

Of course, rice would not be good on its own. I had some meat and egg on the side as well.

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How she managed to make the heart, I do not know. All I know is that I found it adorable even if I felt like a first grade kid. Imagine if bento making was a thing already when I was a kid. I bet I would be the envy of my classmates!

Motivated by my happiness over my cute meal, she exceeded herself the following day. Oh what fun she must have had while making this!

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I realized how lucky I still am to have my Mom around. And overly protective might she be, I am lucky that there’s someone who still eagerly takes care of me and cooks good food for me. Despite not having a perfect relationship with her and having had lots of fight with her, she’s still always there for me and my sister.

She’s engrossed with drawing again and I recently got her a box of oil pastels. There’s been no cute packed meals lately. I am sure though that when it strikes her again, she would make more adorable designs.

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