The hot Summer days always remind me of camping with my Dad. Late Summer is a struggle in the South for anyone who doesn’t work for themselves. As our electrical bills climb our jobs fall. Being the breadwinner of the family, this usually puts me in an overly stressed state. I spend countless nights rolling tamales till 3 am just to turn around and give all my profits to the utility company. I try my best to keep normality for my girls, hoping that my stress doesn’t spread to them and put a damper on their very limited years of childhood ease and comfort.
Rolling 700 tamales over 2 days gives you a lot of time to think, too much time probably. A memory that always pops up is my childhood camping trips. My Dad is without a doubt a cool Dad. His 70’s VW Camper Van with a pop-up roof didn’t hurt. My memories are running in the woods, going to the wave pool and eating pancakes made with Jiffy Strawberry Muffin Mix (seriously I can still taste those damn pancakes). It is that feeling of complete freedom from worries and stress that only a four-year-old, munching on strawberry pancakes in just her underwear can have. I have tried this as an adult and it doesn’t work. Don’t get me wrong, I still recommend you eat pancakes in your underwear. Especially if you have teenagers to embarrass. It's not complete freedom but the exclamations of, “Mom, gross!! Why must I live here?” is worth it, alone.
My Dad used to tell me that the pop-up roof bed was my princess castle and I believed him. Now that I have children of my own, I realize he was still struggling with the stress of being a young parent. Considering how I am as an adult, I can’t imagine the kind of aggravation/humor I caused as a child. I am sure the camping and Jiffy pancakes came from being on that tight budget that only a struggling parent can understand. The need to give your children the best lives you can while all the time wondering how you are going to keep up with the never-ceasing, ever looming bills. As I roll each tamale I try to remind myself, this is worth it. I will roll 1000’s more if it means I can see them run down a trail laughing and rolling eyes at their ridiculous mother.
We can’t afford trips to the beach, expensive concerts, mall shopping sprees and the like. I feel guilty about that until I take them camping. The mornings of giggles, the screams when a rainstorm pushes waves of water into the tent, the insistence that it isn’t a camping trip till I make breakfast tacos and the nights around the fire seeing who can out smart-ass each other. This will be their memories when they struggle as we all do one way or another. So every August I will keep rolling tamales and imagine eating strawberry pancakes in my underwear.
My Dad finally retired this month. Something he has truly earned. Thanks Dad for giving me these memories to keep going. I think I had the best princess castle a girl could ask for. Sorry for throwing up those pancakes and making you run a stop sign which then got you pulled over. Even princesses can eat too many pancakes.
What does this have to do with Hatch Green Chile sauce? Absolutely nothing. Come on now. Y’all must have figured out by now that my reason for doing things has no rhyme or reason. Now where are my granny panties and strawberry muffin mix? The girls will be home soon.