This is a four part series. You can read part one over here.

I’ve been thinking about how we moms want our kids to remember us. And maybe what we think will make an impression on them is very different than what they end up remembering. Maybe it’s not keeping up on the laundry or the dishes or doing the perfect crafts or attending every sporting event. Maybe our kids are marked by memories of our motherhood we couldn’t possibly imagine let alone check off a list of recommended parenting to-dos.

So I invited four friends this week to share a “What Mama Did” post with us. What special, unique memory did they carry away from their wash, rinse, and repeat days of childhood that their moms never could have planned for?

And on Friday I’m going to ask you to come and share your own “What Mama Did” memory. May they encourage you and remind you that you are beloved so much deeper, higher and wider than the laundry hamper.

Today, Eric shares what his mama did…

My mom would bring them to me when I was sick.

I would sit down on the couch in front of scrawling pictures and she would bring me a big bowl, steaming.

She made the gravy the right way, the way that uses real chickens, or turkeys, or a beast. I use packets that say McCormick’s. I tell myself this is OK because my mom is a great cook, and I am an efficient cook.

She probably used chicken gravy, because I remember it being lighter in color. She would dump the gravy on top of the taters and by the end of it, I’d have a beautiful stew without the chunks of meat.

I’m sure she asked how I was doing, or if I needed anything. But I always just needed the taters.

The taters do not appear as often as they used to. I’m grown and I’m busy, but sometimes I get them. Sometimes I text my wife and say chicken and potatoes and she texts, OK – or that’s my interpretation, because while she loves potatoes, she does not love potatoes.

I’ll pick up spuds on the way home, and a chicken already warming. The bird goes in the oven to stay warm, though it’s just an excuse to have taters and gravy. I’ll make the gravy the efficient way – a packet of McCormick’s and a cup or two of water. I always get two packets, because their idea of a cup of gravy is not the same as mine.

This efficient gravy does not taste like mom’s gravy. This is important. Mom’s gravy is cooked with fancy things that I don’t know about, but she’s told me about several times. She takes care to explain what she’s explained thousands of times to me because she is there and I am here. She says it’s easy, but her easy is not the same as my easy, and so I use packets. she says this is fine, so I feel good about it.

At home, I attack the taters. Mom had this peeler that is the best peeler in the world, and she has since given me three of them. It’s like a magic wand and in ten minutes I can have an entire bag of taters reduced to cubes and in a pot of water awaiting boil. She taught me this.

Late last week – maybe Thursday – it was a tater day.

The beauty of mashed potatoes is that there is always leftovers.

Today was a leftover day.

Home for lunch, I loaded the cold white chunks onto a plate and mashed them a little, then poured gravy over it. Gravy becomes a gelatin when left in the fridge, which fascinates me. It jiggles and jives while cold, then spreads itself out to blanket the taters when it’s warm.

Into the microwave, covered for explosions, I watched this happen. I watched the plate spin and the gravy turn to a more liquid state and cover the white chunks that just absorbed the heat selfishly. The timer went off, I pulled out the taters, grabbed a spoon like someone out of Oliver Twist and sat before my computer. To read. To think. To type.

{What food did your mom used to make just so?}

Eric Siewert is the mind and fingers behind He works for a publishing house in Chicagoland, where he lives with his wife, Kristin. His origins are of more noble stature: the Great State of Minnesota, where his Chef-of-a-Mom still resides. This post first appeared as a part of Just Write.