“I am the second wife,” says my friend as she tells of the trepidation that she felt moving into the home where the first wife used to live with the man she’d just married. First wife legacy was still alive in the house with it’s beige and yellow walls and a bit of pink splashed in the bedrooms. It would have to be re-done – in time.
And there were those awkward days when the first wife called far too early in the morning “to chat with the man about something written in the Gazette”. Perhaps the article had triggered a distant memory about a time that she and the man had shared. At least the hour of the call would have to change – in time.
“We aren’t conditioned with aspirations to be second. Can you recall a time where one proudly displayed a red ribbon award?”
She is second to two boys also. “SMOM”, they call her which stands for step-mom but in reality could also mean second-mom. Initially, it meant “you came after” or “I am not of your womb”. Later it translated into phone calls asking “what’s for dinner?” Over time they acquired a routine and a rhythm. The rhythm included a dinnertime when SMOM cooked the family meal. And the routine meant that the boys alternated back and forth between the homes and the dinner tables of the first and the second each night, changing only when there was a preplanned disruption to the schedule.
These regular exchanges created a plethora of dialogue between the first and the second.
“Did they pack their _______?”
“What time should I pick them up tomorrow?”
“Have you seen his English grade?”
And then there were deviations from their routine words charting into areas they did not hold in common or maybe sometimes they did; a Toni Morrison novel, the bad habits of the man, music. They finished their talks with their shared concentration on the boys, each nudging them to success from their different directions.
They continued to share the boys and the routine and as the boys grew, the “what’s for dinner” calls became a method of shopping for the supper of preference between the two. And so, the first and the second developed a secret pact. And the pact was that they would never reveal the meal.
In Sister Outsider, author Audre Lorde claimed that “Your silence will not protect you.” Perhaps the word protection is overreaching but through an agreement to stay silent, the first and the second protected each other and the rhythm and their dinner time.
When the first wife became ill and eventually died, the second wife never broke their code and she claimed position to which we should all aspire.
Melba’s Sweet Potato Waffles
from slimmed down chef Melba Wilson
- 1 cup whole wheat pastry flour
- 1/2 cup all purpose flour
- 1 Tbs brown sugar
- 1 Tbs baking power
- 1/2 tsp. cinnamon
- pinch of nutmeg
- 1 cup vanilla coconut milk
- 1/4 cup coconut oil
- 1 tsp. vanilla extract
- 1/2 cup mashed baked sweet potatoes
- 3 large eggs, at room temperature
Preheat to 400. Bake sweet potatoes in their skin for 60 minutes. Pre-heat waffle iron and set aside. Combine all the dry ingredients in a bowl and whisk till combined. In a medium bowl, combine vanilla coconut milk, mashed sweet potatoes and egg yolks. Whisk until combined. In a small bowl, beat the egg whites at a high speed until stiff peaks form. Set aside. Add the wet ingredients to the dry, whisking together until well combined. Fold in egg whites, making sure not to deflate them. Spray waffle iron with non-stick spray and pour in enough batter to fill the waffle iron halfway.
Enjoy with your family of whatever composition.