A time to cook…

I love to cook.  I say this because tonight I sit, eating leftover turkey and dressing (defrosted from the freezer) out of a cup, while watching my sons eat a peanut butter sandwich and a corn dog, respectively.  What in the world has happened to us?  How can the absence of one person in a home turn everything upside down and inside out? Is this the norm for folks that live alone (or are single parents)? 

I used to plan meals.  We ate around 6pm, without fail, every week night.  I have a collection of cookbooks that are now gathering dust.  Every place we’d visit, I’d purchase a locally-inspired cookbook as a souvenir, so you can imagine that my bookshelves are overflowing.  Mark enjoyed eating good food just as he enjoyed life, with gusto, love and appreciation.  He loved for me to cook, and I loved to do it.

Now I go sometimes for a week or longer between grocery runs.  As long as we have milk and bread, we seem to be able to get by.  But we’ve been just “getting by” for almost 4 months now, and I’m growing tired of not having a dinnertime.  We used to sit around, eating and talking about our days.  Now it seems that the television is on way too much, and tuned into stations I’m growing to dislike enormously (sorry Disney XD and Cartoon Network, nothing personal). 

How do I turn this around?  These boys are looking to me to lead the household, and to be quite honest, half the time I don’t have a clue as to what I’m doing.  I talk a good game, smile and assure them that “I’ve got this,” while my heart and brain are telling me otherwise.  You’d think something as easy as re-establishing dinnertime would be a no-brainer.

But there’s a glaringly-empty spot at the table.  I’ve kept my position, strategically placed closest to the kitchen, so I can grab things as needed.  The boys, however, have rotated spots.  Andrew’s taken over Mark’s spot, across from me, and Ben, who had the worst seat (with his back to the television!) has gravitated to AJ’s old position.  We miss the master of conversation, the guy that never lacked for things to say, who was never quiet unless his mouth was full.  I pale in comparison, and I’m sure not as interesting to his sons.  The empty spot at the table and in our hearts is why our dinnertime consists of sandwiches and defrosted meals in cups.

 I think if we can get back into the groove of a more normal eating pattern, we may begin to feel better about things in general.   So, if anyone out there wants to volunteer to come over and sit in our empty spot, I’m getting ready to begin scanning my cookbooks for new creations and need feedback (ha! that was sort of funny..).

There really is something about gathering around a table, together, partaking of food and beverage.  It’s a time for laughter, conversation, and nourishment for both body and soul.  With it, you can gaze lovingly (or laughingly) into your family member’s eyes and connect.  Without it, the family (at least this one) is just existing, not nourishing itself. 

Well, the buck stops here.  Tomorrow I make a real grocery list.  One that includes fruits, fresh veggies, and a good bottle of wine.  By this weekend, I pledge to have a dinnertime plan in place.  Now if I can just remember what fresh produce looks like 🙂

to be continued….

One thought on “A time to cook…

  1. Hey Nancy, what if you changed up the routine a bit, kind of as an ice breaker… new traditions, new ideas, etc….. maybe turn the kitchen table around or reposition it a bit so it doesn't sting quite as much with the same empty spot. I'm not trying to move Mark out or have him be forgotten by any means, but maybe just create new traditions….. maybe pick a day of the week for each boy……. like maybe Tues is Ben day and on that day, he gets to choose what ya'll eat for dinner, then you all make dinner together. Then maybe Thurs is Andrew night and he gets to choose, and you all make dinner together…. by everyone being an active part in putting the meals together, the tv can be off, and ya'll really will have a good time creating your own signature masterpieces…….. and so what if one night ya'll have chocolate cake and ice cream for dinner??????? We love to eat tacos, spaghetti, home made pizza, or even breakfast for dinner… and since we started making meals together, the kids have gained much confidence in the kitchen, created new recipe ideas(such as easy chicken quesidillas), and also gained kitchen skills….. then at some point they'll even want to create a meal just for you! (it may be PB&J, spaghetti noodles, and fried eggs, but so be it)….. might also have another night that's designated as all go's night…. meaning everything goes…… from left overs out of the fridge to cereal….. sometimes when everyone is tired, it's cold outside, and everyone just needs some snuggle time, there's absolutely nothing wrong with everyone eating something easy like soup, sandwich, etc… might even rent a redbox movie, and have a picnic in the living room floor…. sometimes we'll bathe early, start a fire in the fireplace, and camp out in the living room….. or we pick up panda express – my kids proudly call it pooping panda (if ya'll liek that, and we make sure to eat with chop sticks)…… that's a real hoot around here…… it usually ends up being a spearing match with us getting impatient and just stabbing the food with the chop sticks……. and that's ok…. just make sure to keep easy things to prepare on hand…… spaghetti and pasta are always home runs here…. chicken tenders that you can grill easily even on the indoor grill, toss some baking potatos in the oven, and make a quick salad….. the kids can even prepare the baking potatos and salad themselves while you do the chicken….. and they'll be sooooo proud….. pancakes and waffles are also also great too, and really easy… the kids can help mix it up and watch 'em cook… a quick indoor electric griddle works great for this, and is easy clean up too…..And don't forget your crock pot!!!!! You are an AWESOME Mommy, and your boys know it! Just let it be a memorable, learning experience for you all..Brent is now working 4 twelve day shifts, then off for 4 days, then 4 days of 12 day shifts, etc….. so the days he's working, We're pretty much on our own. I can't contact him or talk to him throughout the day whatsoever, and when he gets home, he is usually pretty wiped out, so the kids and I have kind of developed our survival guide……. You may see Ben and Andrew find something they are really good at and they really enjoy……. we often call my son, Chase, our little cook……. he loves to cook, and really is pretty good at it… just a thought…….

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