And for a couple of meals, for a couple of months, that was true- with the exception of a couple of flavor flops, some suppers in front of the TV, and some charred food that I may have forgotten about.
|This meal was really yummy- Brussels sprouts with pasta and sausage.|
Then I started working full-time, and of course, working at Camp has the bonus perk that when there are campers, there's food, and when there's food, we can eat it. The meals in our household changed pretty drastically, and to be honest, I wasn't completely okay with it.
And I avoided the issue because I was busy and overwhelmed and frankly didn't really want to go into figuring out my feelings. That's a lot of work.
But I've been reclaiming my home and my attitude the past few months, and finally dealing with those niggling annoyances and feelings that have gotten in the way of being a joyful and productive person. And yes, it's work, but I think it's an important work.
So I started actually menu planning. And the image came back- the image of how the "ideal" meal looks. And I looked at my menu, and it looked nothing like that ideal.
Monday's supper is something fast or leftovers, because we have small group at 7. Sunday, Friday, and Saturday are labeled with a big CAMP. That only leaves three suppers that could live up to my ideal... but of course we also sometimes have meals with friends or at church, or go out to eat, or Zeke comes home late and we eat my beautiful meal directly out of the pots and pans while watching a TV show.
My menu looks pretty sad, honestly. And of course, a sorry-looking menu is a problem in itself, because Dinners are Important, and it's the Role of the Wife to Create Beauty in the Home. Because we'd like to have a baby soon, I started feeling extra pressure because What If I Have Children and Still Don't Plan a Full Menu? and Practice Makes Perfect and Children Need Family Meals.
My first solution: force it! I planned lovely, healthful meals for every day of the week, telling myself that we would eat at home and we would have that candle-lit-from-scratch experience because it is my responsibility to do it. Of course, this was a recipe for guilt, being sorely overwhelmed, and not having a clean house or a cheerful attitude but-darn-it-we're-eating-a-lovely-meal-tonight-if-it-kills-me.
My second solution: just don't make a menu! But that led to weeks of Chinese take out and frozen pizza, which made me feel terrible, first because I wasn't measuring up to the image in my head by any stretch of the imagination, and secondly because weeks of Chinese take out and frozen pizza will make you feel physically terrible. It's just the way it is.
Obviously, neither of these worked.
Which left me back at square one- with a sorry-looking menu and impossible expectations.
I had to adjust my expectations. Yes, I only cook a couple of meals a week, and they're simple. We don't eat in front of a crackling fireplace with soft music playing in the background, and we don't hold hands through the entire meal. It doesn't mean that I'm any less of a woman or that I'm not fulfilling my role in the family.
Right now, in this season of life, this is the way it is. This is what's working best for us. Just because we eat away from home more often than not doesn't mean this is what will always work or what we'll always do. It's the season of life. This is reality- not the "perfection" I painted in my mind.
And now that I've embraced the reality, I can see the beauty of it. We're blessed to share a meal with 150 middle schoolers singing rowdy Bible songs on Saturday nights. Eating green beans out of a big pot while cuddling on the couch is actually kind of romantic!
And those special meals- the ones with the candlelight and the actual dining room table and laughter- those are made even more beautiful by the fact that they're not the norm in this season of life. And that's okay.