As I was finishing up a conference call around 5:15 tonight, I could smell Andy making dinner downstairs and all I could think of was, “Pasta, AGAIN?”
While I was certainly happy that he was taking care of feeding everyone, the mere thought of eating another strand of spaghetti had me contemplating filling up on the Altoids in my purse instead. When I asked him why the carbo-loading of late, he looked at me quizzically and asked, “You ARE aware that we have almost no food in the house, aren’t you?”
And then it hit me. Between snow days for all three kids, multiple soccer practices, baseball pre-season, meetings and, oh yeah, our full time jobs (!?*), I seem to have forgotten the way to the grocery store.
Sound the alarm: the Shumways aren’t eating balanced meals. AGAIN.
Am I alone here? Lately I’ve found myself so busy that I’m lucky if Andy and I get to talk for more than two minutes much less gather the family around the dinner table for a meal consisting of meat, a vegetable, a starch, and five tall glasses of milk.
(Sidebar: I just pictured that very scene and almost started to laugh. Our darkened dining room, filled with a chatty family, good china and a hot dinner rather than a lonely table piled high with stuff that doesn’t fit anywhere else in the house? Stop the madness!)
While I love cooking and trying out new recipes, it’s really hard for busy parents with even busier kids to make that happen. I mean, if I can’t even get to the grocery store, well, there are only so many dinners you can make with a jar of pickles, Dijon mustard, eight eggs and a bunch of wilting kale.
(Actual items in the Shumway refrigerator at this very moment; no exaggeration here.)
There are times when I get a burst of organizational energy (and a quiet week with fewer meetings and sporting events) whereby I will break out recipes, make lists, perhaps even cut a coupon or two and hit the grocery store. As much as I am so proud of myself when I’m able to accomplish this, it seems to be a bit of a rarity.
When it DOES happen, usually the dinner is cooked and there are only two or three of us around to eat it while it’s hot; the other ones will scarf it down when they return from practice or meetings. It’s then that I get irritated and think, “did I really just kill myself to make Beef Bourguignon, just to have the kids pick through the vegetables and hoover the meat in less than 60 seconds?”
(Confession: Beef Bourguignon has never been prepared in the 11 years I’ve been a parent; extreme exaggeration on display here.)
At the end of the day, we busy parents do the best we can with whatever we have in the kitchen. Sometimes our families enjoy a dinner full of vitamins and protein and other times they’ll eat pasta for the fourth time in a week.
Either way, if a chicken nugget and carrot stick is all you have on hand, then serve it with gusto, toss an apple at your child and hug them on their way out the door. Vow to hit the grocery store and do better next time.
As for me, it’s another busy day tomorrow so there’s a good chance I’m serving spicy mustard and kale omelets with a side of pickles for dinner.
With a tall glass of milk. Obviously.