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....