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Care

07.13.2016 / FAMILY

Confession: I have not been living well as of late.

Second confession: I have a plan. (FYI: There’s a discount involved in this plan, of which you can absolutely skip to the end of this post for, no offense taken. You know how I get to rambling over here…)

Here’s the thing.

In past lives, when I began to stop living well, I’d go through great measures to ask myself – generally high-pitched, generally twitchy – Whyyyyy?! Why am I not taking good care of myself? Why is my calendar so full? Why am I so unhappy this morning?

How did I get here?

But I’ve grown up (a bit) and I know enough (a bit) to realize the how matters not. Or the why.

What does? What does.

Here we are, then. What will I do about it?

It’s the life of an extremist, I suppose. A blessing and a curse. I am either self-controlled, tidy, organized, orderly, healthy and wise, or I am not. I am full of grace, patience, kindness, love, and then I have just as quickly lost the ship and am chucking ballet shoes at a toddler as I rage dial for take-out. Zero or sixty.

Zero to sixty.

So here’s what.

Another day. Beginning anew. Shifting a small habit. Starting afresh. Trying again, failing apart, trying again and again and again.

Last week, I indulged in a hammock nap that nearly healed the entire depths of my soul. This morning, Play-Doh with Bee. Tonight, I will cook a full, complete meal for the first time in weeks.

Care. I’m taking it.

As it stands, I’ve fallen into a cooking rut of canyon proportions and it’s taken me near-forever to crawl out of it. This happens with me often; a borrowed cookbook will spur dozens of inspired meals that I will repeat-repeat-repeat, that I will fixate on, that I will all-but-master(!!!) until Ken and Bee both look at me, hints of tiny exhaustion in their eyes: We love you, but please, Mom (please, dear) no more Brussels sprouts.

So, I’ve agreed: no more Brussels sprouts.
(For now.)

Last month, we’re on a family vacation. I’m in the kitchen with my sister-in-law crumbling cotija cheese while Ken dices red onions for my famed (description mine) Mexican street corn salad.

And my sister-in-law asks us both – sunburned shoulders and all – if I’d ever ever tried the chef-designed delivery service Blue Apron, where every single meal takes less than 40 minutes to craft.

I tell her I’d heard of it, yeah, but I’d never tried it, because surely I didn’t need a service that delivered the ingredients and recipes right to my door? Surely I could just get creative with my pantry staples? Surely I’m not that boring in the kitchen?

Surely. Right Ken?

But sweet Ken had left his red onion chopping station quicker than a flash – please dear, no more Brussels sprouts – and I know enough to know enough is enough.

Here we are, then. What will I do about it?

And so, later that night while the world sleeps, it is me, typing in my zip code, choosing a farm-fresh menu, hitting “Send.” Two weeks later, a happy mailman delivers a refrigerated box to my door.

Three dinners, fresh for the cooking.

With the ingredients all prepped and portioned, I have little to do but pour a glass of Chardonnay and preheat the oven. Bee wants to help, and although I’m prone to shooing her out of the kitchen, tonight feels different. The work is finished, yes? I need only follow my recipe: Fried Chicken & Kale Slaw with Roasted Sweet Potato Wedges.

I wash the produce; Bee dries. I cut the potatoes while Bee mixes honey and red pepper flakes, and with that, we’re off to the races. As the oven roasts our wedges, as we massage the kale, as we combine our slaw, as I bread the chicken, as we hear it pop and simmer and Bee shrieks with delight and the kitchen begins to smell as divine as my grandfather’s farmhouse and I look over my shoulder to see Ken peering around the corner with excitement, with curiosity, with love and gratitude and immense joy, I think:

The how really doesn’t matter, does it?

We plate our food and I turn down our music. Bee calls Ken for dinner, and I can’t help but bring out the cloth napkins, the golden flatware. It’s only Monday; this is no special occasion. This is no cause for celebration, this everyday dinner, this family meal, but then again, this is very much cause for celebration.

Care. I’m taking it.

We hold hands and say prayers and pass around the hot honey and I refill our water glasses and Bee begins to tell tales of her imaginary friend Walter and after a few bites of the fried chicken, the kale slaw, those incredible roasted sweet potato wedges, we pause.

This is the best, isn’t it? we ask.
This is the best, we say.

It’s been two weeks since we gathered for our special occasion non-occasion meal, since we drizzled every last ounce of that hot honey and licked our lips, since we devoured the leftovers for a midnight snack. We’ve cooked and eaten the rest of our Blue Apron delivery – seared cod and potato salad, enchiladas suizas with summer squash. We’ve dined with golden flatware three nights this week, with cloth napkins ever since.

Another day. Beginning anew. Shifting a small habit. Starting afresh. Trying again.

We’ve built a momentum on hot honey and a pause.
We’re back to living well.

There will be more ruts, more bad moods, more funks I can’t seem to shake. Sometimes a meal delivery service will pull me out of them. (For the rest of the times, there’s a cookbook.)

And for the rest of the times after that?

I suppose those will be the days when I’m forced to surrender, when I’ll recognize my furrowed brow, my jilting tone, my short fuse and I’ll say to myself:

Here we are, then. What will I do about it?

I will mark a date on the calendar, a special occasion non-occasion meal, and I will wash the produce and Bee will dry, and I’ll set out the golden flatware, and we will take care – of our bodies, of our souls, of each other.

We will hold hands and say prayers and pass around the hot honey and I will refill our water glasses and Bee will begin to tell tales of her imaginary friend Walter and after a few bites of the fried chicken, the kale slaw, those incredible roasted sweet potato wedges, we will pause.

This is the best, isn’t it? we will ask.
This is the best, we will say.

 

p.s. This essay was written for Blue Apron, one of my favorite healthy food delivery services. You can try it here (with no commitment), and the first 25 of you get THREE FREE MEALS on your first order!  Happy cooking!

  • Michelle

    THANK YOU for this. For all of your posts. I have fallen into a colossal canyon and have been (s)lacking (on) care as well. I constantly battle between thinking I should be harder on myself, more disciplined, to thinking I should just ride it out and wait for the next inspiration. Zero to sixty. Thankful for your words. They give me a good laugh and truly help me make sense of my own life. Cheers!

    • oh michelle, you’re so kind. i have that same battle going on in my own mind, and i so appreciate that i’m not alone in it! big hugs your way.

  • jana

    I just finished making and eating my blue apron meal, browned butter gnocchi! It really does make me feel like i’m taking good care of myself and my kids. And you need that…I so need that. I’m happy you’re enjoying them as well! I think we had that fried chicken and sweet potato one last week:) So good!

    • omg browned butter gnocchi sounds INCREDIBLE!!!!!! i’m right there with you. :)

  • Anonymous

    I completely relate! I’ve been thinking of trying Blue Apron. Maybe I’ll finally do it! (we ate pancakes for dinner at our house tonight..)

    • Ha, pancakes ALL THE TIME when I grew up. I secretly loved it. ;)

      And yes, let me know how you like Blue Apron. It arrived at the perfect time in these parts! :)

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