It is nearing dinner. After piano lessons, we go home; hopefully to be there by 4:45, and then I will have to answer another one of those grand illuminated questions of life, “ What is for dinner?”
When I think about how much mental space is consumed with this question every single day I think, “Gosh imagine the empires conquered, the great art that could have been made, the good works done, if I did not have to think about this Every. Single. Day.”
There was a time, not very long ago, when what was prepared for dinner was an important part of my identity. I was a stay at home mom. I cleaned the house, got the kids where they needed to go and I cooked a healthy, wholesome, from scratch dinner; sometimes all grown on our own land or locally sourced, nearly every night. If I didn't cook the meal, I still had a plan.
There would pots of stew, new recipes to try. I would give myself cooking challenges to see just how local I could go. How many things can one make from a rutabaga? I would can nettle juice for rennet for making cheese. I would drink teas from red clover picked over weeks during the summer and dehydrated. This seems like leisure to me now.
Planning is ultimately important to this new way of living. But compromises have had to be made. There is just not enough time to cook every meal, every night of the week. Some nights I am athe only one home, some nights I am not home at all. I confess to boxed macaroni and cheese ( the healthiest kind I can find, but, well you know , it comes from a box)But, despite this, some nights the guys and I can enjoy a good meal.
These meals take on extra meaning now. They are nearly sacred. I find myself resistant to accepting invitations, add more outside work and more kids' extra curriculars so that we can have these 2 , sometimes 3, meals a week. They are meals where I approach the task of cooking with calm. There is no harried prep of food for the sake of sustenance but an actual event with thought and intention. There is grace and candlelight. There is communion together around the table.
And then there is the multi-tasking I can take care of when I am cooking the meal. Inevitably making these meals gives me a boost of energy to prepare for busier times, warm the home with something baked or, these days, put something in the canner for winter. Maybe I can whip up a batch of granola or get some bread started. If I double the recipe I can have the left overs for a meal after a long day. I am well aware of the strategies to keep the good food coming even when the energy isn't there to cook it.
In the end , as with everything, it comes down to balance. Somedays that balance leans towards expediency and necessisty. Somedays it leans towards nourishment of our bodies and our souls.