Wednesday, August 18, 2010

The Dinner Flow

Monday night, I had planned one of Teagan's favorite meals to celebrate her first day of Kindergarten. My kids hate spaghetti. Yes, it's really weird. Teagan won't touch spaghetti, Zach kind of tolerates it. However, they eat lasagna and they eat ravioli. Jeff and I enjoy spaghetti- however, his acid reflux can prevent him from enjoying tomato sauce so he has to limit pasta dishes and pizza sometimes. I have to admit that I haven't been cooking dinner lately. A good week for cooking means I've actually made dinner once a week- and then I'm doing really easy and fast meals. There are a lot of reasons for this. I hate heating up my kitchen when the house is warm from the hot sun. I prefer to have my time at home be spent with my family instead of me stuck in the kitchen. But the biggest reason is that I cook to please people and when my cooking doesn't please anyone, I stop doing it. It's my own personal hang up, I know. But there is something so special about making something that you know you make really well and that you know is a favorite dish of someone you love and you know that making this special, yummy dish is a sign of love and affection towards that person. It's a way of making them feel special, of showing them that they matter to you. I have a lot of memories of food made especially for me or seeing food be prepared lovingly specifically for someone. My Grandma did it (strawberry bavarian cream, shrimp cocktail, 7-Up, split pea soup) and my Mom does it (Ryan's potatoes, Jeff's angel food cake, Martha's cheesecake)- and I do it, too. Cooking is more than just the preparation of nourishment for our bodies. Cooking a meal is a chosen act of love and caring for the people in my family. When that act of love is met with "But I don't like ____" and "it's ok" and "well, there's nothing wrong with it" and "can I just have ____ instead," well, there isn't much drive to continue on that path. I've lost the drive. Monday night, I had planned an Italian dinner. Ravioli for the kids (the cheese filled kind from the refrigerated section- I won't do the canned stuff) and spaghetti for me and Jeff- with freshly grated romano cheese. I had bread from Scholar's Inn- a special Italian style. I was going to make garlic bread and even a special artichoke-parm spread toasted bread for me. Bad sign #1 Jeff's acid reflux had a big flare up so no tomato sauce for him. Bad sign #2 Upon pick up from school, both kids immediately turned their noses up to the idea of ravioli. Bad sign #3 The bread was moldy. Very moldy. So my big Italian dinner plan was done. Not going to happen. Part of me wanted to make the whole big dinner anyway. But I would have just been setting up the family for upset tummies and fights and I'd only end up frustrated and disappointed. So we ended up going home and everyone just ate what they wanted. I still made ravioli for Teagan. She didn't want tomato sauce so I drizzled on some lemon pepper olive oil instead. She helped me grate the romano on top. And then she refused to eat it. So she had watermelon and blueberries for dinner instead. Zach had yogurt, applesauce, and 2 slices of Hormel natural salami and a Trader Joe's blueberry cereal bar. Jeff had leftovers from Texas Roadhouse- steak, green beans, mashed potatoes. I had lemon pepper linguini from the Broad Ripple Farmer's Market. I drizzled with lemon pepper oil and added capers and romano. And everyone was content with their meal. Maybe that's the thing that really matters. We all ate together and each person was satisfied with the food they consumed. I'm proud of myself for being able to go with the flow- the dinner flow. I didn't need to be best or right or have things go my way. I made food for myself that I enjoyed. I prepared food for my family that they enjoyed. We kept our choices healthy. We sat together and ate our food and enjoyed the company as we decompressed from our day. And those are the things that really matter. Photobucket


Erin said...

I love this post! This is something that I struggle with on a regular basis. What can I make that we all can enjoy? Maybe I need to let go more and just "go with the flow." Thank you for the important reminder!

Stopping by from PYHO.

Shell said...

I do get disappointed sometimes when my meals aren't met with enthusiasm. But, I usually do just go ahead and make what I had planned. It's a budget thing, mostly.

Momza said...

My favorite meals are ones I don't cook! LOL
Having said that, tho, I make dinner 350 nights out of 365 a year.
Because it's less expensive than going out with a big family, it's healthier, the kids learn how to cook, how to clean, how to show gratitude for my time and effort.
And for those hot kitchen days, we grill the meat outside, and have the kids make a salad.
However, when my kids are gone, I have a secret wish to try every single frozen dinner in the frozen food aisle by my self! lol
Funny story:
I bought organic cereal over the weekend, and Boofus tells me he'll not eat it because it's too healthy. Then last night I made bow-tie pasta and marinara sauce--I asked him how it tasted--"Thumbs up, Momza!" Then I said, "It's all organic." To which he responded by grabbing his throat and pretending to gag and die. At the dinner table.

Tina L. Hook said...

My family loved me with food and I understand what you mean. I am also deflated if my food is not met with the same enthusiasm I had when making it.

If your current strategy is working then roll with it. Sounds like you are all happy, healthy and enjoying one another.

Tina L. Hook said...

PS stopping by from pour your heart out.

Lola said...

I'm sure it's no surprise when I say "Yeah, me too!" about cooking for others. I often feel like the elderly piano student of Adam Sandler in Wedding Singer who says (about the meatballs) "take a bite so I can watch you enjoy it". I love to hear Ashley say "this is really good, Mom" or the silence at the table because everyone is eating it all up.

I have also learned that some days I have to go with the flow- and watch cues. I won't force Ash (the baby isn't eating table food yet) to eat all of what's on her plate as long as she's tried it all. If she's genuinely not hungry, I won't force the issue. If she genuinely doesn't like it- I will offer a PBJ sammy or cereal. Luckily, I've been blessed with a rather un-picky child. Her fave is my spicey black bean soup....go figure.

designHER Momma said...

it's funny. I often feel like a failure of a wife and mother, but I try to make up for it in the kitchen. Isn't that weird?

I make dinner probably 5 times a week, and the other 2 nights we eat leftovers of whatever I've made.

I guess cooking and baking is my Love Language, and we all have our own.

You are a good mom. Your family is fed, they are happy. It's all that matters.

Tracy said...

Instead of being "stuck in the kitchen" you can enjoy family time AND cook. Your kids are old enough to be given small tasks to help make dinner. Zack could rip up salad greens, wash other veggies, put napkins and placemats on the table, etc, Teagan could (with supervision from Dad or Mom) chop of vegetables with a knife, help measure, stir and mix things, make a beautiful decoration for the middle of the table, etc.

Keep your meals simple, easy and fresh and with the kids helping they are far more likely to actually eat it.

Not saying that going with the flow occasionally is a bad thing. But I've found that cooking with my 2 and 4 year old participating (with REAL work, not pretend or busy work) has made a huge difference in the attitude in the house before, during and after dinner.

jensays (what would jen do) said...

what a night, and i cannot believe that your kids don't like spaghetti!!

sometimes the best dinners are when everyone gets what they want.

kbiermom said...

My kids don't like spaghetti, either -- I thought it was just us ;)

And I am totally with you on losing motivation for cooking when the meal is poorly received. Yes, my kids are aware that it's bad manners. And my efforts at including them in food choices and prep have been halfway, at best -- for many reasons. Could it be that no matter what I do in the kitchen my kids are simply not foodies?

Glad to know that I'm not alone in this struggle, anyway :)

Unknown said...

This has been selected one of my great posts of the week. Here is the link:

Sharon Cohen said...

This post got just a little too close for comfort. I read it for the PYHO blog hop and I'm back for Saturday Sampling. I can't ignore the fact that this struck a cord for me. I didn't know I was so uptight about the "right way" to do dinner. It really isn't the "right way" - it is "my way". I need to loosen up. I really do. Thanks Liz - for teaching me about going with the flow - the dinner flow.

Emily said...

This struck a chord with me too. I never liked to cook and when I became disabled, it is now torture. Still I do it to provide my family with healthy meals and of course, it's cheaper.

Maybe I need to find some decent microwavable meals and give myself a break.

Kristin - The Goat said...

I sometimes wonder if the reason why I didn't have children is because I was afraid of having to feed them each night. That task seems so daunting. It's hard enough to make something that my husband likes. I'm so proud of you for going with the flow. You gave yourself and your family a gift :)

Kristin - The Goat

Mrs4444 said...

You're absolutely right; it's just food. It's the company that makes it a family meal.

That said, my biggest pet peeve is when I go to the trouble to make any meal and people don't get to the table in a timely manner. It's an act of appreciation to get there when I say it's ready. Thankfully, my family appreciates the effort and shows it, almost always :)