Here is an absolutely miserable truth about life: sometimes the hardest part of doing anything is just to get started.
For me, it’s the getting down to the business of just getting down to business that keeps me from accomplishing 90% of everything I want to do.
Don’t get me wrong. There are some activities that I need no encouragement to get started on. There are days when my creativity has me literally counting the minutes, nay, the seconds until I can get to my computer and start writing, or get behind my sewing machine and start refashioning.
Why I need to just get started
Unfortunately, not everything I need to do in life is as exciting as all that. Making dinner, with all respect to those who love to cook and those who love to eat, is something that I abhor doing. I hate it. Nothing can make me like doing this. There is a natural impetus to do it however: hunger. Hanger, actually, which is that not-so-easily diagnosed genetic condition my youngest and I both suffer from which begins just before we realize we are hungry and very quickly escalates into pull-down-the-walls-of-the-house rage.
Nothing can get accomplished in that state. So I have a little internal gauge that tells me, whether I am hungry or not, whether anyone else in the family is hungry or not, that by 11:45AM I better know what’s for lunch and by 5:30PM, I better start thinking about dinner.
Here is where I get into mini-conflicts with my husband, and I am sharing it here because I need to just get it off my chest: I hate cooking. I hate everything about cooking. I hate food in general. I don’t even particularly enjoy eating, although I binge-eat like a pro. I hate mealtimes. I hate sitting at a table with food in front of me. I do not have a healthy relationship with food. He knows this, but this has never been a reason for him to take on this chore.
So I do it. Because I know that hanger is real and really scary, I make sure that my people are fed before it happens and turns an otherwise pleasant day into a meltdown that sends everyone to their rooms in tears.
A conflict arose this weekend when I was out for the morning and the indulgent husband was at home with the scalawags. (He doesn’t read this blog, although he knows about it, and even if he did read it, I am not sure he would say anything. But just in case, Hi chéri! I bet you are thrilled that I am sharing this anecdote with the world. This is not representative of how I usually talk about you, I promise.)
I somehow, foolishly believed that because he was at home, he would make lunch, at least for him and the boys. Sometimes, most of the time, this happens.
But this weekend, I got home from an outing at 1:00PM. The boys were tearing around. My husband was talking about how hot it was. Something felt off. I was on the verge of hanger, which was that to which I ascribed my irritation with the situation: both the whirling dervishes and my husband complaining about the heat.
I noticed that there were no dishes in the sink, and I thought, “Wow. They sure did that fast! I wish I were that efficient!”
Then one of the boys bit the other. And I thought, “How strange. That’s usually something that happens before lunch.”
I commented on it, and then mentioned that they had been efficient with the dishes. Which then lead to the revelation: they had not yet eaten.
It was hot out. I had just walked six kilometers home from a singing engagement. All I wanted to do was change out of my sweaty clothes and take a nap. I was hungry, dehydrated and now, my husband was lying on the floor complaining about the weather and my boys were about to devour each other.
And I had to make lunch.
I started to panic. Like, real panic. By the point where the boys are biting each other, it’s too late to ask them what they want, but because I was panicking, I did it anyway. I got a half-answer from one. Then, my husband added, “no ham on my sandwich, please. Just cheese.”
And I BLEW MY TOP.
A need for change
I will never change my husband. He is indulgent with me in so many other ways, that this little thing, which for the space of an hour on Saturday caused me to go ballistic, is really quite a small thing.
But it highlighted that one thing that I have known for months: I need to get serious about making a meal plan and posting it somewhere in the house where it can be seen.
I hate cooking, I hate food. I hate talking about food. I hate thinking about food. But I need to figure out how to make this area of our family life function more smoothly because I seem to be the only one bothered by the way it works.
And if I have said it once, I have said it a thousand times: If something pisses me off, then I need to do something about it.
So, this little rock in my shoe is one that I need to deal with this summer.
The only thought that flitted into my mind was this: Last week we had a fruit salad that sticks with me as the most delicious thing I have ever put in my mouth. I was in love with the colors: The salmon color of the melon, the magenta of the watermelon, the red of the strawberries, the indigo of the blueberries. I loved how the tang of the not-very-sweet strawberries was met by the sweetness of the watermelon. I enjoyed the play of the textures. I finished off a huge container of this fruit salad for my lunch on Friday.
Then I started thinking about other things I have sort of enjoyed eating: Anything with rice and vegetables, where there are several different veggies in bright colors. Broccoli and carrots and red and yellow peppers and peas.
Huh. Maybe it’s not so much that I hate eating, it’s that I hate what I usually prepare to eat. I don’t love grilled cheese sandwiches and scrambled eggs and vegetable soup my boys ask for all the time.
Maybe I need to lean into the colorful foods thing, and maybe I could make a tiny bit of progress. If I can make it pretty, if I can make food art then maybe I won’t hate it so much anymore.
Oof, I hate it that I am even writing this down. This is really really really sandpapering some raw edges of my heart to admit that I need to work on this area. But here we go:
This summer, I will make a meal plan that includes one pretty, colorful meal per day. This summer, I will eat fruit salad every day. This summer I will stop being a short-order cook for my children and start having them eat what the grown-ups eat.
Also, this summer, I am going to try to deal with the deeper issues that cause me to feel so volatile about the subject of food. I need to dig around in my heart and figure out why I hate sitting down for a meal and why this is such an issue for me.
This summer, I will stop hating food.
Look what I had for breakfast!