Words (of wisdom?) on a Wednesday

When I was still in my PhD program, I was the queen of convenience foods.  My freezer was always stocked with pizzas, pastas, frozen dinners, and other such goodies from Trader Joe’s that made actually thinking about meals ahead of time obsolete.  I was in school full time, teaching introductory French classes on top of that, oh and trying to maintain a relationship with Jake (who made the boyfriend/fiancé/husband transition during that time) who was rarely home during the week.  Actually giving serious thought to feeding myself was way more than I could handle, and this was LONG before Gemma came along.

What it has taken me a very long time to realize is that all it takes to get delicious and nutritious food on the table is just a little bit of forethought.  I know that there are people who plan their meals for the entire week…I am SO not one of those people.  Since Jake is never home for meals during the week, I don’t have to worry about producing a full dinner every night (and like I would anyway…man…I’m the worst stay at home mom ever!), and I honestly never know exactly what I’m going to feel like eating until that day.  I do, however, do my best to make sure that I have staples in the cupboards and the fridge that will allow me to whip something up without too much thought or effort.  Ingredients for soups, salads, slow cooker meals, pasta, frozen veggies, cheese…the basics.

I have gotten SO much better at “making” meals as opposed to reheating them from a package, but I do have a “bad mom” confession to make here:  I do not sit down and eat meals with Gemma.  Everyone has to know where to draw the/their line, and that’s where I’ve had to draw mine.  I am by myself pretty much all day long five days a week, and the last thing I want to do at 5:30 pm is wrestle with my toddler (who is actually a very good eater, but still…) while I am trying to eat my own dinner.  This way I can concentrate on her and her needs in the moment, as well as concentrate on my own long after she has gone to bed.  I know that this will change as she gets older, but for now it seems to be working.

I guess what I’m trying to say about both food and parenting that I’ve finally figured out after almost 20 months on this gig is that it’s all about knowing your limitations and working from there.  If you aren’t super comfortable in the kitchen, don’t set yourself up for failure and frustration by choosing a ridiculously difficult recipe.  Don’t set yourself up for parenting “failure” by setting unreasonable expectations for yourself and your family.  I am a good mom, but I am far from perfect…and that’s OK.  I am doing the best that I can every. single. day.  When it comes to my eating habits (and my life with Gemma), some days are better than others, but every morning I try to remember to hit the restart button (rather than resume) and give it all another try.

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17 responses to this post.

  1. What a wonderful post! I feel like I could have written this myself. We don’t eat dinner with Ben either and I know that’s typically frowned upon, but it just works for us. I absolutely love that moment once he’s asleep when I can sit down to a glass of wine and dinner — an actual meal without a toddler flinging food at me or whining for more. I think this makes us good moms because we know that we need “mom time”, not just “mom and baby” time.

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  2. Thank you! I just really needed to hear that! Even when Jake is home we feed her long before we eat…I feel like we get mini-at home date nights that way rather than a three ring circus!

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  3. Oh absolutely. I’ve had the same guilty feelings about this too, but there’s just no way I can handle making dinner for Ben AND for us, since he typically eats something different most of the time (still getting used to “real” food and all that). Usually Steve and I take turns — one person puts B to bed while the other makes dinner, or vice versa. That way, once B is asleep, we have a nice meal waiting (or just pizza, take-out, etc.) and we can actually relax together.

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  4. Great post! It’s all about what works for you. Staying home with a toddler is so stressful that if eating dinner alone makes it easier for you, then by all means, eat dinner alone! I know that by the end of the day all I want to do is sit on the couch.

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    • Thanks Cate! Some days eating dinner by myself after I’ve put her to bed is about all I’ve got going for me! I’ve really learned to enjoy food this way, rather than treating it like a necessary evil.

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  5. Posted by celine perreard-allen on March 23, 2011 at 6:04 pm

    Stef,
    very well done. We have been trying to sit down and eat with Zoé when she eats dinner, usually around 6 p.m but if it is earlier, I plainly refuse to sit down and trying to gobble down some food while the sun is still up…in Winter!
    I do put her right at the table and sit next to her every time and go back and forth in the kitchen to cater to what she needs.
    You are doing a wonderful job with GemGem and I only come to realize how hard it is when I am by myself with my own little monster for a full week, not even long days and evenings like you. The fact that she eats so well is a tribute to your hard work during meal times.
    I am so glad that you put food as a top priority for your little family, because it is what brings people together, feeds us, sustains us, keeps us sane and makes us who were are three times a day! what else do you do three times a day?

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    • Tu me fais rougir mon amie! I only do what I can do. Some days feel like big successes, but others like horrible failures…I have no option but to keep going! I seriously cannot wait to introduce her to the food in France and Italy…so spoiled at such a young age!!

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  6. I love this post!

    When C was starting to eat more “meals” I tried to have him in the high chair and our dinner on the table and we all had our family dinner together … and that last for 1 week. It was a miserable fail every night. And my hubs and did not enjoy dinner at all. Now, C has his dinner, bed, bath routine. And when he’s asleep, the hubs and I enjoy a relaxing dinner together.

    This will change, and C will have dinner with us as a little family someday, and I look forward to that, but I’m not going to rush it and make meal time stressful for all of us. Right now, this works best.

    I think you’re doing it the right way 🙂
    xxoo

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  7. OMG so many typos above! Obviously he has a bath before bed, and other little typos I can and won’t point out. Unless it doesn’t make sense … let me know. Argh, it’s been a long day!

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    • Maegan…I am a mom…of course that all made sense, typos and all! 🙂 It just makes me feel good to know that there are other people that are doing it the same way I am!

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  8. Brilliant! We eat dinner with C (2 1/2) and sometimes I’d love to eat by myself. But that would mean eating at about 9 pm (bed time is a bit of a nightmare) so not going to work. But I totally get what you’re saying!

    Thanks for linking up for Fledgling Friday!

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  9. Thanks again for Fledgling Friday Robin! Occasionally it does (depending on her temperament or whatever is going on) mean that I/we eat at 8:30 or 9pm, but that’s why I’ve been trying to put together this arsenal of quick, easy, or slow cooker meals. I’m still learning how to get all of us taken care of!

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  10. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve made Blake’s dinner, sat and watched him eat it, then get him in the bath and bed before eating my own dinner. Sometimes I tell my husband that he has to fend for himself because I’m just so exhausted! Thank goodness for Trader Joe’s and Fresh and Easy, right?!

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    • SO true! I sometimes feel lucky that my husband doesn’t get home until god-awful hours of the night, because he can’t always wait until she’s down to eat, and the chaos that ensues is just more than I can handle!!

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  11. Yeah, we also gave up eating all together ~ we feed her and sit with her, and then we eat our meal after she goes to bed. It’s not ideal, but for not it’s at least some quiet time with Scott like the old days…y’know?

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  12. (by the way, I love that…restart, rather than resume. very wise.) 🙂

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  13. I hear you Morgan! We need to grasp at “normalcy” however it comes (and whatever it happens to be for each of us)!

    Reply

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