I slowly drag my feet from under the soft, billowy covers. Hurriedly, I pull socks on and stuff them into slippers before wrapping myself in a long sweater and heading out into the dark kitchen. Hmph, mornings.
I never was a morning person, preferring instead the dark, quiet hours that come after everyone else has turned in for the night. Yet here I am, slippered and standing on the cold linoleum of my kitchen before the sun rises. And the sun always rises.
From deep within the house I hear the shower running, and I dream of hot water briefly before filling a pot with water to boil and opening the refrigerator door, the yellow light casting its rays across the shadows of the kitchen. I load up my arms with eggs and bread and cucumbers and lettuce. My brow wrinkles as I consider the options, and as I’m standing there with the door hanging open, cooling the kitchen even more, small feet find their way to me. Rubbing his eyes, he barely acknowledges me before standing in front of my pile of food on the counter.
“Can you run out the garage and grab the container of leftover soup?” And then he’s out the door in search of food. Butter melts and eggs sizzle in the pan as another tumble-haired child emerges. I set them to work on toast and hand the eggs to another as I pour boiling water into thermal jars to ready them for soup. My son, temporarily relieved of his toast duty, is given the task of finding fruit for the four lunchboxes, and soon we’re all bumping shoulders in our small kitchen space.
I’m no stranger to sloth. There are mornings when I would much rather stay in bed a bit longer, most mornings, in fact. I sometimes struggle to get dinner on the table, cursing the mess I need to make and then clean in the process. I like greasy French fries dipped in mayonnaise and mustard with a healthy dose of pepper, after all. Still, I’ve read too many books, seen too many reported studies to know that the proper care of my kids and myself includes the feeding portion as much as it involves reading to them before bed, clothing them, tying tennis shoes and kissing skinned knees.
This is not about perfection, for life – especially life with kids – is messy and chaotic. There are spills and tears and days where I say yes to ice cream before dinner. We should all eat ice cream before dinner sometimes. It’s not about food avoidance, but balance. It is about learning to appreciate what’s available, about trying new flavors. It’s about educating and then eating together as a family.
I made the choice to prioritize how I feed my children. I view it as just as essential, if not more so, than all the other things I do for them. I make them a part of it, showing them how to crack eggs and make bread, letting them help with the grocery shopping and the meal planning. It’s not always easy. It’s never perfect. It’s rarely glamorous. But it is rewarding, and the benefits never cease to continue.
As I share food with my family and friends, I hope that I can expand my reach and share it with you, too. In 2009 I started Food for My Family eager to inspire other parents like me with worries and frets and hopes and dreams and way too much on their proverbial plate to make food a priority in their daily life. Five years later, not much has changed. I still wake up and show up at work to talk about food. I am now the author of a cookbook, Desserts in Jars, with more in the works, and I contribute to other media outlets to try and reach as many people as possible. I am thrilled to have the opportunity with eHow to set a place at my table for you. Thank you for coming!
All photos courtesy of Shaina Olmanson