Gotta Do, Gotta Do

Sometimes… you’ve gotta do what you gotta do.

I remember the moment clearly.  I was sitting at our kitchen table.  Five kids nearby. Homeschool done for the day.  One by one, each was wanting something.  Usually, at this time of day, something to eat.  Cookies, homemade, disappeared.  Homemade bread, disappeared.  Dishes, dirty, didn’t disappear.  Lunch was over and dinner was soon to come.  Lots of mouths to feed and dishes to wash and meals to plan.

“Lord, I give and give and they take and take.  No one is asking me what I would like to have or to eat or to do this afternoon.”

And the Lord said, “You’re a mom.  What do you expect?”

Obviously, I needed to adjust my expectations… and my attitude… and my approach.

I decided that day, sitting at my kitchen table, that I would learn to enjoy meal preparation.  It would even be like a hobby for me.  It would be fun; a creative outlet.

And, I did.  I started planning meals and researching nutrition and collecting recipes.  I got our children involved in meal prep and taught them to cook and bake.  Each child chose a meal that they learned to prepare for the family.  One son chose homemade bread, scrambled eggs and peas.  His comment the evening he served his meal to the family was, “It is hard to get everything to come out ready to eat at the same time.”  It was a good meal.  And they were learning to appreciate the effort.

I went through phases of meal planning and preparation.  One year, I decided I wouldn’t repeat any menu/recipe.  The next year, my husband asked if we could please have spaghetti more often than once a year.  We had “theme meals,” an idea from “More with Less” cookbook.  One was homemade bread with various spreads and/or soup.  Once, I think we even had a homemade ice cream meal.

Another year, I got the “Once a Month Cooking” book and after following the menus and recipes pretty much verbatim, created my own recipes and organization for months following.  I got the foil lining of 13×9 pans and casserole dishes down to an art.  I could get a month’s worth of food for a family of seven and anticipated guests into our freezer in two days’ time.  It felt good to accomplish that task and it freed up daily meal prep time for other interests.

And… we gardened, canned, and froze produce.  Canning recipes was fun: Spaghetti sauces, tomatoes-zucchini, apple pie filling, peaches. We bought wheat from a farmer in Kansas and ground it fresh to bake bread.  I think I took this approach because I am task-oriented.  I like a challenge.  I like meeting a challenge.  And, I don’t like to be bored.  And just like that, meal preparation became fun.

These days, with no kids at home and fighting to stay thin and healthy, food is much simpler.  It is still fun to try new recipes and create new dishes and try new foods.  My Husband, Dave, makes frequent trips to Mexico to pursue his interest in running. These trips have provided new information and new ingredients to our meal preparation.

What was once a burdensome chore has become something that is precious to me and to my family. I don’t miss the quarter-acre garden or the water bath canning or the pressure cooking.  I don’t really miss the extra freezer and the full trunk of groceries.  But, I do treasure the time spent in the kitchen, learning to be a joyful provider of nourishment for my family.  I am glad my kids know how to bake bread and that they have dishes they request when they come home.  I like it that they don’t like anyone else’s potato salad, they ask for homemade turkey and noodles, and they know I will throw a pie together at the slightest hint.

We all have things that we HAVE to do. If you’ve gotta do it, how are you going to change your approach to actually enjoy it?