Candy blogs: Are you a hurried, harried working mom? My heart goes out to you. I was one for 22 years. I recognize the weary look in your eyes. I remember that deep sigh as you were about to walk in the door from work. “Buck up,” you tell yourself. “No relaxing for you yet.” Since I can’t talk about EVERY relevant topic for working moms, I’ll choose one thing I am especially concerned about. And I wish I had you sitting in my living room or at my kitchen table, coffee in hand, relating lovingly face to face, eye to eye.
When my kids were growing up, I began to notice that most of their friends’ moms didn’t cook much at home. When they came home from spending time in other homes, my kids would tell me the kinds of foods they ate while they were there: frozen pizza, meal in a box, dumped from a can or heated in the microwave. There was even one time when my daughter went looking for ingredients to make a meal for her and her friend at the friend’s house and literally couldn’t find enough items to put a simple meal together.
This means as mothers we aren’t teaching our children how to shop for groceries or how to prepare and cook real food. What we ARE teaching them is that convenience trumps value. It’s more convenient to eat out or grab something pre-packaged from the freezer or pantry than prepare a real meal or snack. Of course, convenience foods have their place but not on a regular basis.
As a working mom I often saw cooking as a horrible chore, as something that had to be done and was keeping me from doing something I wanted to do. I don’t love to cook. But overall, I did know that preparing a meal for my husband and family made them feel love and comfort. Eating at home as a family has more benefits than just love and comfort however: you know where they are, you know what they’re eating, you have opportunity for conversation and debriefing about the day, the busy pace slows for this time together, you can share traditions and look into each others’ faces. Sharing a meal is sharing life together.
She is like the merchant ships, bringing her food from afar. She gets up while it is still dark; she provides food for her family and portions for her servant girls. Prov. 31:14-15
I can hear you now. If you feel you don’t have time to cook, or, like me, don’t like to cook, get comfortable with some basic recipes and rotate them. It doesn’t have to be fancy to be enjoyed. Get good at 10 or 12 recipes that your family enjoys and rotate them. You can also always have the ingredients for those recipes on hand.
Do you know the cooking basics? Sear/fry, roast, bake, crumble, beat, fold, rue, steam, etc.? I’m no expert but I do have a command of the cooking basics and that has been quite good enough. If you weren’t taught the basics of cooking, go online, watch some cooking shows, ask a good cook whom you admire to share some teaching time with you, take a community cooking class, cook with friends, experiment. Try doubling recipes and freezing one batch for later. It’s not rocket science but it pays big dividends.
Some who will read this will be chuckling to themselves. Candy? Writing a blog post about the benefits of cooking?! It IS laughable. But I did cook at home most of the time when we were raising our kids. And my daughter has a knowledge of the cooking basics. I did go through a period of years at the beginning of our empty nest where I thought I deserved to take a break from cooking. Perhaps I did. But it came at a very high price. We spent hundreds of dollars every month on eating out when we could have been getting out of debt faster and building toward our future.
And don’t forget the value of teaching your children to work in the kitchen as well. Kids should be involved in the whole process of menu selection, grocery shopping, meal preparation, setting and clearing the table, washing dishes, tidying the kitchen, sweeping the floor and emptying the garbage. It doesn’t have to be all you. Are you a control freak? Does everything have to be done a certain way, to the point that you can’t allow others to help you? Get over yourself. So what if you can do it better and faster? It’s not about you. It’s about teaching and training your children to be functioning, contributing members of their own families someday. They should be able to take care of themselves when they leave your home. Are you raising demanding princes and princesses? We see them everywhere. There are entire TV shows about them.
Yes, there will be more dishes to do, more shopping to do, more messes to clean up. But there will also be easier weight management, a healthier family, you’ll save money, you will treasure a sense of well being, and you’ll actually be sharing life with the ones you love most instead of just surviving each day. Every day matters, girls. A lifetime is just an accumulation of individual days.
So what’s for dinner?
Into this messy life of mine, I invite Him in, asking Him to shine through the chaos. Ann Voskamp, A Holy Experience