Friday, January 20, 2012

A Lesson Long-Awaited

Growing up, we always had the option of using whole wheat; it was just part of our food storage. It took a little work with our old fashioned hand mill, but I never considered its value beyond that.
After getting married and starting a family, I began to feel like wheat flour was a luxury. I never bought it because it was expensive, and I was afraid it would go bad before I had used it all. I never bought the wheat berries because I never had something to grind the wheat with. I'm sure I had friends who could have helped, but the idea of wheat just loomed in front of me like some inaccessible wealthiness I'd have to keep waiting for.

I got my Blendtec blender just over a week ago, and I've used it every day without exception. The most exciting thing I've used it for? Grinding wheat. I bought an enormous bucket yesterday and easily spent an hour with my cookbooks, planning out new recipes to try with wheat.
So this morning? I made whole wheat pancakes. Ground the wheat right with the ingredients. Well worth the trouble it took to pry the lid off my wheat bucket (I'll just say it was excruciatingly hard and took the length of Michael's shower). My fingers still hurt.

I feel like such a good wife and mommy...I fed my family wheat! I have been making them green smoothies! I have been making dinner every night for two weeks (minus two nights we ate out, but that was planned). I still haven't used (or found) flax seed or agave nectar or metjool dates (erm, no thanks), but we eat quite well. And I feel so happy to be providing for my family in that way.

It was never as obvious before, but I've noticed: we are all happier. Ender doesn't have tantrums anymore, besides the occasional struggle when he's emotional because it's bedtime and he's SO ready (and SO doesn't want it). Scarlett hasn't seemed frustrated at all with our nursing, which could have been from teething except that I'm convinced her teething is worse than ever right now-- and our nursing is going as well as it ever has. I haven't had to worry about my milk supply even while I've been sick, tired in the extreme, or suffering through a monster period. To me, that's a huge deal. I'm pretty sure Michael has felt better, too. :) He's always wonderful.

So, another thing to admit? I feel like it has taken me the nearly 5 years we've been married to really figure out daily dinner.
Oh, I feel sheepish.
There are unmarried girls who seem to have the hang of it already, and some married women who are extremely dedicated in making meals when it's all for them and their husband-- no kids to feed yet! I went through spells where I managed to make it happen for a week, and then I fell off my menu plan and got stuck again with last-minute, late dinners made of...stuff.
And I always let myself feel bad for it. I wanted to hide the fact that I wasn't good at it. I insisted that I was a good cook---when I cooked. I never really mentioned it except in passing, as an off-the-hand, laughable thing. I was pretty embarrassed. Because it meant so much to me.
There are probably a number of things that came together for me to feel the change going on. And I want to share them, because they're applicable to anyone who has ever felt the way I did, I think.

  1. Your worth is not tied to your baking. Yes, I feel good when I make meals for my family--I feel REALLY good. But I should not beat myself up if I don't make meals for my family.
    I figured this out watching The Blind Side. It struck me both as funny and sweet that the wealthy mother never cooked homemade meals. The movie is wonderful for so many reasons, and it stuck with me for a long time. That little detail about the mom just swam around in my head until I finally got it. She was a good mother, even though she never made homemade meals. And I think that even our society (as in, along with the culture of the Church) shoves it into our heads that homemade means you care. Once I realized what is possibly very obvious for everyone else, that you can be an excellent mother without ever learning to cook, I felt less pressure.
  2. Dinner can be easy--I mean really, dinner doesn't have to be exciting. You don't have to have a lot of side dishes (or any, some nights). As long as it's food, call it dinner. The idea is developing the habit of mealtime. So even if it's one of those embarrassing assortments of whatever was hidden in the back of the fridge when you've needed to go grocery shopping for a long time, the meal is happening. Who cares what the meal is.
    I probably learned this more completely when we lived with Michael's family. When dinnertime came, people had to eat. So even if things had been chaotic that day, Michael's mom stopped wondering about dinner and just threw it together. Sometimes we had grilled cheese sandwiches, sometimes breakfast-for-dinner. It didn't matter. And before living with the family, I had always thought Michael's mom made Sunday Dinner every night.
    I do wish I had been more helpful. At the same time, I wasn't the same back then-- "dinner" was still daunting to me, and the idea of making dinner for a large family (not to mention my HUSBAND's family) made me feel really nervous. I
    tried to fight that, and even though I didn't come around all the way, I learned a lot.
  3. It helps to make a comprehensive plan that extends over a week or more, but even if you don't do that, think about dinner in the morning. Perhaps while you shower or make breakfast or do dishes. Try to at least have dinner decided before the middle of the day. Sometimes, if I feel like I won't be able to make up my mind, I decide on a back-up dinner (something boring but easy that I KNOW I can do), and then the stress of a deadline is gone so I can feel at ease while I wonder what I'd really like to make for dinner.
    I learned that recently while using a menu plan. I woke up thinking "today we'll be having soup!" I felt excited about it. Then, on days that I didn't really want to do whatever was on the menu, I knew early on in the day, so changing it wasn't a big deal. One more thing: if I wasn't excited about dinner but never thought of a different meal, I made what was on the menu anyway. THAT was helpful, too. 
That's all. Is that helpful even for you women who seem to have it all organized??? ;) (I know, what others see is rarely the whole picture).

Well, my kitchen smells like whole wheat flour. My tummy is full. Ender had TWO helpings of pancakes and was sad when I put the leftovers away. Michael had two servings. I'm just blown away! 
I even had an extra (read third) serving, which might not be so awesome. And now that Scarlett is dozing in my arms, I will clean up the dishes. With a smile-- I want to do it. (Oh! So maybe all those years I never minded dishes, I should have realized that the women who made meals every day probably dreaded dishes...)

This is a happy sight to me because it means we ate together.
We had a yummy meal!
Dishes are just a reminder that I fed my family.


  1. You are so cute! I want to be like you when I grow up. And don't you LOVE your Blendtec? I just got one too and I want to cuddle it, love it, and call it George.

    Will you send me your address?
    Love Angelica

  2. Well I get what you are saying I just have a hard time applying it. You really are amazing!

    1. Thank you-- as for having a hard time applying it? No judgment coming from me! I know exactly what you mean!!! Sometimes I think I'm just stubborn, and it's a matter of time more than anything.


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