Confessions involving food, love, aging, and first-world problems

Last evening I was going to write a Facebook post how, without planning, everything I made for supper started with the letter S; salmon, Spanish rice, slaw, and spiced pears. It was simply a random observation that made me smile sometime during the preparation. Our palates were pleased and our tummies took in probably well more than our bodies needed. 

At some point during the evening I sent a Facebook message to a Haitian friend. He is associated with an orphanage where I volunteered some time and I worried about their well-being in the aftermath of Hurricane Matthew. 

While the husband so dutifully worked on dishes, I took a required online nutrition education class for a program our foster child is associated with. 

The evening got away and soon after the children were tucked in, I succumbed to slumber as well. The baby had a second fitful night, sneezing and coughing until I sat upright and held her. She slept better then and I dozed. I tried waking the husband twice this morning since the baby was finally in a deep sleep and I was holding her, but we both dozed off again until it was about a half hour before we had to get out of the house. At that point we all jumped up like  something was chasing us, scrambling to find clothes and get breakfast. 

I came downstairs to find last night’s rice and slaw still on the counter, unrefigerated and uncovered. My mood was quickly going from exhausted and grumpy to just plain mad. We eat leftovers for lunch every day so this not only meant delicious healthy food had been wasted, but that we also needed a plan b for lunch. 

The husband and I celebrate 10 years of marriage tomorrow, but life felt anything but romantic at this point. Of course it wasn’t “his fault,” but he was an easy target for my mounting frustrations. 

I jumped in the van, raced the kiddos off to school at which point I noticed my gas needle was on E. 

EMPTY, that’s what I saw and how I felt. 

After fueling up I scurried to my mother-in-law’s to take her to the walk-in clinic for some routine lab work. When I got to her house she couldn’t find her required paperwork. When my husband called the doctor to inquire about having it faxed over he was told the clinic is closed on Fridays. 

I had skipped breakfast, a second cup of coffee, and the baby was wearing mismatched clothes (at least it was clean) for an appointment that wasn’t even going to happen. 

In my mind I kept reminding myself these are all good problems compared to those being impacted by the violent storm, but that did not keep me from being frustrated. 

I ask my mother-in-law if she wanted to accompany me on a few errands. She was brave enough to say yes. 

I felt guilty, and often do, that my life is so fast-paced that I rush in and out, here and there with her, without really being present with her. I recalled a poem I memorized in school, called “Somebody’s Mother,” and pondered what Mary Dow Brine witnessed to pen these words. 

The woman was old and ragged and gray

And bent with the chill of the Winter’s day.

The street was wet with a recent snow

And the woman’s feet were aged and slow.

She stood at the crossing and waited long,

Alone, uncared for, amid the throng

Of human beings who passed her by

Nor heeded the glance of her anxious eye.

Down the street with laughter and shout,

Glad in the freedom of ‘school let out,’

Came the boys like a flock of sheep,

Hailing the snow piled white and deep.

Past the woman so old and gray

Hastened the children on their way.

Nor offered a helping hand to her—

So meek, so timid, afraid to stir

Lest the carriage wheels or the horses’ feet

Should crowd her down in the slippery street.

At last came one of the merry troop,

The gayest lad of all the group;

He paused beside her and whispered low,

“I’ll help you cross, if you wish to go.”

Her aged hand on his strong young arm

She placed, and so, without hurt or harm,

He guided the trembling feet along,

Proud that his own were firm and strong.

Then back again to his friends he went,

His young heart happy and well content.

“She’s somebody’s mother, boys, you know,

For all she’s aged and poor and slow,

And I hope some fellow will lend a hand

To help my mother, you understand,

If ever she’s poor and old and grey,

And her own dear boy is far away.”

“Somebody’s mother” bowed low her head

In her home that night, and the prayer she said

Was, “God be kind to the noble boy,

Who is somebody’s son, and pride and joy!”

Somewhere in the morning I sneaked my first glance at the Facebook world for the day and saw the response from my Haitian friend. 

“We are all safe,” he replied, “but our family has run out of food and everyone is underfed and hungry.” 

My breath caught in my throat. I thought about how often I eat because I am with friends or bored or stressed, without my body actually needing the food to survive. Suddenly a meal with all foods that started with an S seemed silly, shallow, and smug. Not that it was anything more than just a passing thought anyway, but the blessing of choices and abundance overwhelmed me once again. 

I have had time to pause, to breathe, to be mindful of all that is good in my life since the crazy chaos of the morning, and even in those moments of frustration I was keenly aware of my blessings, but I’m also so human, so imperfect. 

Someone told me recently that my life is to be envied; a loving faithful marriage, beautiful children, etc. There is no doubt I am blessed far beyond what I ever dreamed, but I would never want to appear perfect or make it seem like our family is without life’s normal frustrations and challenges. That’s why I am sharing this post with you today. 

What techniques or practices do you find helpful in stressful situations?  

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