Thursday, March 21, 2013

Whatever: My motivation

A few days ago, my husband remarked that we never eat out anymore.
He said it matter of factually, in response to me noting that we are running out of most of our usually well stocked spices.  He was not complaining. In fact, he followed it up with  a compliment to my cooking. That is a compliment I will take, for sure.

Cooking at home, every night is something I mostly enjoy. The idea of making a meal for my family gives me great pleasure. Being a mostly stay at home mom is a luxury I do not take for granted for one second. Cooking falls under my jurisdiction as such. However, like every other job in the world, there is stress. Less so now that my kids are not home all the time and I don't have to entertain them and expand their minds 24/7 as I did when they were toddlers and preschoolers. Instead my stresses are managing a household, making sure everyone is where they need to be and keeping the darn kids fed and clothed. Coming up with creative and healthy dinners is sometimes overwhelmingly boring sometimes. I feel like I have "planning block" and thus the stress.

Cooking requires planning, shopping, schlepping, and of course, actual prep and cooking.  I had a conversation with my sister's mother in law during Thanksgiving dinner about how much the real cost of a meal is. She was a stay at home mom for almost 20 years and now is a high powered exec at Xerox. She talked about the time involved in cooking a meal that takes 15 minutes to eat. Depressing, for sure. I think it takes bout 3 hours to make dinner taking into consideration the planning all the way to washing the dishes. If you add that time to the monetary cost of the actual food, cooking is not that cost effective.

However, if you factor in the benefits, the scales tips the opposite direction. 
Cooking and eating at home allows for control over what my family eats. We eat as much organic and hormone free local food as possible. I keep fats to a bare minimum as well as chemicals, additives and preservatives. My kids are healthy, have normal weights in an obese society and as I have said before, have avoided the teenage acne for the most part.

 The true value is not the food, but something less tangible.We sit down and talk about random things. Last night it was someone asking my daughter if she had been sending inappropriate texts to someone else (she hadn't) and how much hearsay can wreck your life.  My girls don't spend a huge amount of time with my husband during the school year, so that dinner time convo with his point of view as a man/boy is extremely valuable. We also talk about what we like to eat, where we want to vacation and who likes whom in the 6th grade. (No one at our dinner table likes anyone else in the 6th grade.) In other words, very serious stuff.

As an adult, my family has one joke about our mom Barbara. The joke is something she said at the family dinner table when I was 17 years old. Still gets told, still is funny (to us) and still is a great memory. Happened at the family dinner table almost 25 years ago. Memories like that are so important for familial bonds to last. My hope is that my girls will move away and long for dinners at my house, just like I miss having my parents and sisters together around the table eating whatever was the meal one of us fixed. The laughter and the love was truly fierce and that is what prompts me to scour cookbooks and Pinterest to keep my family happy and healthy.

There are so many articles in the media these days about stay at home versus working moms. Studies are routinely done, etc to find out various things about which is "better". Well, for my family it is not as easy as "which is better". The money that I would earn now going to work full time would be extremely beneficial. If I could get a job with insurance benefits, there would be no question, I would go back full time, even if what I earned was miniscule. The financial benefits would be enormous,even though the sacrifice of our family's quality of living would be sacrificed, in my opinion.

As a full time job with benefits does not seem to be in the cards for me right not, I will continue to focus on the positive of our sacrifice.  I am the pressure valve (and sometimes the pressure cause) of my family. I try to have a clean, comfortable, happy place for everyone to come home to from the stresses of work and school. Clothes are clean and dinner is made. We are safe, even for a short time, from the insanity of the world.  That is my motivation.

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