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What Realization

September 28, 2016 - Jen Zbozny
It wasn't until I became a full-time mom responsible for both feeding and nutrition for a new human that I realized how huge the responsibility of meals is. When I was a child, my mom, or step-mom, or grandmothers were largely in charge of food. As a kid I went grocery shopping, mostly with my mom. She was the most fun ever in the grocery store. I think doing wacky things and having fun was her way of addressing what was mundane or worse for her. I also know it's why I too goof off with Eve in the grocery store. When she was a toddler, I'd invent games for her in the different aisles. We'd make up silly songs. And once a month I'd let her pick out one new and interesting piece of fresh food to try, experiment with, see what we could learn.

Here's the thing though. When I left home at 17 to dorms and at 19 to an apartment, I was in charge of feeding myself but it wasn't really a stressor. That's largely because I had fairly decent eating habits and largely because I was a college kid who sort of didn't care anyway. Let's also be very clear here - I ate a lot of junk and cheap pizza. I didn't starve or jeopardize my health. I was fed. Flash forward to life as part of a childless married couple. I had a demanding full-time job with non-traditional hours. That meant I cooked on Fridays and packed what I could but again, I trusted my husband to feed himself and I ate a lot of carry-out for lunches in the office.

That leads me here. I now have some guilt because having a child smacked me full on in the face (or gut, really) with how much work it takes to feed a family. I remember thinking, "why do people need to eat three meals a day?" and "I just want an app that tells me every day "here's what to make for dinner". I loved food. I loved cooking. But planning meals and choosing grocery items because overwhelming and a source of anxiety for me as a new mom. Suddenly I had stress about making sure Eve had a balanced meal three times a day, every day, forever. Then I stressed about making sure I used every item I bought in the most efficient way. Then I stressed about finding ways to make-ahead and freeze. And on, and on, and on.

Let's just say the learning curve there packed a huge wallop. One of the biggest parts of that wallop is how it hit me that I'd never really processed how that's what my mom did for us. Every day. Three times a day. Until we were out of the house. It's kind of enormous. She's no longer with us so I can't go back and thank her. I know for certain she'd find my realization super funny. And I know if I'd told her about my initial stress, she'd have said "just be patient with yourself. It will get better. You're going to be fine. Food will be fun for you again."

And she'd have been right. I got through that hard part and I love thinking about food and cooking. Eve is great at trying new foods for me. Regularly she suggests recipe ideas and we talk cooking and food tips a great deal - usually as I cook and she helps or sometimes does homework.

I still have some guilt about not realizing how much work that was for my mom. Thus I encourage you to go thank whoever in your life fought the food battle for you as a child. It really can be daunting.


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