I’ve entered the meal prep funk phase of my life. There are periods of time when I feel unmotivated to plan, shop or prepare for meals. These, like the seasons, eventually pass and I find myself inspired by others’ fresh ideas and motivated by the excitement my family generates when they realize good food is in the cards again. Lately, though, I’m completely uninterested in domestic duties. I have no urge to shop. The next season is dangerously far away for continuing to procrastinate the meal thing. As a result, food storage is dwindling. The pantry has gone neglected. Every meal is a foraging expedition; a quest to balance the food groups. Take breakfast, for example; six sleepy faces emerge from their beds each morning, with one common goal: something to eat that tastes good. It seems a reasonable expectation. When I point my finger at the cereal shelf, somehow I feel caught off guard as I see we’re fresh out. Toast? No bread.
Yesterday morning I thought of something good. There was frozen fruit in the freezer. We still had enough yogurt in the fridge. Fruit smoothies! I had visions of children falling at my feet. The nutrition pyramid police would applaud the calcium and protein that would soon be nourishing six young and developing bodies. I dumped a baggie of frozen strawberries into the blender. Spoonfuls of yogurt followed, and then I grabbed a frozen banana from the freezer. Out of the corner of my eye I spied a banana that was darker than the one I had selected. Better to use that one first, I thought, so I put the lighter one back and threw the darker banana in the blender. Minutes later, six beautiful rosy pink smoothies were in cups, and I called the crew to the table. One by one, they eagerly popped in their straws and started to sip the sweet concoction. Anticipating the gushingly glowing reviews, I started to hear comments like “This tastes funny” and “Why are there big chunky things in it?”
I put on my stern mother face and countered with “It’s what’s for breakfast, now eat it.” Another child said “Have you had this yet?” and then “It kind of tastes like the dentist.”
I wanted to laugh. But breakfast was in jeopardy. I offered to blend it a second time, and then said “Drink up, kids, so you won’t be hungry before lunch!” I said it in my most convincing tone of voice. At once, the oldest child thrust his cup into my hand and refused to drink it. The youngest said “This tastes bad” and lost interest. I put one cup into the freezer, thinking surely someone would want it later, and the other one I let sit on the table. I did try a sip. Something was just not quite right about it. Maybe the banana had freezer burn. It had looked quite shrunken, and it was definitely browner than the first one I selected.
My thoughts turned to my mother. What would Priscilla do? She is the reigning queen of “waste not, want not.” I decided she wouldn’t throw it away. I didn’t think much about it for the rest of the day, even though lunch and dinner were a continuation of the creative combinations of food items remaining in the pantry and refrigerator. At dinner time one of our children complained of a sore tooth. It was wiggly, and any pressure on the tooth to chew was painful. “I know just the thing!” I said, as I pulled out the leftover smoothie and handed her a spoon. She gladly dipped her spoon into the frozen confection and took a single bite. Her face revealed her words before they could spill out from her lips. She handed the smoothie to me. I acted uninterested and put it on the table. My husband was not around for the morning fun. I watched as he picked it up. He took a couple of bites before he picked something suspicious from his mouth and set it on the table in front of me. “What’s in this thing?” He asked.
I looked at the mystery lump and touched it with my fingernail. Strangely, it looked like a piece of gristle; a tiny lump of fat. Gristle?!?… Suddenly, and as clear as the water in the beckoning pool outside, the correct thought came to my mind. Instead of a banana, I had tossed a frozen sausage link into the controversial breakfast drink. Mystery solved; and protein, indeed. I haven’t laughed so hard in a long time. It’s an amazing rush of pleasure to own the kitchen disaster as my own. I realize that I could enjoy the many blunders of motherhood in this same way. Tears from laughter feel so good.