My family had to do without me much of last week as I was caring for my mother-in-law who was recovering from a bad case of bronchitis. This meant my family had to handle things I normally handle, like laundry and cooking.
My daughters do know how to do laundry. They weren’t as diligent as I am, but the majority of it was done when I returned home four days later. They also know how to cook, but opted for easy food stuffs. My husband grilled hamburgers a few times and there were hotdogs in the freezer and a case of chili in the pantry, so at least they ate at home while I was gone.
As I walked in the front door, exhausted after the emotional stress of caring for someone who is ill, I heard an audible sigh of relief from my daughters: Mom was back in the house. Any task they were working on, whether it was homework, a household chore, or their knowledge of how to do laundry or cook meals just stopped. They handed their psyches back to me.
It was a pay week and normally I grocery shop Thursday of pay weeks, but I didn’t have the energy. I spent the next day recovering from being gone: putzing around the house, finishing the laundry, cleaning the kitchen, and worrying about my mother-in-law in her continued recovery. The last thing I was interested in was going out and going grocery shopping.
I took stock of the pantry, refrigerator and freezer and determined grocery shopping wasn’t an immediate requirement; we were fine for several more days with milk, fruit, frozen vegetables, lunch ingredients to start the next school week, frozen meat products, rice. There was plenty to eat until the following week when I could pull myself together and focus on a shopping list and what we needed.
I was sitting in the living room, taking a break from my putzing, when my youngest wandered into the kitchen, opened the fridge, looked in the hall pantry, looked on the additional food storage shelves in the laundry hall and exclaimed, “You have to go grocery shopping!”
I said, “What exactly could I purchase that would change your life right now?”
“I don’t know,” she said, “It just seems like there is no food in the house.”
I knew what the problem was, but I wasn’t willing to voice it out loud until I was helping my oldest with her homework and she said the same thing.
It’s not that we didn’t have food in the house, it’s that the chili, hotdogs and burgers were gone. The food that was left had to be made into something edible. It wasn’t quick cooking with the grill or microwave; the food had to be created, which would mean thawing a meat product, chopping it up, putting it in a pan, and adding other ingredients to make a meal.
Usually when I cook dinner, I make way too much so there are leftovers my family can eat for lunches or dinners on the weekends. They are used to having plastic containers full of leftovers they can graze from on the days I don’t cook.
Understand, I unexpectedly went to my mother-in-law’s on Sunday; I hadn’t cooked all weekend because I don’t cook on the weekends; I was gone until late Wednesday night; Thursday was payday, but I was too tired to cook or replenish their supply of chili.
Finally, after much whining and complaining about being hungry and apparently unable to create food on their own, I broke down and cooked on Saturday. I made extra so there is now a container of leftovers in the fridge, which gives my family the security of knowing that there is food and a Mom back in the house.
Gretchen Leigh is a stay-at-home mom who lives in Covington. She’s busy cooking so her family has leftovers in the fridge. You can read her column every week on covingtonreporter.com under the Lifestyles section.. Find her on Facebook under Living with Gleigh or read more of her writing and her daily blog on her website livingwithgleigh.com.