Tuesday, December 11, 2007

Jemima's Jail

I fixed pancakes for dinner tonight. Actually, Austin made them.

We like pancakes. We eat them pretty often. We keep pancake mix in the cabinet at all times, and syrup in the fridge. These are staples along with noodles and a jar of Prego's best.

Between pasta that even Olive Garden would be ashamed of and The Cagle Family IHOP, my family stays hunger free. It usually doesn't bother me. But tonight it made me unsure of my status as a parent. I never knew that Aunt Jemima would betray me like that.

I am probably as busy as the next person. I work about thirty hours a week, married to someone who ends up putting in about sixty hours. We share a car, which means that sometimes I am not working, but at work because my car says that is the way it should be. I have two children, ages four and one. They go to a preschool a few days a week. I teach Sunday School to pre-K kids every week. I try to read smart people things because I can't go to school right now. I have friends and parties and doctors appointments, but that covers the basics.

In the midst of this normal schedule, I can't seem to get the whole dinner thing down. I'm a decent cook. Some of my dishes are even quite good. I can follow a recipe, and I'm not afraid to try anything in the kitchen. Except for apple pie. I'm never going to go there again.

I love lists. I would love to have every item in my house labeled, with a designated storage space just like in the Pottery Barn catologs.

I don't mind grocery shopping. If my kids aren't with me, I even find it soothing at times.

But I cannot make Dinnertime (the idea) work.

In short, dinner doesn't work out because I don't really put that much thought into it. On Sundays I could clip coupons, see what is on sale, and make a meal list for the week. I could organize a fabulous color-coded shopping list. Austin would even be able to get groceries on his day off.

But instead I take a nap, or read European history while drinking 4 cups of hot tea and hoping that Sabra will stay asleep for fifteen aditional minutes.

Dinner planning causes me stress. King Henry does not.

Tonight as my kids sat down at their wee little table, and Austin and I sat at our big people table, I felt the face of my father looking at me. I heard his words of the glories of the shared family table and the evils that befell society when it detered from this holy act. And I fought with him. And then I fought with myself. I told Dad and myself that I am busy, I am abnormally anxious about everything and thus often stressed, I have a difficult family to plan for, I get home late. But I still felt as if my proverbial tail should be tucked somewhere.

I want my kids to eat their vegetables. But they are allergic to them/stuff them in their diaper/cry when vegetables are mentioned. So I make macaroni.

I want us to all sit at the same table. But my kids like small chairs that they don't fall out of. And I don't have a high chair. So I let them sit at their little table together.

I want to have a chalkboard sign in my kitchen that proudly displays Thursday's offering of Smoked Salmon with Capers and Truffle Oil and a whole buch of other things I have heard of. But I just really don't feel like making that by the time I get off work, pick up my kids and drive home. So I (Austin) serve pancakes.

And I'm not sure how to end this post. I think I want someone to tell me that pancakes are ok, my kids will not develop a pasta protein in their left eye and they will grow up to be outstanding people.

And that my Dad would understand.

I wonder what good Queen Bess would think...

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