This is a post a wrote for my food blog. But it was really more about writing (and Life, with a capital L) than about food. So I’m sharing it on this site as well.
Real Life. For Five.
I hate to bring up the Gwyneth thing again (really, I do), but — bear with me, this is going to loop back to food eventually — remember her big news? Anyone with a passing interest in pop-culture (or anyone who fairly regularly just ends up stuck in grocery store lines staring at magazine covers) probably recalls all the cover time Gwyneth got in March 2014 with her announcement that she and her rockstar husband, Chris Martin of Coldplay fame, were going through a “conscious uncoupling”.
Yes… that’s really what she called it. And we can debate whether or not this is a ridiculous phrase and/or why any of us should care. But I’ll tell you why I cared (beyond the fact that I have this ongoing obsessive love/hate relationship with her and her cookery and lifestyle endeavors).
I cared because I couldn’t avoid it. Within 24 hours of the People Magazine cover about 15 friends of mine texted me photos of the cover with comments something along the lines of “OMG! yr BFF gwyneth copying you again!” or “r u 2 cosmically linked or what?” and a lot of “you? gwyneth? WTF?!”
Because in February (ahem, a month ahead of you, GP!) Bill and I made the same decision after going through a long, long process of a similar version of what I can only imagine she and Chris went through. Granted, ours was a much less beautiful-people-celebrity/rockstar-super-rich-lifestyle version — more of a middle-aged-okay-in-the-looks-department-mortgage-three-kids-old-Volvo-lifestyle version.
Regardless, no matter your lifestyle or the specifics of your situation, I know that it is not an easy decision for anyone to make or an easy process for any family to go through. While I agree with many of the Gwyneth detractors that the “uncoupling” part of her phrase is kind of goofy, I must admit that the “conscious” part really struck me . I honestly don’t think there has been another single decision in my life into which I have put so much mental energy. And I expect to continue to do so every day for as long as I can imagine — even though the decision was made many months ago and the specifics and logistics have been settled for almost as long.
Divorce is such a short word for something that is so NOT short. It is complex, labor-intensive, guilt-ridden, sleep-depriving, logistically-challenging and, whether they want it to or not, has some kind of effect on practically everyone you know. It’s kind of like having a baby, but without the occasional cuteness that helps keep you plowing ahead through all the horrible parts (see above list – kind of similar, right?)
But what you are left with at the end of the day is … you are still a family. No matter the direction you think you may be heading, you still have your own history, your family customs, your shared experiences — the stories and values you want to pass on to your kids. For us, food, cooking and sharing meals with friends and family was, and will continue to be, a big part of the memories we share with the kids and the future memories we want to make with them.
Unfortunately, the fun, healthiness, and enjoyment of making food and eating together got pushed to the wayside. Like in any stressful time of life, many days we just struggled to get through the day. Bad habits come back easily. And anything requiring some effort has to take a backseat to the things that MUST get your energy. Some days I was just beyond thrilled that I managed to get homework done, give the 6 year old a bath (finally), AND had clean clothes for them to wear to school the next day. AND had gone 24 hours without breaking down in tears in front of some random stranger. (Sorry about that, Mr. Pharmacist.)
We are slowly getting back on track. We almost always sit down and eat both breakfast and dinner together (either Bill with the boys, or me with the boys); there’s always fresh fruit and vegetables of some kind in the house; I only forgot to feed them lunch one time this month…. It gets a bit better all the time. But we have a ways to go: Bill thinks I’m buying too many unhealthy snacks; I think he’s taking the boys out to eat too much. (We are both right).
So, we discussed this post before I wrote it and agreed that we want to use this to goad us into getting our food time with the boys back on track. Back to the more conscious (see how I impressively brought that full-circle?) way of eating that we used to value and enjoy. Back to making food and family time not just a priority, but a fun and rewarding part of every day.
Next post I’ll talk about some Real Life revisions to our rules. And we’ll tackle:
- dining out
- and, feeding growing boys (i.e., “Wow. Did you see how much he just ate?”) while still having money left to pay the internet bill
Stick with us. We need all the support we can get.
(A People Magazine link if you simply must know more …. or if you’ve never heard of Gwyneth Paltrow and Chris Martin.)