My mother loves to cook, so I grew up eating freshly cooked meals. In my recollection, we had a hot homemade meal almost every day. As a child, I didn’t think much of it since it was a normal, ordinary occurrence. As an adult, I see now that my mother had superpowers. Besides teaching me how to prepare some pretty great stuff, I learned the importance of taking the time to nourish myself and my family.
The nourishment was more than the food that was provided. For a half-hour to an hour every night, we got practice being human together. We brought to the table our victories, our failures, our concerns, and cares. We brought our bad behavior, our shortcomings, and all our imperfections along with our talents, personalities, hopes, and dreams. It was time reserved just for eating and being together, a rare occurrence these days.
We didn’t always get along, and we didn’t always like what was being served, but we were there together being family. Dinner was reliably at 6 (or thereabouts), and almost nothing seemed to interfere with that: no karate, no dance, no music lessons, no sports, nothing. In today’s world of overfull schedules and ambitions, pulling us from the dinner table, we need a reason to come back home. Maybe I’m getting nostalgic here, but we sat down as a family to eat more often than not.
I’m not sure what motivated or inspired her to go through the heroic effort of getting dinner on the table every day, but whatever the reason, I’m grateful. The experience and the food became so deeply ingrained in me that I can’t help but carry on the tradition, at least in spirit. My ability to provide nutritious, soul-feeding food together with dedicated time to sit and be together has become a barometer for my family’s use of time and overall well-being.
When I lack time to put together a home-cooked meal, I know I need to re-evaluate our schedules and what I’ve allowed into that space. This isn’t a militant standard by any means. Unlike my mother, cooking isn’t my superpower, so meals from scratch every day is ordinarily out of the question. But if more than a week goes by and I haven’t spent some time in the kitchen cooking up some love for me and the fam, then I take pause and ask myself if I’m focusing on the right things. Do I have my priorities straight? How will this affect our health and happiness as individuals and as a family unit?
This week and in the following weeks, kids start school again, and we are moving back into old routines and schedules. It’s so easy to get swept up into our busy lives. Amid the hurry up and get there, if we can continue to take time to feed ourselves, really feed ourselves, I wholly believe it will nourish our bodies, minds, and souls.