As my girls grow older I find myself often reflecting back to the years of my late teen and twenties (a time I remember more clearly than my childhood). One thing I used to enjoy was cooking. I would cook dinner parties, fancy cakes and try new recipes all the time.
When I was first married (late twenties) I set some very specific goals for the time before children. One of them was that I would create a repertoire of recipes so that I could continue to throw dinner parties even after children had arrived. I knew that my time would be more limited at that season of my life, but I still wanted to have friends in our home and to share meals together. I still wanted to be able to cook.
I achieved this goal and continued to cook fancy dinners and desserts until our third child, Naomi, was born. A lot changed when she was born – sometimes she laughs at that and wonders if she was such a terrible baby. She wasn’t really – she was sick and that took time but she wasn’t terrible!! Then when Naomi was 1 year old we started homeschooling, she got sick again and then Daniel was born. They were very busy years.
It wasn’t as if I stopped cooking – just my priorities changed. Three course meals with fancy desserts and table decorations were no longer important. Having people around was still important, very important, but what that looked like had to change.
- We started having potlucks – either with a big crowd, or just another family.
- Sunday lunch was a good time to have folk over and I would simply buy fresh bread, ham and salad. Chocolate biscuits seemed like a nice treat!
- Saturday nights were a good time to catch up with other families and spaghetti bolognaise is quick and easy – and cheesecake became my staple dessert.
My cooking for the family changed too – no longer was there time to try out new recipes but rather we stayed with the old, tried and faithful! In fact, a few years ago we had a chef living with us and he wanted to treat each of us to a special meal. He asked the kids for their favourites – he was not very impressed with their requests: pizza, breakfast cereal, lasagne, steak and salad, bacon and eggs. He ended up making some choices himself and gave us the opportunity to expand our taste buds! One meal he cooked was Beef Wellington – delicious – and one of the meals I used to cook many years ago – but not any more.
The purpose in sharing this with you has been to see that priorities change. People may not see me as a ‘cook’ these days and that doesn’t really matter – but what matters is that I’m okay to let something go that was important to me – and to see that these things are likely to be only a season. At the moment I’m in a season of helping my children cook and giving them time to explore and expand their repertoires.
One day I may become a fancy cook again – but until then cooking is just one of those things I do to meet my other goals.
- To create a time for family conversations around the meal table
- To keep my family healthy with nutritious meals
- To teach my children to cook (so they can meet broader goals)
- To help other families who have a need
- To be hospitable with other folk coming into our home