Monday, April 28, 2014

My Daughter, The Vegetarian?

Having two girls, I’m very conscious of food issues. Having had my own issues with food growing up, and still having them to some degree now, I’m very careful not to berate my body in front of them, and not to talk about going on a diet with them.

Unless of course, they bring it up. On Friday, I got a text from The Princess, “Can I be a vegetarian?” Now, putting aside my initial response, which was “Why the heck are you texting this to me?” my second thought was wondering where this desire came from and worrying about whether this was a symptom of an eating disorder (to all grandmothers out there, relax, it’s not, I checked).

When she got home, we had a brief discussion about the idea. I remember wanting to be a vegetarian when I was in college. Of course, my desire was directly tied to other issues, and while I love vegetarian dishes to this day, I’m not a vegetarian. There wasn’t time for much of a discussion, as she was packing to go away for the weekend, but I did have time to ask a few questions and to impart some advice.

The first thing I asked was why she wanted to be one. She has several dancer friends who spend a lot of time talking about diet and their own weight, and my biggest concern was that she was concerned about her own. Anyone who knows her would know how ridiculous that is, but there’s no telling what a fifteen year old girl sees when she looks in the mirror--I know. Thankfully, she does not think she’s fat and she’s not looking at vegetarianism as a way to lose weight. She sees it as a way to eat healthier.

I applaud that desire in her. While she basically eats whatever is put in front of her, she has a very limited list of things she likes, her tastes run to sweets and she’d rather skip a snack than eat a healthy one. So the advice I gave her, in the limited time we had to talk, was that eating healthy was a great idea, but vegetarianism wasn’t the only way to do it. We could limit her junk food and increase her healthy food. If she truly wants to become a vegetarian, I insist she meets with a nutritionist, who will show her what to do and how to do it. And, being the mom that I am, I told her the only way I’d allow her to consider this at all was if she agreed to eat eggs, soy, tofu and beans. I stressed the word, “and.” If she’d told me she was considering this for ethical reasons, I may have reacted differently, but I don’t want her further limiting her food choices, or only replacing protein with vegetables. She needs to be healthy.

Throughout the weekend, I got multiple texts from her telling me about the salads she was eating. I asked her what she put in them and then bought the same ingredients from the grocery store so she could have them at home. I’ve also told her if she wants to try it for a week, I’ll do it with her. Then again, I served London Broil for dinner the night she came home. ;)

I’m not sure where this is going. I’ll support her choice as long as she goes into this with the right attitude. I have a hard time picturing her actually going through with this. But if it gets her to develop a healthy attitude toward food, regardless of what her actual decision is, I'm all for it!

Monday, April 14, 2014

Passover Prep

I’m sitting here by myself in a quiet house. I’ve been up since six, baking for Passover. Now I’m waiting for the popovers to be done, the cheesecake to cool, and the gross box-mix cake that we eat for breakfast (cake for breakfast is the one thing both girls look forward to at Passover) to be covered. My husband has left for work, and for the moment, both girls are sleeping. It’s the first time I’ve been alone, in a peaceful house, in days.

I’ve been cleaning my house for Passover for days. My kitchen is actually sterile—or was, before I baked this morning. It was so clean, it’s almost a shame to use it again. The only time I’ve sat is when I’ve been too exhausted to stand anymore, and only for a short time before I went back to work. The hardest jobs are over.

The teen could sleep all day if I let her—I think the latest I’ve let her sleep is 11, and then I got angry because she wasn’t up yet, even though I never woke her. One more check in the mistake column. But the tween is usually up with the sun. The only thing keeping her in bed is her fatigue from a late night baseball game that, despite her best efforts, takes her a few days from which to recover.

I must have asked my husband three times this morning what was wrong, if he was okay, if he was sure there wasn’t anything wrong. He finally looked at me and said this is how he is every morning, I’m just never awake enough to notice.

True. Even on school mornings (we’re on spring break) when I’m up making the kids breakfast and lunch before they leave, I’m half asleep and counting the minutes before I can go back to bed.

But this morning, his alarm rang at six and I jumped out of bed. For me, Passover is all about the food. Literally. I’m not saying it’s not about the seder—I love the seders—or the ritual or even the cleaning. But during Passover, all of our thoughts revolve around eating. It’s not so much wishing for food we can’t eat, although that’s definitely part of it. But for me, it’s about scheduling food into our day.

Because there are so many foods we can’t eat, there is a lot of thought that goes into what we can. Most of those foods are handmade. I joke that during Passover I feel like a pioneer woman, because just as I finish making one meal, I have to start preparing for the next one. We plan our daily activities around making sure we’re home in time to prepare lunch or cook dinner.

And this morning, even though Passover doesn’t start until tonight, I had to start early. My house is cleaned for Passover. That means no non-Passover foods can be eaten here, which means we need to go out for breakfast. But I also needed to bake for tonight (the cheesecake), tomorrow’s breakfast and my husband’s lunch for the week (we’ll get home too late tonight for me to do it). Add in a dental appointment, which seemed like a good idea when I scheduled it, and a lunch date with camp friends for my girls and leaving for Pennsylvania mid-afternoon, and there is little time to actually do any baking. Especially if I want to get a shower in. J

So, I was up early and functioning early. And now I have time to relax before the rest of the house descends.

Monday, April 7, 2014


I’ve been spending my days counting.

Counting down until Passover. Counting how many meals to plan for the holiday and how much of each ingredient I need. Counting ways to make this holiday more than just numbers—trying to find the meaning.

Counting guests and invitations and kippot. Counting on my daughter to help me find the joy and pride in this milestone, when right now, it all seems to come down to numbers.

Counting mg of Tylenol given to the teen and hoping her liver outlasts the back pain.  Counting on her future to have made all of this worth it. Counting on the love of my friends and family, who pulled us through.

Counting words, both good and bad, and pages and scenes and chapters to get my manuscript ready for submission, and wondering if it’s any good, or whether it even matters. Counting on my critique partners to understand, when no one else does.

Counting down to an auction, counting money, counting volunteers and realizing how little there are of both. Counting on my ability to hide my own fears about pulling this off from those around me and pretending “It will be fine.”

Counting sunny days and sunshine and being thankful that winter is over. Even though I hate complaining about weather.

Counting calories and numbers on a scale and knowing they’re only numbers. Remembering to stop counting in front of my daughters, because they don’t need my disorders.

Counting the hours and minutes in a day and trying to get everything done before the bus pulls up and the lives around me take precedence. And digging deep for a smile, no matter how tired I may be.

I’ve been spending my days counting, and I need to stop.