How did this happen?
I admit, for a few years I started to become a bit snobbish. Organic. Whole foods. From-scratch snacks and meals, almost always. Prepackaged industrial food became a dirty word in our house, and I rarely ventured down those 'middle aisles', because they were filled with the worst of the 'fake' foods (explained eloquently in books like Food Rules: An Eater's Manual). Scratch cooking really did become second nature to me, and it felt great, like I was conjuring up the spirits of my grandmothers. I baked, pureed, stocked up, froze, fermented, canned, foraged. I felt so great about my family's diet, and I wanted to share to the world that everyone could do it, if they only tried.
I was settling into a niche that I really liked, as an urban homesteader (and even got mentioned in cool articles like this one!).
Then my world inverted upon itself. My lifestyle took a really huge step back--or if not back, it at least went into a reality I hadn't know for years. I re-entered the mainstream. It wasn't exactly sudden; the transition has been taking place over a couple of years. My at-home lifestyle was possible only because I had my own business for 13 years, and that business came to a natural and needed end last year, when I closed my beloved daycare for good and got a job in the public school system. I knew my ultimate goal was to become a teacher, because that was what I'd trained to be so many years prior, but I had no idea how quickly my dream would come true.
This past August, I was hired as a full-time third grade teacher. I could barely believe my good fortune in getting a job so quickly. I'm still in a bit of shock, as I've dreamed of teaching practically as long as I've been breathing.
Diving into the job, and the hurricane that came with my new title, cannot possibly be described without giving it a whole new blogpost. The emotions, the 14 hour days, 70 hour weeks including living at school on the weekends, the fears, tears, doubts, terrors, nightmares, and heartbreaks could fill a book that I am not ready to write. I am just now, 2.5 months into my 'dream job' of teaching, starting to feel like I have some kind of footing.
My family's diet? Oh boy.
I don't think I've properly grocery shopped since the day I was hired as a teacher. Learning the ropes of this job has taken over my entire existence.
Many nights for supper we've eaten pizza rolls. Ramen. Taco Bell. Even....wait for it...McDonald's. Ugh.
I haven't had time to react, or recoil. I've had to accept this step back in nutrition. We are a family in survival mode.
My complacent foodie self has come head-to-head with my working-mom and busy family self, and for now, we are not strangers to the factory food lifestyle.
I've tried to set a simple goal--to make something from scratch at least once a week. And 'from scratch' now means I open a can of tuna and stir in some mayo and relish so that my kids can have a break from frozen fish sticks or takeout pizza. Long gone are the days when I have time to prepare anything more complicated than a pot of chili.
As life calms down, perhaps I'll figure it out. I am proud that we did harvest our sweet potatoes last week (even if it did throw out my back and take away precious grading time), but I panic to think of when I'll find time to prepare those beautiful sweet potatoes. I crave sweet potato-chickpea curry, but the clock says NO.
It took all my will to take a minute to write this post. I've been missing the blog like crazy--my absence from writing hurts almost more than my absence from the garden and kitchen.
As I navigate this new life, I hope to figure out how to keep my family healthy and to get back to my money-saving, garden-growing, scratch-cooking ways. At this moment in time, though, I am focused on being the best teacher I can be, and it's sucking me dry.
If I ever made a healthy lifestyle seem easy, and if you as a reader felt pangs of guilt, I apologize profusely. I get it now. You work, you survive, you strive to do the best you can. I am WITH YOU.
Please comment about your own struggles to find the balance. We could really use each others' support right now, without any judgement!
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