Five years of parenting (& living!)…

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Five years ago, I was over-pregnant (almost 2 weeks past my due date) & our labor was just beginning. I went to an acupuncturist for the first time, desperate to get things started after trying just about everything I thought might help or at least wouldn’t hurt.

I was afraid.

Afraid of labor. Afraid of the unknown. Afraid of the changes to come.

I was also probably afraid that I’d never sleep again (thankfully I was wrong on that front, though I didn’t sleep for a long while & sleep still isn’t the same…).

Labor was amazing (afterward, hormones coursing through my veins like a wonder drug, I told my mother it didn’t hurt a bit) & amazingly difficult (it lasted days, not hours, & did involve a fair amount of pain).

But all that seems like a long time ago now.

My now four-year-old, soon-to-be five-year-old, has changed me in so many ways. Really, he’s thrown my life into a tailspin.

And yet, not.

I’ve managed to maintain my identity in the ways that matter most to me. I still pursue my work with passion & integrity.

But, despite the technical difficulties involved in achieving “work-life balance,” I feel more… well… balanced. As I’ve been working on my next post on self care (coming soon… promise!) I realize that balance is about more than leaving work at a particular time or having scheduled family time on the weekends. It’s also a mental game.

There are work stressors & home stressors. In the past 5 years, life with T has taught me that managing those stressors is really a key in finding life balance. If I can leave home stressors at home, I can be more productive at work. If I can leave work stressors at work, I can be a better parent & partner & person.

I wasn’t always able to separate out these two stressors (& I still fail a lot). I’m a focused person, so it’s always been easy to fall down a rabbit hole of activity & stress. I didn’t exactly feel like I was living at those times & I was less than healthful & a poor partner.

Law school (especially 1L) will make just about anyone crazy & I jumped down that rabbit hole (more like a worm hole) quicker than my partner could say “why did I move across the country to be abandoned by my law school wife?” (Sorry sweetie!) Then T came along & suddenly I was wondering why I was trudging down a path I didn’t create (journal, advocacy group, research assistant, moot court, clinic, etc.). Did I really need to do all this stuff? I decided I didn’t. I chose two activities & threw myself into them to the extent one can with a newborn. I gave myself (most) weekends off for the first time in my life. I had a home life! (Note: This is not career advice for current law students! I have trouble contemplating the tough market you are facing right now!)

T (or life with T) has helped me to prioritize & compartmentalize in a way that has been liberating. Even though I have more responsibility & the stakes are higher, I am more relaxed. I feel like I am living in a way that is abundantly more fulfilling.

Thank you, T. And happy almost birthday.

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The Problem with “Me Time”

Does a cup of chai, a good Russian novel, and a cozy blanket constitute "me time" or true self care?

Does a cup of chai, a good Russian novel, and a cozy blanket constitute “me time” or true self care?

Happy (Very Belated) New Year! I thought now is as good a time as ever to try to get back into the blogging “habit.”

I never imagined when I embarked on my journey toward better self care (see my last post, way down toward the end) that blogging would take the hardest hit.

Focusing on self care has led me down other paths & now (maybe? hopefully?) back to blogging. I have been thinking about self care a lot & I feel I finally have something to share here in a series of posts about how we (anybody, but specifically mothers & even more specifically, outside jobbing mamas) can take better care of our individual selves.

So what is this “self care” I am blathering about? I did not I invent the term, but I’ve discovered it recently & it seems to describe perfectly the journey I am on right now.

Self care is, in short, my attempt to create a less ego-centered version of “me time.” Call it a cheap word trick if you want, but it’s working for me as a way to reframe the concept in a way that I need it to be reframed.

I have consistently resisted the culture that glorifies “me time” … especially the innocent-seeming-but-really-insidious version: “mommy me time.” I hinted at my dislike of “me time” a little here, but I wasn’t able to truly articulate my feelings because, well, I hadn’t given the topic enough thought. I’ve also tried to make “me time” work for … me… but it didn’t stick. What can I say, the term & the concept just rub me the wrong way. (I’m sure I’m in the minority here, so please share your thoughts on “me time” in the comments!)

After spending a couple months mired in trying to figure it out, I can now say this: I think the ego-driven competition (& it IS a competition) for “me time” is consumerist in nature & results in an unhealthy division of the self that drive us away from those that are closest to us, namely our children & partners.

Whoa… That’s a hefty sentence, so let me start to unpack my thoughts a bit.

When I say “me time” is an ego-driven competition, I mean that I two ways. There’s the more literal meaning: Our culture (& more specifically, the world imagined by advertisers) is competitive, pitting one Lululemon-see-through-yoga-pants-wearing mom against another. Who has the time (& money) to eat at the trendiest restaurants? To have nails & hair done stylishly? To be decked out in the hippest wardrobe?

“Me time” is this sort of fungible good that we all want more of (even if we can’t quite define precisely what we want or need as unique individuals). We’re trained to desire the time (& money… but that’s a post for another day) to pursue what makes us feel good now. What makes me “happy” in the moment. What distracts me from my real life & responsibilities.

And because “me time” is fungible, we get this idea that we can swap or “buy” (more of) it with time we might otherwise spend on other activities (including sleeping). And because we want more “me time” we might start to resent activities (playing trains on the floor, cooking, working, etc.) that really aren’t fungible.

Parents, of course, are typically in the red when it come to time, so it’s no wonder that the idea (or dream) of “me time” has a certain cache among moms (& dads). Thus, even subconsciously, we start to compare our toil-a-day lives with others… others who often seem more put together than ourselves:

So-and-so friend (or worse yet, “so-and-so blogger”) always seems to find time for “me time”! What gives? I can’t even shower before I head off to work, let alone go to a yoga class, go out to eat with my girlfriends, get my hair cut or even run a comb through my damned hair!! WTF! There must be something wrong with me! No, it’s that my partner is unsupportive! Yes, and my child is a monster who has destroyed every last semblance of my individual being!!! Argh!!!

You get the picture.

And, yes, I have experienced some version of all of the above.

… Not pretty.

Ok, so that’s the literal, keeping up with Ms. Jones, competition. It gets me nowhere really fast & I’m guessing it’s not really helpful for anyone.

But there’s another way the search for “me time” is a “competition.” And it’s an internal competitions of sorts.

Think about what “me time” really is… Ok, duh, it’s time for “me,” but who or what is “me”? It seems to me (ha!) that the “me” in “me time” is an abstract ego that is really nobody at all.

Yikes!! (I can’t believe I’m actually writing about ego… I hate Freud!)

Seriously, that mythical “me” searching for some equally mythical “me time” is not me. I actually don’t know who she is. I don’t even know what she wants to do with her hypothetical “me time.” But guess what? Who ever she is, the minute I start thinking about finding or creating “me time,” she starts vying for my attention & tries to dominate my sense of self.

In other words, the ego-centered “me” is competing with my partnered-self, my mother-self, my daughter-, sister-, granddaughter-, friend-self. My worker-bee-self, my homemaker-self & my bookmaker-self.

Wow! I have a lot of selves!

And in a sense, they’re all competing for my attention & time in any given moment. But there’s no denying that these are the selves that make me who I am. And there are probably others… some a bit buried (like my music-making-self).

It’s difficult… ok, it’s impossible to be all of these things at once. I need help managing all these selves in a way that works for me & those in my little circle. What I don’t need is some new-gal-self in town trying to push the others aside in a quest to push her own superficial agenda.

I need a self-manager-self, not another self trying to dominate the others. Plus, this “me time”-grabbing self seems kinda selfish. She never wants to do anything with my son or spouse. Sometimes she wants to hang out with a girlfriend or two, but usually she wants to engage in solitary activities & spend money. She cares more about how I look than who I’m with or what I’m actually doing.

And sometimes, when she’s around & not getting her way, she starts complaining about my son & spouse. She complains about having to work. She gets jealous easily. She tries to turn me (us?) against them.

Frankly, she’s a bitch.

I don’t need the drama & so I’ve decided I don’t need “me time.”

So there you have it, why I’m anti-”me time.” In my next post I’ll tackle why & how self care is radically different from “me time” & is eminently superior (in my not-so-humble opinion). Plus, I’ll share how & why I have MFA Dad to thank for my self care epiphany.

How about you? Have you ever questioned our society’s elevation of “me time” above many other kinds of “time”? Or do you love the idea of “me time” & does this post want to make you scream?

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Mean city streets, you win.

I quit.

I don’t quit many things, but today I quit cycling.

OK, cycling is not quite a normal topic for this blog… unless it is… I promise I won’t spend too much time on the non-parenting stuff. (Also, be forewarned: There may be swearing in this blog post.)

Not-so-big-secret (though this blog has been anonymous since its inception… the job-related need for anonymity has lessened, so…): I live & work & play in Chicago.

Yes, land of the massive Divvy bike share & more than 200 of miles of bike “lanes.”

Despite being named a top cycling city, I still quit.

You see, no army of blue bikes, no quorum of bike lanes can make Chicago friendly to cyclists.

I’ve been cycling in the city since we moved here over two years ago. I take my son to school on the bike. I go to work many days out of the week on my bike. I do my grocery shopping on my bike. MFA Dad & I have date nights on our bikes. … You get the picture: Obnoxiously smug cycling family. (Ok, we’re not really smug about it; far too humble for that crap.)

Until tonight. This one is done.

Why do (did) I ride? I’m a busy mama with not even a minute to think about exercise, let alone do it. Except if I ride my bike everywhere. Then I can move my body and get shit done, which is awesome! Yes, I love the environment & it makes me happy to keep my car off the road. But there’s a bus route around the corner & the train isn’t far away… so, yay, environment!

Today I realized that I love to move my body but can’t deal with the stress cycling in Chicago causes me. “Hard core” cyclists, including MFA Dad, might call this a cop-out. When cyclists quit riding, that’s a win for cars, for poor infrastructure, for assholes. All that is true.

But here’s the thing… I’m a competent, safe cyclist. I haven’t so much as fallen off of my bike since I started riding in this city. Yet my commute to & from work feels like a minefield. In fact it kind of is a minefield: I’ve changed my route more than once to avoid danger zones, which I only know to be danger zones after someone dies in a terrible accident or is otherwise injured by a less terrible accident.

Riding on the Lakefront bike path is almost relaxing, especially when its 25 degrees outside & there is hardly anyone on it. But there’s the little problem of getting to & from the path via city streets & riding home in the dark, which is alright when it’s packed in the summer but lonely & scary when there’s no one else there.

So, for me, the stress isn’t worth it. The mini-heart-attacks. The constant vigilance required to, you know, stay alive. The animosity I feel aimed at me. The honks & yells.

It’s not so much the safety as it is the panick-inducing state cycling causes me. Mayor Rahm Emanuel can’t fix this one. (Unless he can find a way to make drivers & cyclists play nice together… I’ll be waiting!)

MFA Dad asked me today if I was feeling a bit of PTSD from a near-miss I had last week. Probably. And that is no way to live. (Being a lawyer & a mom & a primary bread-winner is plenty stressful enough, thank you!)

Of course, there are many people to thank (I couldn’t quit this alone!). The asshole talking into her phone, slowly turning right into my path. The cabbie who buzzed me trying to squeeze between me & another car at an intersection, literally making me scream in fright & then accusing me of “road rage” because I let out said scream (& a few choice words) in an out-of-breath & panicky tone due to the heart attack he had just given me. No thank-you-asshole-roll-call would be complete without also thanking my fellow cyclists, who not only make drivers hate “us” even more but who have also cut me off, yelled at me, played chicken while riding the wrong way in the bike lane, buzzed me, and nearly caused many an accident in my general path or vicinity.

So I’m queuing up my iPod & finding a good book… Tomorrow I start commuting exclusively by train & brainstorming other ways to get this busy body moving in a more relaxing way.

It sucks that this is my response to the biking situation in this city. But I only bike because it (ostensibly) makes me feel good. I’m not making a political statement when I get on my bike. I’m just listening to my body. Maybe someone will convince me I am wrong. Or maybe my mental state will change & I’ll be able to handle the stress of riding again one day. But for now, it doesn’t make me feel good or strong… it makes me feel like a frazzled mess.

Which leads me to the mama-parenting thing…. I have to find a way to deal with the stress thing. Cycling took care of part of the problem very efficiently (physical movement & health) but created another (stress & panic). So now what? I’m working on a couple of posts about self care as I explore this problem. I feel there is some barrier to taking care of myself: Is it simply a matter of math (not enough hours in the day)? Is it an ugly manifestation of “mommy guilt”? Is it something deeper?

I need both a mental & a practical solution to this problem that has vexed me almost since T was born. So far, I don’t have either…

(And I realize the need for self care is universal & that we all have various obligations that complicate our ability to find the time for the activities that we need to function as individuals. But mothers in particular—and I’ll be exploring this in an upcoming series of posts—have notoriously not only short-changed ourselves but also complicated the very idea of self care…)

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Goodbye Halloween, goodbye candy

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Is it possible to care about food & let your child enjoy a “normal” Halloween? (And by normal, I mean filled with candy…)

I haven’t figured it out yet & I suspect that each year (as T grows) will be a puzzle to be solved in the moment.

Last year, the Switch Witch came to collect most of T’s candy. T kept a small bowl of candy, which lasted a week or so. He received a small gift in exchange for “sharing” the rest with the Switch Witch. (We threw away the rest… after selecting a few pieces for ourselves.) Last year, T hardly knew what candy was, let alone did he have a “favorite.” Last year, he was content to trick-or-treat on just our block & pass by the really scary houses.

This year is different.

He loves M&Ms (as a rare treat). He planned to trick-or-treat with friends. He was afraid of nothing… the scarier, the better (including our own “scary” jack-o-lantern pictured above). He’s already started planning costumes for next year.

So this year we’ve changed it up. All the candy he could eat. On Halloween.

The rest we are sending to troops abroad. Right now it’s living on an upper shelf of the pantry.

That’s it. Done.

He went a bit crazy last night. (Though I was proud that the last “candy” he chose was a box of raisins & he acted as if he had been saving the best for last.) In the end, he complained that his tummy hurt him & he didn’t appreciate the fact that I subjected him to a thorough flossing before bed.

I think this is all compatible with a healthy food philosophy. It’s not ideal, perhaps. But the world isn’t an ideal place & learning to navigate it (& its pitfalls) is part of the game.

Goodbye, Halloween. And good riddance!

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Follow-up on mommy guilt

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So I realize that my post On mommy guilt sounded so sure & confident. I intentionally wrote it that way. I don’t think I can tackle mommy guilt if I’m wishy-washy. I don’t think it helps to think about mommy guilt while entertaining doubts.

But, nothing (no matter how objective we try or pretend to be) is fool-proof. I was reminded of this (painfully) yesterday.

T & I both had the day off (woo-hoo federal holidays!). The day started out on an emotional note: We dismantled T’s toddler bed (formerly his crib) to make room for a real bed.

The crib was a gift from my law school friends & I have vivid memories of putting it together by myself when I was 8 or 9 months pregnant. (That whole nesting thing…)

Then all of a sudden, here I am, handing my four-year-old the hex key to take out all of the bolts, which he did quite handily.

He looked at me like I was crazy when I teared up just watching him work away.

So, yeah, that’s the kind of morning it was at my house.

We had a dream-like day together, going on a nature walk, cooking & cleaning together, carving jack-o-lanterns, reading books, learning about organs.

Then after dinner, he said it.

“I don’t want to go to school tomorrow.”

He wanted to be with me.

And I thought to myself: I don’t want to go to work—I want to be with you, too.

Ouch.

Truth is, I can only pull off one of these mostly-perfect days once a quarter, if that. So, really, he wouldn’t want to be with me day in & day out.

And this morning, he was excited as we left for school.

Though I’ve done a pretty decent job at banishing mommy guilt, I am often reminded of how precious & important time spent together is for him & for myself.

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On mommy guilt

I have a friend who is struggling with “mommy guilt.” She’s started a new job & moved to a new city… She’s spending significantly more time away from her daughter than she did previously. I started writing to her & it turned into this post…

I see dealing with (& hopefully resolving) mommy guilt as a three-step process. What follows is the Mom, JD program for banishing mommy guilt for good.

First, recognize the true source of the problem.

As much as I think I’m self-aware & as much as I’d like to think I’m a completely independent thinker, I know that I am susceptible to cultural messaging. I am not immune from the image of the “perfect” mother, so revered by our society, especially at this cultural moment (a “moment” that continues to extol the wonders of motherly sacrifice, that age-old “virtue”).

Despite feminism & the rise of feminist mothering, I am bombarded with messages that insinuate that I do not spend enough time with my young child. Messages that suggest I am a bad mother for pursuing a demanding career with a young child at home. Messages that tell me there is nothing, nothing, that I could possibly prioritize over time spent with my son.

But while I am not immune from this cultural messaging, I am self-aware enough to know that these messages are external. I do not have to internalize the image of the perfect mother. I can consciously recognize that she does not exist. I do not need to be her. I do not want to be her.

Banish her!

I know it’s easier said than done. It just takes some practice. But it’s such a relief to clear that mental space & just dream about the woman & mother you want to be.

And it doesn’t matter that your mother did or did not stay home full time to care for you when you were young. Our own memories of childhood & motherhood might be complicated, even painful. My relationship with my mother confuses things a bit & in some sense I have to banish her, too! (I love you, Mom!)

Feel better? Onto step two…

Having taken off those perfect-mommy-goggles, I can take a more objective look at my own family & my relationship with my child. How is he really doing? How much of my worry & concern have I placed on myself? Is there really anything to worry about?

T has trouble with transitions. So Mondays (sometimes Tuesdays) are the challenging days in our house. Those are the days when, for him, it’s a little more difficult to be apart.

But it’s simply more “difficult” or “challenging.” He is not traumatized & is happy even on those days. I can see he is happy, despite my worries. Those perfect-mommy-goggles have distorted our relationship, have made me the epicenter of his world when in reality I can see that (as important as I am) he is his own egocentric being, with an ever-expanding place in his universe.

I can see that my concerns have more to do with me than with him. I miss him. I think I need to spend more time with him.

I don’t doubt that he misses me, too. And there is no question that spending time together is damned important. But our spending time apart is not some catastrophic thing. When I look at the situation objectively (or as objectively as I can) I see a thriving little boy. He is surrounded by people who love & care for him. He is happy.

The more important point is that I can now spot any serious or real problems & I can stop creating problems where they don’t really exist.

Which leads to step three in the Mom, JD “banish mama guilt” program: If there are problems or challenges, what can I do about them?

In any endeavor, taking an objective view can help us to be better problem solvers. Mothering is no different. No longer bogged down by images of perfect motherhood, I can analyze & strategize (which I just love to do)!

I have two examples from my past experiences.

First, I already mentioned that transitions are hard for T. I could rush to the conclusion that I’m causing the poor little guy undue stress by leaving for work every day, damaging him in untold ways. Or, I can see the problem for what it is & tackle it in a more sensible (& more productive) fashion.

So, transitions are hard… We talk about them & plan for them. I make sure that he’s gotten plenty of mama time over the weekend. We try our darndest to keep weekend activities to a minimum & keep it calm & simple. Come Sunday, we preview the week ahead. I help him pick out his school clothes. We talk about the friends he will see & the work he will do at school.

It’s not fool proof, but it mostly works! It definitely makes the transition less stressful for all of us.

My second, example is a bit more fraught.

T’s second (& beloved) nanny moved & we hired a part-time babysitter. I dreaded leaving for work. I had an awful case of mommy guilt. I don’t think I knew mommy guilt, really, until this period.

I tried to get rid of the guilt by banishing the motherhood ideal. But looking at T, I could see this transition was not working. The problem wasn’t me, it wasn’t him… It was the babysitter. She was a nice woman. But she introduced him to the concept of secrets. (Terrifying for us!) She was intractable & complained constantly about his behavior even though we had quite a few discussions about what we considered to be normal for his age & the situation (getting used to a new caregiver). She simply wanted him to obey & to accomplish this she suggested videos to teach T manners. She simply didn’t want to level with T. Or with us. And T rebelled like I’ve never seen my easy-going & kind-hearted (& polite!) child rebel. After a generous transition period, it wasn’t getting better.

I’ve never fired anyone before, but the decision to fire that particular babysitter was one of the easier decisions I’ve had to make. The situation wasn’t working & was (in fact) damaging. But I didn’t get there immediately.

While the problems seemed sort of obvious in retrospect, I think it would have been easy to ignore them had I allowed myself to be consumed by mommy guilt. If I was busy focusing on my own emotional response to the situation, I might have been tempted to brush off my concerns as just my own mommy guilt… the focus on me & not on my child’s needs.

And, really, brushing off my concerns as mere mommy guilt was my knee-jerk reaction when (after a couple weeks) things were not going so smoothly. Wasn’t it just in my head? I needed this to work! I didn’t have time to find another babysitter. After all, the babysitter wasn’t a bad person & I could see that.

It took deliberate effort to look at the arrangement objectively, to take myself (& my needs) out of the equation. There was no way it was going to work for T, who was the one spending time with this babysitter.

Now, I realize I had a sort of luxury in being able to fire this particular babysitter so quickly. Many families are a bit more locked into their care situations than we were. But it wasn’t easy for us & it never is easy for any family. We scrambled & called on the help of family & friends. The upheaval wasn’t easy for T. I was lucky to not have lost wages, but I lost many hours of productive work.

Mommy guilt is painful. It’s damaging. It’s a crutch. It’s a lie. And it gets in the way of creating a healthy family life.

Maybe I do & maybe I don’t spend enough time with T. I love him & prioritize his well-being above all else. But I can carve out a space for my career & individual pursuits as well. I can contribute to my family in many ways. Motherhood is not an either/or endeavor.

One last anecdote to illustrate my point of view on he whole mommy guilt lie:

I walked T to school this morning for early drop-off. I sometimes feel bad about shipping him off early & extending his time away from me & from home. But, looking at the situation objectively, I can see that he loves it. He gets to help set up the gym for the day & it makes him feel important. He gets to mingle with a few older children & that makes him feel mature. He gets to be in the school before most of his classmate & that makes him feel unique.

Does he miss me? Maybe.

But I wouldn’t know it by how fast he was running to get to into school this morning. Luckily, his teacher reminded him to give me a hug & say goodbye to his mama.

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A Friday night in my house

Sometimes Fridays can be exciting, but on my most recent Friday (after my first full week on the new job!) I made the following:

  • Snack bars, this recipe.
  • Gelatin with fruit juice.
  • Beans that I had soaked while I was at work (I also chopped veggies for the chili that would cook the next day in the crock pot while we celebrated my grandmother’s 80th birthday!)

None of it was too complicated (beans simmered for 2 hours while I did other stuff), which is why I was able to get it all done.

And luckily there was some really lively, beautiful music on the radio to keep me going.

But I was ready to collapse afterward. And I did.

I write this not to brag (or #humblebrag) about being a whiz in the kitchen or having the energy of a four-year-old, but because I’ve previously promised to be open about the work it takes to eat & provide real, nutritious food. Especially, how to do it while working full-time outside the home.

Sometimes it means spending your Friday night in the kitchen rather than on the couch watching another episode of Battlestar Galactica. Ok, ok… Something more glamorous? … Substitute couch for going out to the movies or hitting the latest & greatest pub….

But I realize cooking on a Friday night is actually just my cup of tea. My new job is mentally & socially exhausting (how many meetings & conference calls today?!). Being an introvert, I have barely any words or thoughts left to share once I get home. So, an evening spent mostly alone in the kitchen (after T has gone to bed) is a good way to decompress, quietly & meditatively. It was a good way to close out the week & I’m already thinking if there are any kitchen projects I can tackle tonight…

But are snack bars & jello really “real & nutritious food”? Are they worth sacrificing a perfectly good Friday evening? As I also said previously (in the same post linked above), I am trying really hard to not be dogmatic about food.

So while these snacks are certainly homemade, yes, I can’t say that they’re as good as an apple or avocado. As far as snack foods, I think they’re pretty darn alright. And it’s all part of my plan to be prepared … for when T gets hungry on the road this weekend, for my late-night sugar cravings, for my mid-afternoon energy dip at work, for whatever. I’d rather fetch one of my homemade snack bars or gelatin cups than buy something less nutritious on the fly.

One Friday night = snacks for 2 weeks!

And it’s all way cheaper than a Lara bar from Whole Foods.

Speaking of, if you’ve ever been to Whole Foods, read Kelly MacLean’s hilarious take on “surviving” a trip there.

I shop at Whole Foods way too often & realize it’s just not a sustainable choice for my family. (Thankfully, my neighborhood will soon host a member-owned coop, which will be awesome & something I can totally get behind!) If I didn’t have T’s school tuition & law school loans & big city rent… well, then, maybe I could shop at Whole Foods with consumerist abandon.

But MacLean’s piece, while funny, makes this important point:

I skip [the gluten-free] aisle because I’m not rich enough to have dietary restrictions. Ever notice that you don’t meet poor people with special diet needs? A gluten intolerant house cleaner? A cab driver with Candida? Candida is what I call a rich, white person problem. You know you’ve really made it in this world when you get Candida.

Of course, it’s not entirely true. I know some decidedly-not-rich folks with celiac. But the point is well-taken. Some self-imposed restrictions are mere luxury.

And consider this thoughtful piece from chicken tender, which raises the issue of socioeconomics & real food in a touching & real way.

For example, she points out that while many of us uphold an ideal of food production & procurement, we simply can’t always attain that ideal for economic & logistical reasons. Of course, even Chandelle at chicken tender is luckier than most by virtue of the fact that she has ready access to local food producers. For those of us in urban areas, access is not so easy & it’s even more costly.

I’m still working out this balance of ideals & realities for my own family. As we work through this budget thing, I’m sure I’ll have plenty of thoughts, frustrations & ideas to bounce off of you all.

In the mean time, what’s your favorite Friday night activity (or chore) & how to you think about your food budget?

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