Wednesday, January 02, 2008

Glad to start a new year mealtime blues


I successfully cooked three large dinners on the holidays: Thanksgiving, Mom's b-day and Christmas. I always think I won't be able to carry off a dinner, but I did. Then I proceeded to completely ruin two meals last week. To restore my faith in my cooking self, I baked cookies y'day and roasted a chicken, something I have confidence that I can do.

I would like to eat the main meal at noon but can't convince Mom to do that. It's the auyervedic way-- to give you energy during the day when you need it and also to give your stomach time to digest the food during the day rather than at night when you sleep. I have eaten that way for several years until I came here to stay 3 months ago. It works very well for my bodily system.

Meanwhile Mom goes to bed as soon as dinner is over. That would be about 5pm. Dinner is at 5pm by mutual agreement though for years she made Dad eat at 4pm(her preference). She eats a dabble of yogurt for lunch and then is starving by 4pm and pacing back and forth while I cook. "My diabetes requires that I eat now," she says. If the meal is one I know will only take me a short time, and I work on the computer after 4pm she wheels her squeaky walker past me, and I swear shakes it so the thing thumps, like it's saying get a move on, I'm hungry.

Cooking time has become difficult for me. I anticipate her restlessness and my stomach gets all in knots. Those of us who had children may recall something similar when the kids were little and hungry and you just got back from work and are trying to cook and feed the cats etc all at the same time. Mom reminds me of a little kid in this respect. Like is she afraid I'll not feed her and leave her to starve and have a diabetic attack???

Of course, on one level I understand her anxiety around meals. She was the eldest daughter of 13 children, had lots of responsibilities around sibling care at a young age. They were very poor so hungry a lot of the time. Mealtime holds a lot of "stuff" to it for her I think from those early years.

Not sure what the resolution to this is though I know it lies with me. Somehow I just need to continue cooking and not get hooked into anxiety around Mom's anxiety. But sometimes I feel I'm purposely dawdling around the cooking (although the meal has never been later than 5pm, I know mom hopes I will get it done early and sometimes it does cook itself to completion earlier however some of that is in my control and some is in the stove, pan, meat or whatever)because I do not like to be "pressured" by another person to perform in some certain way or in some certain time-frame.

Mom was once a nurse and I've noticed nurses seem to do things by the clock. As opposed to realizing that the flow of life has its own time frame. For our holiday meals, a couple times they did take about 15 minutes longer than the one o'clock time I suggested. There is no "ish" in Mom's mind. No oneish for the meal. It is one or else you are considered to be "late."

I spent a lot of years trying to rework my clock oriented self and allow myself to listen to my and the universes inner time flow and so I guess it grates to be set up against a mind that expects things to happen by a schedule as opposed to-- we try for the schedule as a framework but life and other things sometimes results in the schedule being different from the one we THOUGHT would work.

I know Im rambling and also this may not be an upbeat topic for the new year however this has been on my mind so I have done this "diary" post to get it off my mind.

8 comments:

ANDREA said...

Hi Suki, I find it so very intersting to read your posts. Always very contemplative, oberservant and non-judging.
I love your posts. This one makes me think : how do we manage to cope with each other's habits, bad or not. I wonder. Funny cause my husband is a bit like your mom (lol) and has adopted very "unayurvedic" :) eating-systems:)
It takes a lot of time; good will and energy to change these...(if they can be changed ever)
Have a wonderful day, the second in this year!
Andrea

Cris in Oregon said...

Ah yes Habits..My hubby has some eating habits that drive me crazy too now that he is home all the time. & my Moms habits used to drive me crazy. I guess we all march to our own inner being so to speak. Maybe you ought to try some of Rachel Rays 30 minute meals. maybe that would help matters around dinner time. Not that I am a Rachel Ray fan but 30 minutes cooking time isnt to bad. And also it feels like time stands still when someone is trying to hurry you. Every move you make seems to be in exaggerated s l o w motion. Grin

Cris in Oregon said...

Oh I forgot to mention your cookies.. Yumm. those look good. I almost made some yesterday. I was thinking oatmeal chocolate chip.

Mary Richmond said...

This hits home with me because I'm often doing something engaging when someone else wants me to be doing something for them. What if you made her meal at noon when you feel like it and then she can just heat it up? It's funny, so many older people really like their big meal at noon. Too bad she's not one of them! Good luck! You know what they say about old dogs....it's true of old parents, too! Hard to teach them new tricks!

human being said...

I remember my grandma fussing much about meals sometimes...
And I understand your feeling when you say you don't like to be pushed.. I'm of the same type.. it makes me nervous ... Because of the push I cannot enjoy what I'm doing... it becomes just a duty to be done...
This is very nice you talk about what you have on you mind ... Usually they are ours , too. Then by sharing we learn together and the burden my be lifted...
I feel I'm lighter...

sukipoet said...

thanks for your reflections Andrea. I do think eating habits and food is/are a big thing between people. If I were a sociologist that's what i would study. Eating habits across the world and emotional stuff around eating etc. I don't imagine I can change my mom at 90 yo or even anyone . I think the only person whose eating habits i have control of is mine.

Thanks for your empathy Cris. I had to laugh at your Rachel Ray suggestion. A couple years ago I watched her a lot. Now, I am tired of seeing her face on cracker boxes and so forth. Some of my meals are 30 minutes, some an hour but if a vegetarian dish then even longer with the chopping of veggies. Since mom only eats about 2/3 cup full of whatever I cook, even a 30 minute meal seems like a waster of energy. I know I have to eat too but just for myself I'm more casual about the matter. Still, This is my job here, to cook. So I shall.

Mary, making the meal at noon, when I am less tired and cranky myself, is a good idea. I may try that. Then I could eat it, and just have a sandwich at dinner and she could heat it up at 4 when she wants.

Thanks human being for your reflection on my "diary" post. It is good to have a way to talk about some of the things I'm going through. All this is esp interesting as it's with my mom, who for years I viewed as bossy, demanding, critical, cold and unfeeling. Now she is meek, undemanding for the most part, says hardly ten words a day and doesnt want to say more nor hear more than ten words from me, and seems less cold and rejecting of me as I am(except for the talking part). So I guess it's a blessing she lived long enough for my view of her to change and for her to change too in the way she is with me.

human being said...

Wow! How beautifully you're observing this... Think in this way, we can forgive more easily...

Suki, I really love you...

Lynn said...

Yes, I remember when my kids were small and I had to get dinner on the table for them not to whine, When do we eat? What's for dinner?
May I suggest:
1) having some suitable snack food for mom to nibble on while you are cooking dinner (cheese? some other form of protein? nuts? )
2) cooking in a crock pot so you can prepare it the night before or in the morning and then she can eat when she wants at four and you earlier at noon as you suggested?

How I remember caring for my mother when she lived with us the year before she died. How impatient I could be at times, how resentful sometimes of my time being stolen (I thought) by her needs. It was hard, not easy...
I hope I learned from it. I hope it taught me some patience. I hope my daughter does better with me than I did with her. Sorry mom. Sorry.