Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Cooking for Two

It's been a very long time since I've had to cook for only two people. Life has changed with the Boy moving out on his own, though he still comes up 2-3 times a week to see us, to have dinner or see a movie. It's nice.

Still. Most nights I'm cooking for two. We're feeling our way through this new phase in our lives, and in some ways it's like being newlyweds. If hubby wants to walk around naked after a shower, he can do that without peeking around the shower curtain to make sure the doors are closed. If I want to nap after work, no one is wondering when dinner will be on the table. In fact, if I don't want to cook, we'll eat a sandwich or something.

Though I prefer fresh food, there are some pretty cool new things out there for small families like ours. Tonight we had a dinner that was all in one bag. It was "restaurant quality" orange chicken, and honestly? It did taste like we had Chinese takeout (but much less expensive). In 10 minutes, I put microwave-steamed rice, orange chicken, and a side of corn on the table -- and I got my after work nap, too. Not bad.

I pointed out the convenience of this meal to my hubby and said, "I guess they're starting to cater to --"

"Old, childless people?" he chuckled.

"No, silly. Couples. Though they probably had young couples in mind...still works!"

While dinner was going, I popped an organic apple pie into the oven, so after dinner we had a steaming slice of that. Now we're relaxing with the dogs and our laptops. It's not a bad life.

I read a lot of your blogs, the ones of you with young children or teenagers, and I get to enjoy your children through your eyes. One of you I have met in person, getting to hold your children's hands; that was precious, truly. There is something so special about having the affection of a child. There was something wonderful about raising my own. But I thought I would have a harder time with the kids being gone. Turns out, it's not so bad.

Grocery shopping, certainly, is different. Meals are different. Laundry is very different. Sometimes hubby will run out of socks and I end up running a very small load, whereas before, we had tons of white socks and underwear to put into a single load a week. Our gas bill has dropped, as has our electric bill -- even with both of us working from our home offices right now. So many concrete changes.

And yet it is wonderful when our son comes to visit us every week. Last night he was in the area for his friend's birthday party, which coincided with their Tuesday night game night at Borders. We got there just as he was tearing into the presents and just before we all sang "Happy Birthday" to him. We shared a little bit of sweets with them and warmed ourselves with a coffee before venturing back out into the frigid wind. He didn't let us get away without his signature bear hugs, though. Unfazed by people watching, he gathered us each, in turn, into his big grasp. His friends at the tables, ranging in age from teenaged to middle-aged, smiled at us.

Only an hour had passed since I'd finished having a good, hard cry over my daughter. She had called twice yesterday: once sober, once...not so much. She's deeply in denial over her behavior and her situation. Things aren't going well, but I am learning, through my 12-step program, not to get in between her and her consequences. Until she hits rock bottom, she won't face what she's done to her life. She needs to be back on her meds, but she chooses to self-medicate instead. She is in hiding--from what, we don't exactly know. And every day my phone rings over and over with creditors calling, trying to track her down, and I can honestly say that I have no idea where she is. I really don't. I know what state she's in, but that's all I know. It's difficult to be her mother, never knowing if she's okay, never knowing where she is. The whole ugly story is so complicated, but it all boils down to mental illness. And there are some things only God can fix and that only God can lead her to.

So my son's hug felt particularly good to me. My tears had dried, and my hubby and I had shared a quick bite of soup and sandwiches at Panera Bread before going to Borders. I reveled in that big warm hug by a boy that makes his momma proud.

I'm still hurting from that phone call with my daughter, but life goes on. I'm in a new routine now. Work, gentle naps to keep the headaches at bay, dinner with my soulmate, quiet evenings enjoying our slower rhythms.

Cooking for two isn't bad at all.

Peace - D


Lavinia said...

Cooking for two 'isn't bad'? I'd say cooking for two sounds great! You know that is what I did for years, when it was just me and my daughter. Now add my dad and my dog into the mix and its cooking for four but the work and pressure seems to have more than doubled.

My daughter is at Church youth night once a week and on those nights, it goes back to cooking for two. My dad is satisfied on those nights with a hearty bean soup. Something my daughter would not let me get away with.

But enough about me! It's about you, and I must say, I like this glimpse into 'a day in the life' of Riverpoet. It sounds like you and hubby are easing into a very pleasurable stage of life, having the house all to yourselves and watching those utility bills go right down. Your son---what a gem. The kind of son every mother wants...loving and affectionate and appreciative.

Your daughter---what can I say. I would be exactly as you are, in your place. The icy fingers of fear forever gripping my heart, ready to squeeze and squeeze hard at any moment, or many moments throughout the day. I can only imagine your struggle to reconcile yourself to what is happening with her, and your hopes and fears for her, and your prayers. Mountains of prayer.

THere are so many facets to your life. I like your straightforward writing style and candour.

I add your daughter to my prayer (along with your sister who is already in there).

® ♫ The Brit ♪ ® said...

Good evening riverpoet! (evening here but I'm not sure if it is there!)
What a wonderful post full of feeling, love, happiness and sadness...
Cooking for 2 is wonderful! although I'm not usually the one doing the cooking here as my limit is to put a frozen meal in the oven! haha
It's so wonderful that you have such a loving Son that isn't afraid to show his love for his parents! I was the same with mine and still am with my Dad... Kiss and cuddle them every time I would see them and now whenever I speak to my Dad on the phone or Skype I always sign off with an "I Love You Dad!" My Mum always taught me to always show my love and even though my Dad is a man never to be afraid to give him a kiss.

I feel so sad for you about your Daughter... I can't imagine what pain you must be feeling and a terrible sense of desperation over her illness... I really hope that very soon she gets herself back onto the straight and narrow and gets better!
All the very best dear friend, Big Hug for you! x

Maggie May said...

Sorry about your daughter. I am sure with the right help, things will improve eventually...... lets hope & pray so.
Your situation is a new phase in life. I remember it well!
Some times, only sometimes..... I pick up a couple of ready meals from a supermarket that have been priced down because of the sell by date! They are really good in an emergency or if you feel you can't be bothered or you want something different..........
A bit salty by my standards but it doesn't matter once in a while!

SandyCarlson said...

God bless you and your husband, you re-newlyweds (not a word, but I tried! That sounds nice. It's great your son comes and goes. That sounds nice too. I am sorry about your daughter, but I am glad she phoned. That must be an awful struggle for her; what a blessing, though that you are at the other end of that phone. I hope she self-medicates with the love coming her way and feels the prayers of your friends--including the blogger ones--coming her way for a better life.

Sarah said...

My mom and I are in a fight right now and your post makes me all that much sadder about it. It's a long story with equal chances of angry and hope. Your son sounds like a sweetie, I hope my mom and I can be close again.

Employee No. 3699 said...

We've been doing the empty nest thing for almost a year. My son stops by alot, but for the most part it't just my husband and I for dinner, unless he's traveling; then it's dinner for one.

When I have time on a weekend, I'll cook an entire day and freeze everything in portions for easy meals when I don't feel like cooking for just one or two.

Big hugs from my children and grandchildren are always wonderful. I hope your daughter finds her path, but it is her path, not yours, and you can't lead her there. She has to do it for herself.

Take care and Big Giant ((Hugz)) to you.

Jay said...

So sorry you're having a hard time emotionally with your daughter. It is hard watching them make mistakes, especially from a distance.

You're right about the 'ready' meals though. We've started to do the same. I don't like cooking anyway, so it suits me - and yes, there are some very acceptable meals out there, especially if you're not too fussy! ;)

Akelamalu said...

No-one can hurts you or thrill you like your own children. Sorry your daughter is hurting you honey but your son thrills you doesn't he. xx

Leslie: said...

I'm cooking for one now that my daughter (who has bipolar 2) has moved out finally on her own. She seems to be doing okay because she's determined - finally - to stay on her meds. Maybe this is similar to what you're experiencing now. But it's only been a year and a half when I almost lost her to suicide. Even now I jump when she phones but she seems to be okay. So you're not alone in your worry but at least you have your husband to talk to. I go through this alone but with friends and my other daughter and two sisters for support. But that worry never will end and I often find myself wondering who will go first - me or her. It's so sad. Let's pray for each other and each other's daughters.

Not Afraid to Use It said...

I can give you some yummy just-for-two recipes. Seems that Hubbie and I are still in that mode. The kids get fed early, we put them to bed. Then, we get to eat. This situation has developed because of Hubbie's work schedule. It sucks in one regard, but it is nice sometimes to be able to have it just the two of us.

I am sorry about the phone call. I hope you are finding ways to see the good and keep yourself grounded.

Cloudia said...

Your life reads sweet. We'll pray for your daughter . . .. Aloha, Poetess

tysdaddy said...

I know you're a reader. Have you had a chance to read "Beautiful Boy" by David Sheff? I think you'd appreciate it, and perhaps even relate . . .

Daryl said...

Sounds like (except for your daughter) things are settling into a nice routine ... glad your mostly feeling good ... xo


Moannie said...

I've been 'cooking for two' for, let's see almost twenty years, since the last swallow left the nest for the last time. Now we are in a comfortable routine that borders on the blah! Nothing wrong with that, routine is good, you know what you are going to be doing at a specific time every single blooming day. You know what each other thinks, how they will respond and you are able to refrain from screaming because it would scare the dog.
No, I jest, I do really I do.
Now I just don't want that last, big suprise to come just yet awhile.

RiverPoet said...

Lavinia - Thank you for the prayers, my friend. My sister is going to be okay! I hope I posted a follow-up. Maybe I'll do that now...

Brit - Thanks! I can imagine that you and my son are very much alike. I appreciate your kind thoughts.

Maggie - Those ready meals can be lifesavers, can't they? And I'm sure my daughter will make it, though on par with my own standards.

SandyC - Re-newlyweds! I like it! And like you, I hope my daughter starts to come around to love and affection and not to substance abuse.

Sarah - I sincerely hope things work out between your mother and you. You'll be in my thoughts.

3699 - Cooking all day and freezing up some stuff does sound good. I might have to give that a go. And thanks for reiterating the fact that my daughter has to walk this path herself. Truly she does...

Jay - I, too, hate cooking unless it's baking. I love to bake because I love the sweet results. I am looking forward to spoiling everyone with food on Thanksgiving.

Akela - Yes, God has given me balance in that way.

Leslie - As I said in my private msg to you, I feel that pain, and may neither of us outlive our daughters.

NATUI - I'm counting on getting those recipes from you! And a rain check...

Cloudia - The prayers are always appreciated, my friend.

Tysdaddy/Brian - Thanks for the reminder. May pick that one up tonight. I almost bought it at Starbucks last year when it was there, but it slipped by me.

Daryl - Thank you! Reading is keeping me sane and busy.

Moannie - I pray you won't get that next big surprise for a while, too! I hope you get to enjoy your routine for a good long time more.

Peace all - D

Ruth D~ said...

Lots of wisdom, here. I found the hardest part of the empty nest was the lead up to it. But once it happened . . . not so bad at all. And the grocery shopping is a peace of cake. I have a bear hug boy, too. He comes home on weekends. A touch down occasionally daughter who maintains a bedroom here, and my first born who has been where your daughter is now. He's in a good place at the moment, but that phrase . . . don't get between hinm and his consequences . . . resonates. I'll make it a mantra.

Hilary said...

I'm glad that most of your life is feeling right for you. I'm sorry that things are tough for your daughter and hope that in time, she'll cope more productively. Those bear hugs are the greatest, eh? :)