Nothing overwhelms like the mundane when you are struggling through grief. At least that’s been my experience. Dishes and laundry and picking up the house are bad enough. But grocery shopping and meal planning are the worst.
I will give myself credit in that my kids are being cared for. Since losing my husband they have been on time to school every day they have gone. They have been bathed (as well as they usually are bathed), dressed in clean clothing, and well kept. They are fed each day and our home does not yet require an intervention from the show Hoarders—thanks in no small part to a few friends who have helped me clean this week. Laundry is getting done and they have even had clean sheet day several times.
But then there’s planning their food.
This has always been a struggle for me. I used to find joy in baking. Kraig was the one who liked to cook and so he did dinner prep at least three nights a week, sometimes more. I struggle with getting stuck in the same ruts—spaghetti, tacos, burgers and fries, hot dogs and mac n’ cheese, and the ever popular scrambled eggs.
Today was one of those days when I needed to go to the grocery store. We were out of some essentials and, truth be told, my kids have had frozen popcorn chicken, hot dogs, and left overs too often lately. So I tried. I really did. But the vast quantities of choices lining the shelves brought tears to my eyes. I felt like I was failing in this essential part of my job as mom and homemaker. What to make for dinner? I can’t even process what my to-do list should look like today.
I have a friend who has offered to sit down and help me with this chore. Our schedules just haven’t meshed yet. I need to take her up on the offer. I don’t like panicking in the produce aisle. I don’t like fighting tears as I look at boxes of hamburger helper and hear my health-food-conscious friends gasp from a distance. Yeah, I’m imagining it but the knowledge that this is now uncool is still there.
I’m doing OK in this process of grieving. But that assurance goes out the window as I step into Walmart to buy food. Nothing makes me feel so small, so lost, as trying to determine what is good for my kids to eat for dinner over the next five days. What is healthy? Who the heck knows anymore! What is easy for me to accomplish when I’m struggling to get organized, help with homework, get baths done, and fit in TV shows that they like to watch with me? What can I make that will have a minimum of complaints or will appeal to them as comforting? What can I make the one gluten-free kid if the rest of us have this? Argh.
So I came home with three meals, I think. Two are processed and I don’t care. I made it out of Walmart without crying and for today, that is a win.