This afternoon as my workday came to a close, I catalogued through my mental Rolodex of dinner ideas. I thought about the kitchen staples I had on hand and decided that Caprese chicken with fresh basil and sundried tomatoes sounded amazing. I knew I had two chicken breasts in the fridge but would need to stop at H-E-B for a few key ingredients: smoked provolone and fresh basil.
On Thursdays the dinner table is pretty quiet. Liam has gymnastics and his grandparents usually take him to dinner afterwards. Sean rarely eats with us during the week because he’s either still at work or at the gym. With half of the bears in our den missing for dinner tonight, I knew I’d enjoy the leftovers for lunch tomorrow.
With Atticus underfoot playing with an assortment of bowls and lids, I started gathering the ingredients on the island in preparation for dinner. I preheated the oven to 400 degrees and a drizzled olive oil in a Pyrex baking dish. Then I opened up the chicken breast to start prepping the meat and immediately realized something was amiss. An icky stench filled my nostrils and my heart sank. In the few days since I’d purchased the chicken, it had spoiled. The sell by date clearly stated 1/25, and yet it was clear the poultry was past it’s prime.
I quickly tried to recover as I considered other potential dinner options. But with my muse past her prime, I decided on the next best thing. When all else fails, order takeout. I called our neighborhood Chinese food restaurant and ordered vegetable Lo Mein, an order of General Tso’s chicken, and chicken with mixed vegetables. Less than thirty minutes later, the doorbell rang and just like that my dinner dilemma was remedied. Sometimes fixing a problem, really is that simple.
Atticus absolutely loves Lo Mein. It truly is a sight to see watching an adorable 14 month old picking up the slimy noodles and slurping them up with gusto and joy. Over all, he’s a pretty good eater. He especially loves the broccoli included in the Lo Mein and is quite a fan of the peas and carrots in fried rice too.
Another perk of Chinese takeout comes from an insightful fortune. Opening our fortune cookies provided exactly the right amount of wisdom for this Mama Bear to consider as I cleaned up and boxed the leftovers.
Appropriately, Atticus’s fortune cookie stated, “Be yourself and you’ll feel at home anywhere.” Truer words were never spoken especially when you reflect on its meaning through the eyes of a child. In their naivety, they lack the ability to be self-conscious. If only we were all so lucky to never have to outgrow this one. To be able to let our hair down and not fixate on what others think about us.
Although our self-awareness as adults is significantly different than that of our little ones, we can just as easily circle back to being ourselves. True to the adage, “Be yourself, everyone else is taken,” maybe we need to worry less about what others think. In the end, it really isn’t worth the stress. If someone doesn’t like us for who we are, then they probably don’t really need to be a part of our inner circle anyway.
For a Mama Bear, nothing could be more poignant or telling than, “Love yourself first and everything else falls into line.” How often do we forget this one as we put the needs of our spouse or children before our own? While we carry out these selfless acts of love day in and day out, we need to remember how important self-care is for our own well-being and ultimately the well-being of everyone else in our family. This is why I honed in on doing one thing every day for yourself in my last post.
In these quiet, little moments for ourselves, we’re making the time to love ourselves first. You know as well as I do that we don’t have more than a few minutes of quiet in any given day, especially when you have young children. But remember that quality traditionally outweighs quantity. If we allow ourselves just a few moments every day, over time the pay off will be exponential. Carve out time for solitude even if that solitude can only be achieved when you lock yourself in the bathroom briefly and close your eyes and slowly count to twenty. Cherish these small moments of “you” time. When our children graduate from high school and head off to college, we’ll have more time than we know what to do with. But those moments can take their time. I’m certainly not ready for that anytime soon. In the meantime, I’ll take what I can get when I can get it and trust that less is more, at least for now!