Wednesday, February 24, 2010


3 : something established by authority, custom, or general consent as a model or example

I am finding again and again - even more than a month after my surgery - how humbling it is to be unable to care for my family in the way I desire. While I am extremely grateful to be feeling a bit better nearly every day, I still can't do laundry, sweep the floors and cook dinner all in the same day. I've found that even when I don't realize I'm doing too much, my body informs me the next day by providing a rope of fire along the tendons in my lower leg. I respond by resting, again.

Yesterday was a good case in point. I awoke with a plan to test myself on the treadmill for the first time. I had very humble ambitions - to walk a mere 1/4 of a mile or stop if my leg protested before that. Sounds reasonable, right?

I dressed accordingly, then noticed as I came down the stairs that my leg was tight. Not paying this much heed, I got the girls ready for school, all the while expecting my leg to loosen as I kept moving around. On the drive home from dropping the girls off at school, my leg tendons burned from merely depressing the accelerator. And so I resigned myself to another day of rest, another day without exercise, another day spent with my leg elevated. It's not all bad - I do have a good book I'm currently reading.

But I had wanted to cook dinner. I didn't have high ambitions here, either. Merely a pork loin cooked in the crockpot, along with some veggies. As the day wore on, my leg continued to complain about being used. So A and K ate left-over pasta for dinner while J, B and I had jalapeno pimento cheese sandwiches. This is not exactly what I had in mind.

As I sat my daughters down to eat their dinner, which they uniformly ate without one word of complaint, I mourned not meeting my own standards yet again. Because what I have established by custom, model and example is that I will cook a meal - from scratch - three or four times weekly. This meal will be well-balanced and will always, always include at least one vegetable.

We've been truly blessed to have tons of friends bring us meals over the last four weeks. Our entire family has appreciated trying new foods and having the surprise of seeing what we'll be eating that night. But I (and I suspect all of us) am ready for a return to something approximating normal. I'm ready to plan for and prepare our meals. Heck, I'm even willing to make family favorites. (My loving husband complains that my obsession with variety creates a long lapse between servings of favorite family dishes.) But my body won't quite cooperate.

So I'm left wondering whether I should lower my standards and whether temporarily lowering them will be detrimental to all of our expectations. If I start serving sandwiches on a weeknight for dinner, will we all be satisfied with less than stellar food offerings? If I bend my self-imposed rules and get take out weekly until I feel better will my girls begin to prefer someone else's food to my own? I guess what I ultimately worry is that if I lower my standards now, will I ever be able to get them back up to where I want them?

I try to remind my inner legalist to offer myself a bit of grace. These standards are, after all, self-imposed. I set these standards because I love cooking for my family, I love offering them healthy food and I love expending some creative energy in the kitchen. And none of those things will change, no matter what standards I fail to meet.


aimee Guest said...

The treadmill!!!
My dear, dear shannon what a test this has been for you. What you had before-all that you gave your family, will come back. Wait. Savor what you can in these days just the way they are. There might be more treasures than you think before life gets back to "normal". In the meantime, have Jason walk on the treadmill for you while you read a book.

rufusjt said...

I guess I can walk on the treadmill in lieu of Word Girl. At least then I can work off the bowl of buttered popcorn I served myself for dinner one night.

The kids will play while mom is away!...or, recovering from surgery on her leg. Dinner misbehavior is as crazy as I get...