Life continues to surprise me in happy ways since I’ve returned from my solo winter in Florida. One of the things that I particularly notice that makes my life easier is my approach to dinner. Before Florida, once a week I spent an hour going through my collection of cookbooks, making out a weekly menu of meals. At the same time, I wrote down any items I needed for each dinner on a page-long shopping list.
This made me feel like a good wife, even though half the time, Al would not be home in time for dinner. He might unexpectedly work late. Or the gym had been very crowded. Perhaps Hall Road was a parking lot due to construction work. Even if Al was home, he’d rarely come to the table when the meal was ready. He was “just finishing” something on the computer or in the garage. Often, I’d be done with my meal before he even sat down. It irritated me. After all, I put work into making a nice dinner. Why was it so difficult for him to sit down to eat with me?
All that changed in Florida. I didn’t consult cookbooks, I didn’t formulate a weekly menu, and sometimes I didn’t even have a list. I just went into the grocery store and bought what was fresh and appealed to me in the moment. I ate when I was hungry and sometimes had Cherrios for dinner. Or I’d add lots of fresh fruit to yogurt and sprinkle nuts on top. I’d have salad with chopped chicken and tomatoes. My tastes, when they’re just about me, are pretty simple.
When I came home to Michigan, I kept meaning to pick up where I’d left off with the menu planning and the overflowing grocery cart, but it didn’t happen. These days I jot quick lists for 2-3 dinners and continue to eat the Florida way when I feel like it. I make the two or three meals a week, but if Al is late or I’m not hungry, cooked food goes into the fridge. Now that he has learned to serve himself while I was in Florida, he’s more than happy to put a plate together and pop it in the microwave. This is embarrassing but, before Florida, I used to make a plate and heat it up for him when he came home late. I’d even bring it to the table and set it before him. It was part of that wacky good wife thing.
Since I’m not eating those dinners every night, there are more leftovers and no need for the chore of daily cooking. Because he had to shop and cook on his own while I was away, not to mention clean house and do laundry, Al has no problem eating my leftovers. What has stayed with me from Florida aside from a more relaxed attitude toward menus and shopping is that my idea of what it means to be a good wife has undergone some serious revision. And that makes me pretty happy.