Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Additional commitments

At the end of last summer, a friend with whom I once worked in the hospital called me. She was going to give a series of lectures about healthy nutrition in a school in my neighbourhood, but as it turned out, the distance is too great for her; won't I do it instead?

Go for it, said my husband. Several lectures throughout an entire school year, what can happen? You will have ample time to prepare, and it will be so much fun. As for watching over the girls, you can always offer one of your friends to swap-babysit for them for a couple of hours. And so began my project.

I soon felt that I entered this commitment all too light-headedly. Lecture preparation was easy enough, but there were also reports to write, phone calls back and forth with the school administration and the supervisors, pressure from said supervisors to take on another school - something I'm glad I didn't give in to, despite being asked, because I really found I couldn't spare the time.

Then there was the matter of my entire goal. Did what I do really matter? The children were enthusiastic and I hoped that were learning something, but all in all, I believed that when aiming to improve lifestyle, it is much more natural and effective to work with families, not children alone. I'm not saying speaking directly to children is useless, but ultimately, they are not the ones to decide what and when will be eaten at home.

I was not about to voice my opinions aloud, but I believed, as I still do, that the problem of today's atrocious nutrition habits started with the annihilation of the family table, and the disappearance of the vital tradition of taking meals together at least once a day. I have already written several posts where I voiced my frustration over being unable to switch entirely to organic, home-grown, home-raised, whole-grain, etc - but even simply cooking from scratch from simple basic supermarket products, and sitting down to regular meals would, I am sure, eliminate over half of all the problems people are trying to combat with diet pills and school drills.

As more and more women began to spend less and less time outside the home, naturally, there was less time for home-cooked meals. I know someone here (as it usually happens) will step up and say that it is possible to have two parents working full-time outside the home, and still provide wholesome regular meals. It is possible, but it requires exertion not everyone can be up to. I will go farther and say that after a day spent at work, there might also come sense of entitlement. I just spent nine hours at the office, why should I stand up like some drudge and cook? Let someone else do that for a change.

I'm not saying it always happens, I'm not laying down rules, and I really and truly don't pretend to have all the answers, or even any at all. But this, I hope I may be allowed to say - a mother at home, if the circumstances are favorable, provides the basis for rich, satisfying home life nothing else can make.


Kate said...

As a Registered Dietitian in the US, Amen sister, AMEN.

SBCE said...

I'm glad to read your comment about "cooking from scratch from simple basic supermarket products"

Now that I'm a "retired" career woman with a few years of cooking under my belt I'm realizing how much I don't know about nutrition. All that information out there about "organic, home-grown, home raised, whole grain" can be very bewildering. Advice from others (usually offered without my asking for it!) can likewise be bewildering.

I home cook all of our suppers, and cook lunches of chili or soup as my husband likes to take that to work.

Moral support for doing the best I can is appreciated!

Lady Anne said...

Anna, you really do need to reach the children. American schools don't teach what was called Home Economics when I was a student, and most of the girls who gradute can barely sew on a button, never mind actually make a meal.

I sometimes teach basic cooking at a local shelter for homeless families. A lot of the residents are young women escaping a violent situation, and they are just lost. They don't even know how to cook oatmeal! To these young ladies, a "homecooked" pizza is one they buy frozen and bake at home, rather than calling for Pizza Hut to deliver.

When I show them how to roast a chicken, then make a cold sliced platter, chicken a la king, and finally a pot of soup, they are astounded. Soup? It doesn't come from a can? Wonder of wonders!

No wonder they work in officees. They aren't fit to keep house. (Oh, meow!)

Leanne said...

Lady Anne - I think it is great that you offer your skills to teach cooking at the homeless shelter. I understand your astonishment; we used to provide a meal at our church that was mostly attended by kids who came to our Wednesday night programs, and I was completely shocked when one of them saw a fresh veggie tray and said with big eyes, "I've only seen vegetables look like this on tv!!" However, your tone comes across a bit harsh and condescending. Be thankful that you have the privilege of being a part of breaking the cycle of violence, poor health and poverty in the lives of these women.

As someone who currently works in an office [and is fully capable of cooking a nutritious meal from scratch!], I find your last comment to be a bit mean-spirited as well. I would much rather be at home, but for now, we need the income that my office job provides. I could whine and moan about it, but I would rather just work on keeping a positive attitude until I am able to cut back on my hours outside of the home. No, my home does not always look as organized as I would like it to look, as my husband and I both work full time - but I am thankful that our incomes provide a roof over our head AND that nutritious food that we are both able to make into delicious and unprocessed meals!!!