Okay, I’ve done an entire week of work. So, that was hard. Oh right, I’m not done. Actually, I’m loving working—with other adults—for a great organization in a new role with a ton of potential. I like going in to work in the morning, I like putting in a full day and coming home. But I most definitely do not like the guilt! The great parental guilt of coming home to a child who would rather I’d arrived hours earlier to make him a meal, play with him and dote on him.
Leo actually seems pretty ready for this change. I think we’ll be fine. But still, when the trains are delayed and I know my guys are home holding dinner off till the last minute in hopes I will join them, it’s a sorry state of affairs. In the past year or so, I worked to carve out time for a family meal that we all looked forward to sharing most nights, and now I’m not even showing up in time. My schedule will settle down, and new routines will emerge, but I do mourn the loss of this given, stable ritual in our lives.
I’m also learning that you need a pretty serious lunch if you’re going to work at an office where you can’t just run to the kitchen and grab a handful of almonds, a banana or a glass of soy milk between tasks. So I’ve been focusing on planning ahead for lunches that are sustaining and sustainable (from a nutritional perspective) and lunchtime has been a high point. Knowing that Aaron and I are eating the same thing, at different desks in the same city, is a sweet little consolation.
Last weekend I made a huge pot of lentil and bulgur soup from food writer extraordinaire Melissa Clark’s book In the Kitchen with a Good Appetite (that, and her more recent Cook This Now are some fine holiday gifts for food-lovers, by the way). I jarred up the soups and bagged them with small whole wheat pitas, ready to grab and go. Then I marinated a big container of chickpeas, washed a ton of lettuce, grated carrots, sliced peppers and cukes, and made a few containers of naked salad ready to top with dressed chickpeas in the morning right before work. Finally, when we all got a horrible cold, I made a big batch of chicken soup and used some of the cooked chicken for a tasty salad.
What, aside from a great deal about the non-profit world, have I learned in my first week of work? A meaty chicken salad sandwich on 9-grain bread is a serious challenge to the 3pm blahs. And coming home just in time to read stories to a sweet little boy in pajamas is enough to defeat the 7pm blahs any night.
Zoe Singer is a freelance food writer and cookbook editor and co-author of The Flexitarian Table. Food Editor and blogger for The Faster Times, she tries not to eat for two now that her son is a toddler.