Better a Bowl of Kraft Mac & Cheese Where Love Is…

A few days ago, I came across this great post at The Power of Moms: it’s about how your children want and need you–not Pinterest-perfect meals, home decor, and crafts:

“Can we remind each other that it is our uniqueness and love that our children long for? It is our voices. Our smiles. Our jiggly tummies. Of course we want to learn, improve, exercise, cook better, make our homes lovelier, and provide beautiful experiences for our children, but at the end of the day, our children don’t want a discouraged, stressed-out mom who is wishing she were someone else.”

Or, I would add, snapping at her husband and/or kids because of her stressed-out perfectionism, which happens around here more often than I would like to admit.

I want to be the mom who makes perfectly nourishing chicken soup when my kids are sick:

and perfectly cozy, adorable blankets with their names on them:

and tasty, diverse foods:

veggie sushi with yummy plum powder from Japan (thanks, Susan!)

But more than anything, I want to be the mom who is close to her kids, who lets them know in thousands of ways that they are loved and they are safe in the world, that they are beautiful and so, so precious.

The other day when I was making the empty tomb cake, I found myself ready to snap at the children for (understandably) swiping bits of frosting and hovering around me as I assembled and decorated the cake. I had, in my mind, a Pinterest-perfect picture of how I wanted it to look. And so when I pulled out the bag of candy rocks, I wanted to be the one to put each one perfectly in place.

Okay, guys, you can each put on five rocks. And then I want you to let me do the rest.

But then I started to feel as if I’d eaten too many candy rocks and they were gathering in my stomach. And so I had a little talk with myself–what is this all about, anyway?–and handed them the bag.

Go wild, guys. Just decorate it up.

Anne Lamott, who’s one of my very favorite writers, has this great piece up at the O magazine. She talks about how her parents read Julia Child and served up world-class cassoulet, chutneys, and mole poblano, but hated each other with a silent, stuffed-down anger. On the other hand, her friends’ families served up “aggressively modest” food like English muffin pizza and tuna noodle casserole, which was delicious to her because of the spiritual food–the love–that went with it.

She writes:

the steamed persimmon pudding was easy on the taste buds but hard to swallow, because it came at such a cost: a lump in the throat, anxiety in our bellies.”

Proverbs 15:17 sums this bit of insight well:

A bowl of vegetables with someone you love is better than steak with someone you hate. (NLT)

or, if you like:

Better a bread crust shared in love than a slab of prime rib served in hate. (MSG–other translations here.)

And so while I value good, wholesome food that’s been raised responsibly and prepared well–and while I think that this can be a tangible (edible?) way of loving other people, especially my family–why, I still think the essential ingredient is love.
And, of course, joy.
The other day I was rolling fresh pasta and started to get really ticked at the boys because they were doing all sorts of normal and age-appropriate things like sticking their fingers in the gears and generally getting in the way, and I thought:
Better I should buy some Ronzoni than snap at my kids because I’m stressed about fresh pasta.
Better a bowl of Kraft Mac & Cheese where love is, than a Gratin Dauphinois with grumbling.
Better to order in a pizza than spend all your time hand-stretching foccacia and having no time to play Candy Land.
What other “better a _____ than ______?” would you add?
(tech stuff: C77ZZVJT65E5)

7 thoughts on “Better a Bowl of Kraft Mac & Cheese Where Love Is…

  1. How about: Better a group of friends at a pizza parlor than a bunch of stuffed shirts at a 4 star restaurant. I’ve been in both settings and definitely like the first one better.

    Handing your kids the back of rocks sounds beautiful, Rachel, that you really redeemed the moment. Nice momming, there!

    Tim

  2. Rachael, I’ve loved reading your posts. Keep up the insightful culinary reflections! “Better a fun (if greasy) family outing to Old Country Buffet than a bitter 4 hours of cooking a masterpiece your 7 year old will hate!”

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