Hello, Lunch.Posted: June 6, 2012
For almost a year now, I’ve been packing Max up and sending her off on Mondays to our dear friend Shirley’s house. They spend the day together–going to the park and playing with water and generally following the whims of Max’s toddler heart–and John and I spend the day working, he at the restaurant and I at various internships.
Without fail, Monday mornings I find myself feeling grateful. The gift that Shirley has given us is like a nesting doll. At first glance it is the gift of child care, but when you start peeling back the layers you realize that she’s really giving us so much more. She is facilitating our financial stability by helping John work, she is helping me start my career by enabling these intern days spent learning and trying and discovering, and she is showing Max the kind of love we’d expect to get from her grandparents if we lived close enough and are astonished and humbled to have found outside of bloodlines.
This isn’t a post about Shirley, though. It’s a post about lunch. See, every Monday I carefully assemble Max’s food for the day. I want to send her off for her adventure days with a hearty lunch box of fuel to turn to. She invariably comes home with most of it not eaten (I think she’s pretty good at convincing her Shirley to treat her to cookies and bagels and the like…the kid’s pretty charming, if I do say so myself), but in the early morning light when I’m putting everything together, it feels so good to tend to my baby in this fashion.
For the better part of the year, I’d put all of this care into Max’s lunch and then grab a few handfuls of something for myself on my way out the door. A banana and an orange, say, or some pretzels. And then one morning, it struck me that this was a ridiculous practice. If Max is worth the time and thought it takes to gather together a good lunch, then so am I. Yes, that means I spend more time on making lunches, but it also means that come midday when my eyes are tired from staring at computer screens and my brain is humming with work thoughts, I get to step into the oasis that is a well-made meal. Just as Max deserves a midday reminder that she is loved and cared for, so do I.
I haven’t looked back since. I’ve started to love making my lunch. Yesterday’s was a salad in a jar (dressing on the bottom and carrots in next to keep everything fresh!), with a sliced up blood orange (because I am a two year old at heart and still totally believe that sliced up oranges are somehow superior to their peeled counterparts), and a mixture of dried fruit and cereal. It is a lunch that takes time to eat, munching through salad and such, and it is a lunch that leaves me energized and satisfied when I’m finished, ready to tackle the rest of the day. Max has decorated my lunch bag, just like my brother and I used to do for our dad when we were kids, and when I see her little scribbles in the middle of the day, I am given that extra boost that comes from remembering who I am working for in my heart of hearts and throws everything else into perspective.