Friday, April 20, 2012

Channeling My Childhood

Second post today, stuck at home and thinking...

Something came to me the other day.

When I was a kid, an only child, my parents and I went out to eat a *lot.* When my mom took me out, it was often McDonald's or an ice cream shop or some kind of buffet. When my Dad took me out, it was a diner or some other 'home cooking' kind of place, or the back room of a bar that served steaks and shrimp in the evenings. And when we all went out together, we usually went to fancy places. I was allowed to pick anything I wanted from the menu and usually included an appetizer and desserts as well as a soda. This is how I grew up, in a middle class family where we didn't have a second car, but we went out to eat several times a week.

As an adult, my restaurant visits were rare except for fast food. Since swearing off fast food a couple years ago, I've found myself more and more in sit-down restaurants with my daughter, not every week, but often. Last week when we were out, I sat there eating my food and suddenly thought, "there is nothing we are eating that I couldn't make at home. Why am I here?" And I actually had a bit of an epiphany.

Why do I like to go out to eat? Like many of my habits, it's not about the food. I can make better food at home most of the time, since we aren't eating anywhere gourmet. And I *like* to cook. I enjoy chopping and prepping and seasoning a dish to perfection. I like making a recipe healthier by adding veggies or cutting fat and carbs. It's fun. But I *want* to go out to eat. I would do it every day if I could. Why?

Suddenly it hit me as I sat in the restaurant with my daughter. The actual *environment* of a restaurant is very comforting to me. Sitting in a booth, looking at menus, listening to the chatter around me, sipping ice water while we wait for our food, even asking for a box at the end of the meal... all of it is like taking a little trip back in time, sitting in that familiar place with my parents. So many hours upon hours of my childhood were spent here. It IS like going home for me, and since there is no home nor parents for me to actually go home to, it is about as close as I can get to spending a few hours 'back there.' Really. As always, it's not about the food.

Ten years ago I planted a mimosa tree in my yard. When it died shortly afterward, I pulled it up and planted another one. When vandals yanked it up and broke it in two, I planted another one. Finally, the third one took, and now I have a large mimosa tree in my yard that grows fuzzy pink blossoms every summer. Whenever I look out my window and see it, I smile. I remember the mimosa tree outside my window as a child. This tree I planted is probably the one thing in and around my home that brings me the most happiness... just by being there.
What are the other things that remind me of my parents, my childhood? What things *aside from* butter pecan ice cream, hot dogs, and Reuben sandwiches... what nonfood things... give me that going-home feeling of comfort?

red tulips
long-haired cats
maple trees
Scrabble
Patsy Cline
daisies in a vase
swimming
playing Frisbee
bowling
lilac bushes
cloth handkerchiefs
record players

I made my list. I looked it over. And now I see real, *healthy* ways I can channel my childhood and my parents into my life to give me comfort. It doesn't have to be their favorite foods or going out to eat or smoking or drinking or gambling at the racetrack or being a religious zealot. I can bring the happy moments of my childhood into my life, into my child's life, in other, truer ways, just like planting that tree. And I am going to spend more time on doing that, and less trying to find it in restaurants.

7 comments:

Anonymous said...

lilac bushes/lilacs in general always remind me of my mother! She is alive and well but it really brings me back to my childhood and more innocent time.

-c.a.h.

16 blessings'mom said...

Lilacs! My mother's favorite! She passed away five years ago, and lilacs always remind me of her, and of childhood. I just want to say that I love your blog. "Food pushers"...I hate them! Sometimes my own kids push things, or put something yummy on my table and laugh, and I throw it at them! But it is not funny! It hard enough to avoid eating yummy things sometimes..okay, all the time, but when Evelyn puts a peanut butter egg on the arm of my chair...rrr!!!

I totally get it about recreating those warm feelings of growing up. We didn't go to restaurants, but back when candy bars were a dime a piece, my dad would send one of my brothers up to the store for a bunch of them...it was so much fun to pick one out. For us, payday was Good Food day. Gradually the good stuff would get eaten, and we would look forward to the next Payday to have yummy food in the house again...so many things to get un-entangled from!!!

Thank you for sharing, and hang in there, dear. You can do this!!!

Della

Anonymous said...

That is sweet. You can plant some tulip bulbs in your yard too.

Miss_Understood said...

Beautifully written. One of the most difficult things I have learned since my surgery, is that I cannot consume a moment by mouth to hold on to it! Memories are absorbed in our hearts. It's a whole new world for us as we relearn....to walk again, unaided by the mass food.

Thanks for sharing with all of us!

Peace,
Miss Understood

Kathleen said...

Lyn, you make such a good point about restaurants. I have had the same thought: “I can make this or better at home. Why am I even here?” So now I only go out to eat for Indian, Thai or Ethiopian food – things that I cannot recreate well in my home. I still go out to eat 3 or 4 times a month, and I enjoy it immensely. I will never give it up – I don't think I want to! The advantages are: you don't have to cook, you don't have to clean, you can enjoy dishes you can't make at home, the variety is tempting and being waited on is very satisfying emotionally (especially if you are a person who spends a lot of time waiting on others – like you do, Lyn, I know you spend so much time looking after your family!). The disadvantages are: you don't know what they are doing in the kitchen, so you never truly know the calorie content, and – of course – spending the money. I am glad dieting and being thin has not cut the joy of going to restaurants from my life – a lot of people think they have to sacrifice this for health, but that is not the case. Great post!

Just me said...

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Anonymous said...

Just loved this post!
m/b