By Debbie Koenig
I learned a long time ago that if I’m going to maintain my weight loss, I need a certain amount of routine in my life. I need to be able to plan ahead, to know what’s coming, at least in a baseline sort of way—I can roll with the punches, as long as my underpinnings feel solid. Lately, those underpinnings have felt more like sand.
First, my husband’s job took over our lives. He works in documentary production, and one time-sensitive project turned out to be a beast. For part of February and most of March, he worked 10- to 12-hour days, including weekends. If we saw him before 8 p.m. it was cause for celebration. Some nights he’d be stuck at the office after midnight. Obviously, it was rough on him.
But it was also hard for me and our son. I became a short-term single mom, except it took me a while to realize it. Junior is such a frustratingly picky eater that when my husband’s not home for dinner, I generally don’t try very hard. I let my son cook a hot dog or mini-pizza for himself, and scrounge my own meal. Sometimes that means I’ll eat a salad, but more often it involves nibbling on snack food and calling it dinner. It definitely doesn’t involve cooking. On an occasional night this is perfectly fine, but after the first week of our upheaval I realized I was gaining weight, and junior wasn’t looking too healthy either.
I called a mini-meeting with my son, to make sure he understood that what we’d been doing was about to end. Together we drew up a list of whole-foods-based dinners we’d both be happy to eat—things like grilled chicken breasts, omelets, roast (or rotisserie) chicken, and chicken noodle soup. Yes, lots of chicken. I began to cook again, keeping things very simple, and he and I resumed the routine we usually follow when everyone’s home for dinner: Junior sets and clears the table, and I cook. Usually my husband does the dishes, so the kid and I shared that duty.
We’d gotten into a nice groove when the next upheaval struck. Our apartment building’s roof sprang a leak during a snowstorm. Melting snow trickled down through the two floors above ours, eventually raining through the acoustical tiles of our kitchen ceiling. Part of the ceiling collapsed. The landlady sent roofers to assess things, but they weren’t able to fix it before the next storm. I wound up affixing plastic drop cloths to the framework of the acoustical tile, then gathering it into a giant funnel into a tall garbage can to catch the flood. That worked well, but left the kitchen mostly unusable. A third snowstorm followed soon after. We picnicked in the living room for about ten days, mostly relying on a freezer stash of leftovers and packaged salads.
Repairs still haven’t happened, so I’ve left the drop cloths in place in case it rains—you can see in the picture above how I gathered them off to the side, so at least we can use most of the kitchen now. I’m back to cooking and eating more routinely again.
But now we’re apartment hunting, which means yet another upheaval is coming. At least a move involves planning, so I’ll have a teeny bit of solid ground beneath me.
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