Maybe it was Paul Harvey’s “So God Made A Farmer.” which impacted my child. Or, perhaps it was weekends at the family farm in Troup, TX where his father rode horses as a child or maybe it was the Little People Playhouse Barn at his Grandmom’s house which planted the agricultural seed in Jack. At any rate, he loves the dirt. He told me proudly the other day, “You need a farmer three times a day” He is right.
This Summer Jack is working on Bundrick Farms as a hired hand. 40 hours a week. Just a week on the soybean farm and his neck is literally beet red. His nails are dirty and his Wranglers walk in on their own from his F-250 but he loves being outside. His hard physical work means that my cooking which takes a lax turn in the Summer has to be on point. I have to feed the farmer.
There is a holy food-provider calling for a farmer as well as a parent. Whether you are a Mom nursing a baby, a Dad nursing a sick child or even nursing a cold yourself, the little people look to you for nourishment. Even if your kids bring their kids home to visit. Inevitably I get a text requesting a list of breakfast items whenever I go home to my 75-year-old Mom’s home.
I think men may actually be better equipped for the family chef role because they don’t mount their self-esteem on the teeny-tiny whimsical palette of a four-year-old. It’s almost as if men don’t obsess about the child’s ever-changing preferences of Oreo Thins over Nutter Butter bites or something. They do not envision their child on a therapist’s couch as a result of buying orange juice with pulp. Men are amazing that way. At least mine is.
Perhaps my brain is bogged down with minutiae like which Apple Juice brand gives my child gas or the best way to time a toaster strudel icing-packet defrosting to coincide with the strudel being perfectly brown. Like our family data plan which is always ahem being used to capacity, my mind routinely hovers at the 96% used storage. Because of the Sumatra / French Roast gymnastics I work through while staring at the Keurig aisle.
My cart looks embarrasingly conflicted: Atkins bars for lo-carb John, fresh fruit, Greek yogurt for me (John Stamos brand because…ah…John Stamos) raisins and then whoa-look out: Mountain Dew, Swiss Cake Rolls, whole milk, pizza rolls, bar-be-que and cheese. I have to pack a farmer’s lunch for Jack, a balanced dinner for all of us to eat together and consider canine teeth, a hound doberman’s ear infections and treats to bribe a spastic black lab.
I finally gave up making the dog food from scratch for the little girls when I went back to work last Summer. The Chihuahuas have brittle teeth it turns out so I was actually making their soft food. It was cheaper that way. Now that I splurge on the Fresh Pet refrigerated log of dog food, every bagger in every Brookshire’s grocery store now looks at me like I am NUTS.
“Fragile teeth,” I lamely try to explain.
“Do you COOK this?” they ask. And I mumble some throw-away line like “No, the dogs do,” when what I really want to say is “There’s a $5 in it for you if you just quietly put the food in the bags, follow me out with them and squeeze them into my micro-car which I will have to rearrange my trunk crap for you to do so.”
When I arrive home and lug my carefully-selected bags of food into my home all I can think is “Thank you, God, for this food.The food means that there are people both furry and not as furry that I get to feed. I have money with which to buy food. I have people in my home who eat that I get to do life with. And even if I occasionally strike out with the off-brand meatball with something magically crunchy inside, we are here together to eat, pray, love and laugh.
After we lost Maggie Lee, going to the grocery store was a draining experience. I had all of her preferences stored in my brain and no longer any need for them. In the nearly seven years since, the sharp reality of incompleteness has softened as I consciously stare at the tremendous blessings I have left. I know what I have left is greater than what I have lost. I will always choose to look through that lens.
Good luck to all of us this Summer as we rise to the holy calling of feeding our families. Whether we have a fend-for-yourself policy, have to step up our game, are eating home-grown tomatoes or Captain Crunch for dinner. God made a farmer. Aren’t we glad?