David is in Vegas and then, LA on business. It's just me and the kids and a long expanse of togetherness. I like all the girly togetherness, so that's fine with me, but last night while hiking the kids through our neighborhood Duane Reade (the drug store for you non-New Yorkers), I walked past a shelf of Kraft Macaroni & Cheese Dinner boxes. Nice blue and yellow boxes. I stopped.
And that's when my mind started having a conversation without me:
David's out of town. No one has to know. The kids will love me for this. One pan, virtually no clean up. A one dish dinner in minutes. $3. Dinner for $3. The box says it's the cheesiest. I know it's not really cheesy but still, it says it's the cheesiest. It must be a little cheesy. There's got to be some cheese in it. But cheese-schmeeze, who cares anyway? My kids eat from-scratch meals all the time. They are the healthiest kids on the planet, why Edie hasn't had a fever in two years. I'm awesome. I rock. I made my own damned bacon, for Christ sakes. People who make their own bacon can feed their kids the box once in a while, right? No need to become one of those brittle pedigogical psychos who never let their kids have a Tic Tac. Oh My God, I have this huge stain on the front of my shirt. How the hell long has that been there? One night of crap isn't going to kill them. That's right, and they are gonna think you are the coolest mom ever for this. The coolest. For 3 bucks! And on Mother's Day. After they made you those cute cards with feathers and pom pom balls and all those hearts. There were so many freakin' hearts. Seriously, I can't go out anymore with stains on my tits, I look like I'm breastfeeding. They DESERVE to eat the crap this once. That's why you're such a great mom, you're flexible, open to anything, a revolutionary, not stuck in a grind or an ideology. You are bigger than ideology. You are a slave to no one...
Damned right. I am a slave to no one.
So, I plucked the box from the shelf trying to forget that I had written a terribly sarcastic, mean-spirited attack on Kraft Macaroni and Cheese Dinner just a few short years ago. How had I fallen so far, so fast? This stuff is like crack.
I shook off the thought and tucked the box under a bag of beef jerky (why am I not making my own freakin' beef jerky?) and made my way to the check out. I didn't have to blog about it. No one would know. I searched the store, surveying the aisles, looking for foodie neighbors - I'm talkin' to you, Red Cook - and assessing my chances of making it from aisle six to the check out lady without being spotted. I considered tucking it under my sweater but that looked a little like shoplifting. No need showing up on Food News Journal busted for a box of mac and cheese in my shirt.
Two ladies were in line in front of me. I tried to look non-chalant. Not a care in the world. Like I had bunches of kale in my trolley.
Finally we reached the cashier. I pulled out the box. Edie looked at the box, looked up at me. And she said, "I don't like that. I want something else." And then turned back to the stuffed monkey in her arms and started talking about something nonsensical and totally unrelated. Something about sparkly hair and unicorns.
I handed the box to the cashier, lowered my eyes in shame and said, "We won't be taking this...sorry."
Then, we went home and while the kids played, I made miso soup - from scratch - with home-made dashi. I eyeballed the dashi from watching Youko make it at Gomen Kudasai in New Paltz, New York.
It did not cost $3 dollars and it took more than 15 minutes. Way more than 15 minutes, although if I had made the dashi ahead of time it would've taken minutes. The dashi needs to be romanced and that is not a snappy process.
Frankly, I lucked out that I had all the ingredients in my pantry and fridge. I lucked out that I have access to a real Asian market. I lucked out that I had time. I lucked out that we aren't living paycheck to paycheck and can't invest in a surplus of spices, herbs and pantry items. I lucked out that my kids have a wide enough palate that I know they'd eat this soup and I wasn't wasting my time and my money, only to still have hungry kids staring up at me at the end of the night asking for something else. I'm lucky that I'm not so overwhelmed by life, depressed, screwed over, miserable, disease-riddled, poor, or life-challenged that even the simple act of making dinner from real food seems like a herculean task. I'm just lucky.
Everybody ate. Everybody was happy. I didn't have any guilt. My brain stopped talking to itself, gratefully. I'm certain I'm no longer delusional. I'm glad I didn't buy the box. But I get why people do.
Can't wait for David to come home.