Eating to Live and Living to Eat . . . and Parenting

 

By David Hardy // Attorney

My wife is an “eat to live” type of person. She eats plenty of vegetables, whole grains, and legumes, avoiding fats, sugars, and other simple carbohydrates. On her birthday, when she splurges, it is with a chocolate whole-wheat applesauce cake. Her preferred recipe does provide for sugar and chocolate, but the final product is lacking when compared to other cakes. Each time I take a bite, it seems to me that I am eating a spoonful of sand.

I admire my wife’s discipline. I regularly point out, however, that she is missing part of a full and happy life. We are in agreement that a balanced diet, characterized by moderation and wise choices, will assist us in living to an advanced age in good health. But she rejects the foods that make living a long and healthy life worthwhile. Those are the foods that I “live to eat.”

A favorite food that I live to eat is a cinnamon roll. Warm and sweet, they mellow my feelings and improve my outlook on life. Following a tradition set by my mother, I suggested to my wife early in our marriage that breakfast on most Saturday mornings involve cinnamon rolls. Other days, I’d eat oatmeal and bran flakes, so long as on Saturday morning there could be a cinnamon roll on my plate.

Alas, my wife did not embrace this suggestion. As such, for many years, my children and I have enjoyed Saturday morning cinnamon rolls under her guilt-inducing stare, as she enjoys (allegedly) her oatmeal.

The notion of eating to live and living to eat goes beyond culinary matters. I find that it extends to parenting. As this blog is directed to adoption, I might suggest it for adoptive parents. In reality, it is universal.

Many parenting tasks are mundane, repetitive and necessary. These serve primarily for subsistence, without providing inspiration or satisfaction to either parent or child. Children must be dressed and fed three times each day (with snacks in between). They must be transported to the school, to the doctor and to ballet and soccer practice. Their clothes must be cleaned and their faces washed. These are the broccoli and whole wheat of parenting. They are tasks necessary for survival.

Less frequent are the events that make parenting worthwhile. I considered this recently during a recent “live to eat” parenting week. For two days, I joined sons in Southern California to watch baseball, and we together enjoyed a pastime shared between generations. Then, we joined the rest of the family in Utah for a daughter’s wedding. These are the cinnamon rolls of parenting–events made all of the dirty diapers, hot dog dinners, and school concerts bearable.

As one whose children are largely raised, I pass along some advice. If the satisfying and inspirational parental moments do not happen naturally, make them happen. In the midst of the routine and the mundane, plan for experiences that will be enjoyed and remembered. Everybody’s idea of these experiences will be different, but here are a few things from a parenting prospective that I have found worthwhile:

  • Reading out loud (we made it through all of the Harry Potter books, among others)
  • Climbing to the top of a mountain together
  • Playing on the beach
  • Mowing a neighbor’s lawn secretly
  • Playing Monopoly with a “take no prisoners” approach (it came naturally)

I recommend keeping in mind that parents and children need to “live to eat” from time to time.

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