Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Zen and the Art of Roasty Potatoes

Roasty potatoes save the day.

Some days, between Dr. Phil and WebMD, I’m pretty confident that I have some version of PTSD. I know, newsflash, right? Granted, working with those 2 experts I’ve also had lung cancer, hydrocephalus, a torn Achilles tendon, and weird hair. Only the last one actually afflicts me, and honestly I diagnosed that all on my very own.

Today was a hard day. Most folks who read here likely know why, and some might be wondering why I’m not tripping the light fantastic. We had GOOD news yesterday.

But as a history teacher, for me everything is about text, context, and subtext (to borrow from a really great book I just read about teaching historical thinking). The text of good news! is in a context of EXTREME yikes, with a subtext of “you KNOW you’re gonna be in this spot again”. So today I was more amoeba than Supermom.

My body hurt, every inch hurt. My stomach reminded me that coffee really isn’t the ONLY food group if you want to avoid ulcers. Yesterday’s stress and sleep deprivation, coupled with an inability to fall asleep last night AND a bed invasion by a small weeping child who was stressed out because we were in another state all day equaled a giant pile of exhausted me. I literally could not think straight. Thinking curvy was not going well, either. Throw in pouring rain and the start of school tomorrow, and I’m not sure even Dr. Phil would have an answer for me.

And this is after GOOD news!

Anyway, sending the waaaambulance on its way…I realized that the horde here doesn’t necessarily respond to stress the way I do. They like to eat actual food still, not just handfuls of Cub Scout choco-caramel popcorn and the last few Cadbury Mini-Eggs I hoarded for just such an occasion. That's likely better, I really don't want to share. So in between trying not to burst into random tears (I am a WAY ugly crier) or curse at anyone inadvertently (that was LAST night’s routine, oops) I dug out some potatoes and mindlessly started chopping away.

Cue the quiet Eureka moment.

Potatoes are therapy.

Something about chopping my little red potatoes (Costco!) into quarters, tossing them with olive oil and salt and pepper and that Tastefully Simple Garlic Garlic stuff, something about that whole business made me feel like a human being. The rhythm of it, the smells, the impending yum…it just made me feel human again.

Talk about comfort food!

Today was a hard day. For whatever reason, today was epically hard in my head. But potatoes are in the oven, along with some healthy chicken tenders, I chopped the remaining strawberries from the fridge so we can eat them over leftover brownies…the act of food just saved the day.

Yes, I still grabbed some of that choco caramel popcorn before I came down to my computer. But at least now my headache has abated. I feel calmer. Let’s not be crazy, I KNOW our context & subtext haven’t changed while my potatoes are roasting. I know tomorrow has new challenges for all of us, even as I keep carrying our elephant around. But tonight my warrior is smiling because she LOVES potatoes, and we will eat together and just have this moment, a moment far different than what we thought we’d be having tonight.

And I promise, I will NOT turn on Dr. Phil or surf WebMD to see what the curative powers of roasty potatoes are for stressed out moms. ; )

Now I have to go talk my warrior off a “my summer math isn’t done yet!” ledge, and get those potatoes out of the oven. Life does go on. And no matter what comes, at least there are always potatoes to come back to.


  1. A wonderful testimony to hope... "that sweetest in the gale is heard" i mean, the gale is still there, but i suppose the bird...or the spuds... Are there too.
    On a much more literal note, sweet potato "oven fries" are my latest comfort food :)

  2. Oh...Thank You...Thank You. So true. I'll think of you and your words from the heart when I make my Corn Tortilla and Egg Scramble tonight... Laura