Giving Myself a Mac 'n' Cheese Break

“Malinda, if you have to feed your family mac ‘n’ cheese every day to get through this season, then do it – guilt-free.” 

I looked at my friend as if she had two heads.  I waited to see if she was going to crack a smile, or burst out laughing.

She didn’t. She was completely serious.
Her advice stopped me in my tracks and forced me to take inventory of my life: changes in both of our jobs, a change in our childcare situation, and a baby and toddler under foot.  Life was definitely a little hectic.
And her words, spoken with grace and love, were so needed and so tender that night.
Now, before you all start jumping on the comment train about how unhealthy that would be, and what kind of mother would do that?!  Let me just say that she gave me good advice, but no, my children didn’t actually eat mac ‘n’ cheese for days on end.
But that night I received a valuable lesson wrapped in years of experience and wisdom (from an older and trusted friend.)  And a couple of years later… it is something that I still struggle with.
Because life cycles, and I continue to find myself in those seasons of chaos.  When work schedules collide and I only see my husband in the wee hours of the morning when he’s home.  The days of the kids sitting for too long in front of the TV, or getting shuffled between baby-sitters, and the laundry piles up, and the good eating habit get side-lined.

Sometimes, we truly are in survival mode.

We can’t always live in a season of balance, peace and order.  And in those moments of survival, it’s ok to let go.   

I don’t need to cook from scratch every night.  I can order take out, or serve pancakes for dinner. I can throw out the well-thought menu plan.  I can toss the idea that unless it’s all local, all organic, all 100% fill-in-the-blank, my kids are going to be un-healthy.  Why do I do that to myself?! 

And though my friend gave advice that was specific to food (for some reason, which I can’t remember), this advice spills over into other areas of life as well.  The fitness routine, the need to get the kids out for activities, the compulsion to go, go, go.
Sometimes I need to remember to slow down. Take the easy route.  Simplify.(My husband is usually really good at pointing this out for me.) 
Lately, we have been eating breakfast for dinner, and watching more movies than normal.  We’ve opted out of park time and play dates and instead played cards, read books, and chose to hibernate indoors.  Even though it’s sunny. Even though it’s summer and my kids ”need” to be outside.  I’ve just needed a couple of days of “easy”. 

So, to those of you who are struggling right now to keep it all together, who see the dinner hour quickly approaching and are panicking inside. To you, who are stretched beyond all imagination and really need someone to say “it’s a mac & cheese night”–here’s your permission:  
Give yourself a break.  Simplify. Take the easier path.

Tomorrow will come, and you can pick up where you left off (and you might still want to eat mac ‘n’ cheese.)