Go Sit Down.
There are days, like today, when my mind works a lot harder than my body. There is too much on the To Do list, there are too many details I’m trying to keep track of, there are too many plates spinning in the air and I’m pretty certain if I take too deep of a breath, all those plates are going to fall and fracture into pieces I cannot sort out. Even so, I take that breath and keep moving: to appointments, through daily chores, with homeschooling, and all the other things that keep our lives moving.
On days like this, I can tend to be a bit of a frazzled mess by the day’s end and pretty much the last thing I want to do is make dinner and spend more time in the kitchen. But, you know, growing girls need to eat no matter what kind of day I’ve had.
Enter my husband, whose day most likely has been equally wild and exhausting. We tend to look at each other and sigh, an acknowledgment of what lies ahead. Now before sharing what goes into the labor of love that we call dinner here, I will pause and provide an overview of our family of four. There’s me and David, and our two girls, 13 and 11, and both of whom are autistic; the 11 year old also has OCD in the true sense of the word and not the casual term people like to use about having books all facing the same direction or other similar meticulous aspects to tidying their spaces.
We don’t use the typical labels to discuss our girls’ autism. Rather, we communicate the support they tend to need or the challenges they sometimes face. One of the consistent areas for support is food preferences and restrictive eating. One girl eats few to no fruits or vegetables but accepts a plant-based supplement in her chocolate milk that provides her the required servings of fruits and veggies she needs each day. One girl tends to eat specific fruits and vegetables, but there are days when those options are passed over because of look, feel, smell, texture, or simply not looking as expected. This same approach applies to the preferred foods; some days it’s a yes, some days it’s a no.
As a family, we’ve developed our routines around the needs of each of us. And that means more often than not we don’t cook and serve a single family dinner that we all sit down to together to enjoy. And we’re okay…