It’s happened. After years of making our kids our focus, they are not physically with us much anymore. Our daughter lives in Vegas, and the boys are off in other cities for college. The boys have opted to stay with family in Boston this summer. Their journeys away from us continue at even greater distances with study abroad for most of next year. I’m not happy that my kid sightings will pop into the same rare air as Nessie or Yeti ones, but there are some positives. I don’t miss stepping on Legos. There is less laundry, fewer dishes, and we are no longer a taxi service. We can be whimsical about our schedule, as it is no longer contingent on what the boys are doing, will be doing, or should be doing next. These days, my husband and I often look at each other and realize neither has the slightest inclination to cook, and an amazing thing happens. We walk out the door and go out to eat. We split an entrée to the dismay of the wait staff, but it makes for a pleasant evening with no dishes at the end of it. Eating out rarely happened in the prior eighteen years. Both of our boys are tall and built, and swam on a fantastic year-round intense and driven swim team. They did twice a day workouts and were legitimately always starving. They needed to have the dinner READY at 6pm when they walked in the door from practice. The boys often brought home more boys I affectionately dubbed my “Other Sons”, a delightful bunch of goofy guys who never failed to give me big hugs and bring a smile to my face. Our Other Sons would often stay to dinner, as it was well known that my husband is a wonderful cook, and that I like to bake and make popcorn in giant batches. Our cupboards and fridge were always full of food and “grab and go” items.
Now there is never anything to grab and go in our cupboards. Being of middle age and waistlines that seem eager to go up in inches rather than down, our fridge contains things such as ground turkey, spinach, and fake cheese, (I call it fake cheese because while it gives a near-cheese experience, Vegan cheese does not taste at all like cheese). These have replaced the leftover lasagna, multiple packages of actual cheese, and chocolate chip cookies. And bread. I truly miss bread, but as my ultimate life plan is to be able to run up into those ubiquitous “play places” fast food restaurants have and rescue grandchildren or perhaps slide down the tubes with them, bread has been chucked. The last thing I want is to get stuck like Pooh in an entrance to one of them, my bottom and little legs dangling in the breeze while 4-year-olds laugh and point. Toast is just not worth that.
The cupboard-is-bare landscape changed this week, as we prepped for our boys to migrate home for a quick visit, one of them with his girlfriend in tow. Craig and I went to the grocery together, and the cart filled up. We had fun wandering the middle aisles of the store where we rarely go now, reminiscing about the prepackaged and frozen favorites that have not been on our table for quite a while – Dino Bites, Kraft Macaroni and Cheese, Manwich, Hot dogs which we wrapped in Pillsbury Crescent rolls, mini pizzas made on English muffins, and lots of sausage and bacon. As far as our boys are concerned no journey home is complete without my making Fettucine Chicken Alfredo (recipe below) and burgers made by Craig on the grill, giant concoctions of meat and grilled onions, and toasted buns and Swiss cheese and bacon and avocado and tomato slices. All these ingredients are back in my fridge and cupboards. Yesterday I found myself opening the fridge and marveling at the fullness of it as I impatiently waited for the time when we go fetch our curious, amazing, darling, beloved boys from the airport. I was taken aback at the abundance, and became oddly misty. I got a deep pang in my heart and that is when I realized — I wouldn’t mind stepping on a few Legos again, after all.
Fettucine Chicken Alfredo
I box Fettucine
4 chicken breasts
1 stick butter
1 pint heavy whipping cream
1 16 oz jar of Parmesan Cheese
1-2 teaspoons Garlic powder
Salt and Pepper to taste.
Broil the Chicken, Boil the Pasta. Melt the butter over medium, add the garlic powder, slowly stir in the whipping cream, and then slowly add all the Parmesan cheese, stirring continually. Dice the Chicken, toss into the pasta, pour the sauce over the top, add salt and pepper, and serve with more cheese. It’s ridiculous, but delicious all the same. About a half hour from start to finish. This serves 4 people at my house.