February 27, 2012

Spaghetti Sauce is Out to Get Me

The past few weeks have been a bit crazy. First we have to go here, and then there, and then back again. Next, it's this paperwork that needs to be filed, and the dog needs a vet visit, and a zillion other things... all of which added up to the unthinkable: Last week, we ate spaghetti with sauce from a JAR.

Not a major crisis, I know. But for a foodie like me, who insists on home-cooking, this was a warning flag of major proportions. A warning of what, you're thinking.... doesn't everyone make do with quickie meals when necessary?

Yep. Everybody does. Even us. Why the warning flag, then? Well, even when we're busy with life, the Hubs and I like to spend a a bit of time each evening with our quiet rituals. We make dinner.... ok, so that's a lie. I make dinner. But the Hubs sits at the counter and talks to me while I chop and dice and saute. Sometimes he even helps. The Hubs is a great chopper.

I like listening to his voice while I cook. I like telling him all the little things about my day. And I especially love the way these simple things keep us sane for another day.

Spaghetti sauce from a jar = no quiet conversation. No sharing of our days. Nothing to keep me sane for another 24 hours.

Not cool.

So, when I found myself cracking open another jar of spaghetti sauce, I knew something was wrong. Why was I so frazzled? Why did it feel like I was living with a stranger that I only saw in passing?

 It was the darn spaghetti sauce, totally to blame for my panicked state. Something needed to change.

Yes, I realize how ridiculous this might sound, but that doesn't make it any less true. Spaghetti sauce was out to get me. We were falling in with bad habits.

Obviously the sauce isn't really a problem, just my warning flag. We all have little rituals that help us relax, or things that bring us closer together as a couple. The Hubs and I have a lot of rituals that keep us running smooth. We hike together, walk the dog, leave each other notes in the morning, and.... we cook dinner together whenever he is home. Our rituals are different when he's away, deployed or otherwise. This is the reason that sauce from a jar was so upsetting to me. That particular ritual is something I usually do only when the Hubs is away, because I don't always like to cook for one.

The realization shook me a bit. Of course, I immediately went to the grocery store. I purchased enough ingredients to make a killer red sauce (someday I'll share it with you!). That night, the Hubs and I chopped onions and tomatoes. We talked about our day. He told me a funny story, and I told him about the dog across the street that won't stop barking. The jar of sauce went back into the pantry where it belongs.

Today, we're still a little frazzled and life is just a bit crazy. But we won't be eating sauce from a jar this week. The little rituals are easy to take for granted, and even easier to set aside when life gets in the way. So while the madness continues, I'm making a conscious effort to keep our rituals in place. I miss those moments when they're gone. While he's here, and while we have this time (crazy as it can be!), I want to stockpile the little moments. I'm going to treasure them, so I can pull them out again when he isn't here to make sauce with me. For the army wife community, those alone times come too often. For sure, I don't want to miss any of our together moments, no matter how tempting that jar of sauce might be.

What are your little rituals? Do you make a meal together, or snuggle on the couch with a movie? Perhaps you take an evening walk, or maybe go to the gym together? Whatever those little things are, hang onto them. Don't open too many jars of spaghetti sauce.

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