Sometimes what we think we want isn't what we want at all. If you know me, you know that it's a rare occasion when I'm content with anything, really. The thing I've learned about always chasing something though, is that once you get it, you rarely get a do over. You go for it, you get it and then, well, you have it. I somehow got lucky and got a do over. I thought that going back to work full time was something I probably wanted. I worked hard to convince myself that it would be good for everyone. I ignored the small nagging feelings that maybe it was too soon or that I really did love being home with Ollie. I pushed them aside to make room for the feelings of excitement over something new and the glimmer of more money. It helped that I was returning to a job I knew I loved with people that I had missed dearly and while I did, in fact, love my job, it turned out, I loved my old one more. I desperately missed the adventure of chasing a toddler, the flexibility of a loose schedule and the order I was able to bring to our home during the day.
I lasted five months as a full time working mom. It was a difficult time of intricate balance, which I never really got right. I barely cooked and spent a ton of money on having someone else cook for us. I gained 10 pounds while I tried to desperately hang on to the merry-go-round that was our life. I stopped working out and the couple of hours a day I saw my son were spent trying to build train tracks while simultaneously folding laundry. It was a bit of disaster and I wasn't doing any of it well.
Fast forward three months and while I still have those 10 pounds to lose, balance has been restored to our lives. The thing I thought I wanted was not the thing I wanted at all. However, had I never gone back to work, I don't think I would have been able to fully appreciate what a privilege it is to be at home. When my toddler refuses to wear clothes and takes (what feels like) three hours to get out the door, privilege can seem a little far off, but I know that's what this is. I know it because I've seen the alternative and I'm so grateful for that perspective. So I'll take the naked tantrums, the incessant "no's!" and the very selective hearing any day.
Being able to cook again has been one of the great benefits of being home. There was a lot of take out there for awhile, which for someone who likes to cook, felt pretty depressing. The kitchen is therapy to me, it's creative and it's the perfect way for me to take some time for myself. When my husband comes home from a long work day and scoops up our little boy to go play train conductor under our duvet, I slip into the kitchen, put on my favorite Spotify playlist and immerse myself into the work. In there, I'm really me. I can be covered in flour with no makeup on and the pastry doesn't care. My nails can be in desperate need of attention and the kale doesn't make a peep. I'm in my happy place, made even more joyful by the giggles and the sound of a train whistle coming from the next room.
This salad is a dish I have been making a lot this summer. It takes on different personalities depending on what is in my fridge, but there are a few elements that are always there. Chopped lactinato (aka dino) kale is consistently the base of this dish because I tend to like the texture of it more than the curly variety while avocado adds a creamy contrast to the fibrous greens and a handful of cooked grains I batched in the beginning of the week add a punch of substance. You can riff on the rest based on what's in your fridge. Something crunchy like fennel or cucumber is great and beans bulk up the protein content and will certainly hold you over until your next meal.
Chopped kale salad with lemon tahini dressing // serves 4 as a side or 2 as a main
- 1 large head lactinato kale, rinsed + dried with ribs removed, chop finely
- 1/2 can chickpeas, drained and rinsed
- 1/2 cup thinly sliced fennel
- 1/2 cup cooked grains (such as quinoa, barley, farro or bulgur)
- 1 avocado, diced
- 1/4 cup finely diced red onion
- 2 oz sheep's milk feta, cubed
- 1/2 cup olive oil
- 1 tablespoon tahini (sesame paste)
- 1 tablespoon kosher salt
- juice of 1 lemon
Combine all of the salad ingredients in a large bowl and toss well. Pour over 4 tablespoons of the dressing and continue to toss until the dressing has generously coated the greens, adding more if necessary. Reserve the rest of the dressing for another use.