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Comfort Food: A Novel
Comfort Food: A Novel

Comfort Food: A Novel

51gz2TDMNxL._BO2,204,203,200_PIsitb-sticker-arrow-click,TopRight,35,-76_AA240_SH20_OU01_I don’t know what I was expecting when I cracked open Comfort Food, SV Moms’ Book Club selection for May. I love food memoirs (think Ruth Reichl’s books and Frances Mayes’ Under the Tuscan Sun) and I suppose I thought this fell into that category.

Then I saw “A Novel” on the cover.

Hmmm…unfortunately it’s been awhile since I read any fiction. It’s been all non-fiction for a long time. Now, before you run away thinking I’m about as interesting as belly-button lint, it’s because I get sucked into fiction and nothing gets accomplished while I’m in that wonderful world.

Thankfully I’m a speedy reader and the boys have entertained themselves, because I got sucked in. I couldn’t help but get drawn into the lives of Gus, the CookingChannel star, and the friends and family that orbit around her. And what really got me is that the novel wasn’t directly about food, but about transformation. Gus had to transform her life after the death of her husband. Oliver transformed his life after realizing he had become a boring and pompous executive. Hannah transformed her life twice, after a career as a teenage tennis phenom and then after a hermetic life. They all reinvented themselves, from a “safe” life to a more fulfilling one.

What a great book for me to read right now. In three months both of my sons will be in school and the next stage of my life will begin. For the last eight years I’ve been a stay at home mom, always with at least one child here at home with me. On August 19th that will change. What will I do? I’m still working on that, but I am going to reinvent myself. Will I go back to teaching? Not bloody likely; two years teaching middle school band was plenty, thankyouverymuch. Return to private flute teaching? I considered it, especially after hearing my former student’s flute recital this weekend. I started her when she was eight; now she’s graduating high school and going to college on a music scholarship. I’m so proud of her I could burst. But lessons are usually after school, and that’s when my boys need me most.

So I’ve been spending time lately diving deep into what makes me tick and what would best suit me. I still have few answers, but I’m getting closer. It’s time to reinvent myself. I’m more than “Mom,” I’m more than “musician,” I’m more than “Wife.” I have some ideas, but I’m still trying them on to see if they fit, doing spins in front of a three-way mirror. Sitting down to make sure I don’t split any seams. Ensuring I can still breathe once everything has been snapped, zipped, buttoned and tied. It’s hard to reinvent yourself; lots of second-guessing. I’m like Hannah in that way. While Gus and Oliver just went ahead and transformed their lives, Hannah did so with a lot more trepidation. Is this right for me? Should I change? How will this affect me? How will this affect others? Will I be able to go on if I change? Will I be able to go on if I don’t?

Transformation is difficult, but what’s the alternative? Stagnation is no fun for anyone (ever taken a sip of water that’s been on the nightstand for awhile? Blerg.). I believe if you stop growing and changing you stop living, in a sense. These last several years I’ve been in a holding pattern out of sheer necessity. My boys, with all their challenges, have needed me home for them and I’ve been thrilled to be able to do that. But that chapter of my life is ending soon.

The actual details are still a mystery to me, but change is a’comin’. It’s time. I just won’t be a CookingChannel celebrity; you really don’t want to take cooking advice from me.


  1. OOH! You can be JUST LIKE MADONNA!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    Or – not

    But, I did put this book on my to be read list! And I know nothing about getting sucked into a book and not doing anything else – has never ever happened to me…no siree bob!

  2. melzent

    We’re in the same boat now, even if my guys are older than yours. It’s so hard, but you are right about the stagnation. Or, to quote Rush (the band, not the lardass), “If you choose not to decide, you still have made a choice” Hang in there.

    BTW, you’re missing out on cookies at my new place. Hurry up and visit already!

  3. Jen

    Well, here we are again, Jen…..yet another thing we have in common. I’m all about the whole transformation thing right now, and my youngest heads to Kindergarten in August too! I told you what I’m doing, right? Going back to school for Music Therapy! No more Band for me, at least not for a while. I really hope this will be the right thing for me as well as my family. What are you looking at, or “trying on”?

  4. I’m struggling with this too! I’m interested to see what you do. Both of my kids are in school, but I don’t want to get a full time job because I’m amazed at how much my kids still need me – after school, during the summer, running hither and yon.

    By the way, I’m a flute player too!

  5. Good luck on transforming yourself. I’ll be there in a few years also. Our youngest is off to kindergarten next year, so for once I’ll have the house quiet until 2 pm.

    I just love non fiction also. Memoirs are real exciting to me!

  6. I’m in the process of trying transforming myself too. I’ve worked part time for 7 years at a job that I love. Now I have a desire to do more (also earn more) while keeping my current employment.

    I have summers off, which I enjoy, but I have this itch to do something and earn something, yet still be a huge part of my kids’ lives.

    I don’t know what the “something” is. Or how to keep my kids and hubby first when I discover exactly what that something is.

    My holding pattern has me spinning circles also.

    Great post, and now I have another book to read. 🙂

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