Not quite breakfast club
My husband and I are pretty simpatico.
His cool demeanor balances out my high-strung tendencies; my inclination to save rather than spend helps keep a roof over our heads. We both know very little about sports, like reading in bed and prefer mushrooms on our pizza. Traveling is fun, but so is coming home. We’re early risers. Both love the “Die Hard” franchise. Are addicted to flea markets. Can’t stop taking pictures of our kids.
There’s one disagreement, however, that rages like a bacon grease-fueled inferno between us.
Spencer loves breakfast. I do not.
Growing up, my dislike of most standard breakfast items was a challenge to my parents. Tasked with getting us ready for school each day, Dad would formally “take requests” as though my sister and I had stumbled into a swanky restaurant in our footie pajamas. Whatever nonsensical thing we’d come up with (jelly beans! roast beef!), I knew we were getting Eggo toaster waffles.
I didn’t really want to eat anything. Eating before lunchtime felt strange to me. But Dad wouldn’t send us off on empty stomachs. I’d suffer through the waffle, requesting both butter and syrup . . . and sample a bite or two. Then, with Dad back in the kitchen, I’d tiptoe over to push the rest onto my sister’s plate. What? That was sharing. I’ve found a few breakfast dishes I like over the years, but would still take a sandwich over an omelet any day. Despite being the furthest thing from a picky eater when it comes to lunch, dinner, post-dinner, dessert, post-dessert dessert . . . well, breakfast and I just don’t jive.
I don’t like eggs — no matter how they’re cooked. Scrambled is slightly passable, but that’s not saying much. This works well with Spencer, who gladly takes them off my hands. So maybe that’s simpatico, too?
We don’t often fix eggs at home, but we do make pancakes. Spence gets the skillet out on Sunday mornings, trying new versions with whatever ingredients we have on hand. I won’t argue their awesomeness. I mean, they’re hot carbohydrates: easily my favorite kind.
But I just . . . don’t really care for bacon. Or any breakfast meat, really. Too rich and fatty. I had a bad interaction with some sausage links at an eighth-grade sleepover about, oh, 20 years ago, and darn if that didn’t traumatize me for life. (Seriously.)
I can do French toast because it falls under the “hot carb” category. But it’s not a realistic option during the week, and certainly not diet-friendly. If I’m going to immediately blow my daily calories on something warm, sugary and fattening, I want funnel cake.
My breakfast antipathy did relax during my pregnancies — mostly out of necessity. I was so nauseous with both Oliver and Hadley that I had to eat before even getting out of bed. I kept Ritz crackers and granola bars, water and almonds on my nightstand. An empty stomach is a sick stomach.
To be fair, all that snacking wasn’t exactly a hardship. Eating an actual breakfast was. When I was expecting my first child, I could still sit down to a relaxing meal before work. I ate cereal with low-fat milk, Greek yogurt, fresh fruit. The occasional cup of coffee, which I would track in an app (!) to make sure I didn’t exceed the maximum recommended daily amount of caffeine for pregnant women.
With the second? Well, with 18-month-old Oliver running amok, I was too exhausted to do much more than shove half of his leftover Pop-Tart in my mouth as we were walking to the car. I would stash other items in my bag for later, then grab a drink — usually cold coffee, much-needed from being up half the night with the littlest insomniac in our house.
I do dig deep for some breakfast enthusiasm when my husband suggests going out on the weekend. The logistics with two kids are complicated, but that’s not even what worries me most. I hate crowds, so joining the 1,000 other people wanting waffles is not my idea of fun — particularly when we’re on borrowed time with the children.
But marriage is all about compromise. Given how harried we all feel during the work week, going out for a leisurely breakfast feels indulgent. That’s why I go along with Spence’s breakfast suggestions: he’s typically out the door before the kids even wake up, so Saturday or Sunday pancakes are a chance to chat and relax together.
Last weekend we found ourselves at an old but new-to-me diner — quite the accomplishment for a born-and-raised Southern Marylander. It’s pretty old-school, quaint and unpretentious, with sticky tables that manage to be endearing instead of alarming.
Oliver sat in a booster seat instead of a high chair — a first — and we ordered him silver-dollar pancakes. He is finally feeding himself with an insistent “I do,” and that little guy holding a big fork broke my heart a little.
As with any time we’re out in public, I was still tense waiting for one or both children to lose it. An impeccably-dressed father and son were seated next to us, and I was aware of Hadley drooling on my shoulder as she stared at them like a maniac during their serious conversation.
But she didn’t cry. Miraculously, we got through breakfast without disturbing anyone. The place was filling up as we left, and our booth was a hot commodity. Spence and I high-fived back at the car: we’d done it.
With two unpredictable children, we usually eat at home. Safer, cheaper, less stressful. Spence prepares the weekend pancakes-and-bacon feast after I’ve done most of the heavy dinnertime lifting Monday through Friday, so that’s a treat as well.
I look forward to it — and to Ollie’s excitement as we all gather at the kitchen table. Spence makes him his own short stack. He’s really talking now, chattering nonstop, and I often look over at the maple syrup dripping down his chin and think: you can’t buy that with a million dollars. And it’s true.
My grandma says this often — a reminder of our blessings even when life feels hard.
Good thing we have carbs to help us cope.