It was a late Sunday afternoon in November and I had spent the day frustratingly grading plagiarized responses to a comprehension question I assigned to my 7th graders the week before. I was supposed to start cooking the first dish from the endometriosis diet book I purchased a few weeks before but phone calls to parents seemed to take precedence. By the time I was done with just one class set, it was 5 o’clock in the afternoon and I had not even started to think about dinner, let alone the Moroccan Turkey and Sweet Potato Breakfast Bake, the first dish in the endo plan. According to the book, I had to cook this on Sunday and have it for breakfast for the next four days. Okay! I was finally (though a bit hesitantly) ready to start.
Working so hard to get my students to understand what to do only to find that they had plagiarized left me feeling despondent. I made the mistake of starting to prepare for the meal before elevating my mood. I gathered all the spices together first because that part seemed the easiest. I had my ground turkey defrosted and ready to go. The collard greens seemed to be a lot but they were ready too. I had to chop an onion and an apple, which was no problem. But when it came to chopping the sweet potato, that’s when my emotions started to run away with me. Trying to force the blade of the knife through the sweet potato took a bit of effort. At times, I was afraid that I was going to hurt myself. I looked at the time and noticed that I had already been preparing the meal for almost an hour but the book said the prep time was supposed to be only 10 minutes. What was I doing wrong?!
I looked over at Dan, who was enjoying a program on TV. Did he not realize that I had been in the kitchen for an hour already and that I was not yet done? Why didn’t he offer to help me? Could he not see that I was having a hard time with the sweet potatoes? An irrational anger swept over me as I transferred my frustration with my students and my feelings of exasperation over the food prep onto an innocent husband who was giving me the space to do what I needed for a healthier me. The longer I spent cutting the unbelievably stubborn potatoes, the angrier I grew and the more I felt like crying. All sorts of thoughts ran through my head. If Dan truly cared about me, he’d ask me if he could help. He’d ask me if I was all right in the kitchen. He’d ask me what I was up to. Something!
“What are you doing in there, little girl?” he cheerily asked me at some point. I don’t even remember how I responded to that but it made me realize how silly I was in allowing myself to be wrapped up in all of these emotions I could have squashed if only I had voiced them. Though I knew I was overreacting, I somehow could not let go of the feelings. I had finally finished chopping the sweet potatoes, mixed all the ingredients according to the recipe, poured the mixture into the baking dish and carefully placed it in the oven for 45 minutes. The entire process took over two hours, with the time approaching 8:30pm!
With my lower back irritating me due to the length of time I was on my feet, I sat on the couch to finally relax. By this time, Dan had already retreated to the bedroom and I was still feeling emotional so I didn’t join him. Instead, I played a few games on my cell phone to help myself unwind. Noticing that I had been quiet all evening, Dan came into the living room and asked me if I was alright. I couldn’t keep the tears from falling. I wept and told him that I had been upset because he didn’t ask me if I needed any help during the entire time I was preparing the meal. He did indeed feel terrible and told me, “I would’ve helped you if you asked!” And I knew he would have, so why didn’t I ask? I realized that I had wanted him to ask me on his own. I wanted him to see on his own that I may have needed help and for him to offer it without my having to say anything. To me, that was what a caring husband was supposed to do. But a wife should understand who her husband is. Dan will not always see on his own when I am in distress, but he will always help me if I ask for it. I learned a valuable lesson because of the endo diet, specifically the Moroccan Turkey and Sweet Potato Breakfast Bake, which I now simply refer to as the turkey bake.
So how did the dish turn out? OH. MY. GOODNESS. It was absolutely delicious! With natural sweetness from the sweet potatoes, apples and raisins mixing perfectly with the texture of the ground turkey and the richness of the the spices, a delightful combination of flavor exploded in my mouth with every bite. If all of the recipes in the book were this delectable, I was going to enjoy making myself healthier for the next few weeks. Yes, the process was a long one and was exacerbated by my already bitter feelings about my students, but I was excited and more determined than ever.
(Oh! How did I handle my students’ plagiarized paragraphs, you ask? I didn’t! I decided not to grade them at all and I simply replaced the assignment with another one I knew they could not plagiarize! Done!)
Stay tuned for my next story revolving around my undertaking of this new endo diet!