and then there was soup…{day 179}

All I wanted to do at 7:51 pm on Wednesday was crawl under the dining room table and curl up in a ball. Yet another dinner alone with the girls. It was a lovely meal, complete with spinach & cheese ravioli with brown butter, creamy, fresh mozzarella, tomato salad, eggplant dip and a crusty baguette.

Can you guess what my kids ate? Yep, bread and butter. The morsel of ravioli Virginia nibbled at didn’t count. The three pieces Isabella forced down her throat meant nothing either. We’d just come off a major tantrum over her not wanting to do homework. She would’ve eaten a slab of cement to gain my approval at that moment.

The scene that played out perfectly sums up my answer to an exercise we did in group therapy this week. We had to write down a parenting challenge and parenting strength on slips of construction paper. I didn’t get to share mine with the group, as it’s pretty big and some people there are talkers.

On that pink slip of paper—I wonder did they purposely choose pink, as in pink slips, I wrote down “I hate being a single parent”. That is my biggest parenting challenge. I hate walking this path alone, and not just because there’s no one to help steer the ship in moments of unrest and tantrums. I miss someone to share my meals with, to share in the little victories and joys.

I miss someone to look me in the eye, and reassure me that I’m not doing a horrible job.

I miss my husband, and the ache is settlng in deeper, as each day passes.

The picture above is a sneak peek from City Girl, Country Kitchen. It’s an Italian soup from Tuscany, called a ribollita. Bryan and I slurped it up for lunch today, steaming bowlfuls, and damn it was good. Isabella surely would’ve turned her nose up to it, kale being her arch nemesis these days. But as I ladled the soup into bowls for me and Bryan to taste, all I imagined is how much Mikey would’ve love this soup. Beans, vegetables, in a thick, flavorful broth, that hearty slices of country bread seemed to just melt into.

This soup is something I would’ve been proud to serve Mikey. And somewhere, I really do believe he’s looking down wishing he was here to share in it all too.


  • Marie Havnø Frank

    Dear Jennie,
    I cant look you in the eyes, but I can tell you all the same. If you are just half the person, I have come to believe you to be through this blog, you are doing an incredible job with your girls. They have their mourning to live with and I honestly think that you making a safe, warm environment for them where as much as possible is “normal” is the best gift you can ever give them. And one day they and you will see that too. I wish you all the strength and love in the world,
    Marie, Denmark

  • Maria in NJ

    hang in there, ask for help, don’t think you have to do this alone, there are probably people who would love to help you Jennie, let them, they love you…
    and please I know you are a very busy girl but please read Don Piper’s book…he only wrote one…it explains so much…

  • Julie vonblom

    My heart and soul ache for you daily. I SO look forward to your lovely posts. I feel whom ever reads your posts…..all are on this journey with you. Thank-you for sharing.

  • Tracey

    Love ya, ya silly ninny..
    Write me if you want to, soooo proud you are DOING the counseling and making soup! Hugs, hugs and smiles for YOU!
    JP’s Note: Tracey, you crack me up. Seriously, you always know how to me smile when I read your comments. Thank you for keeping me company in this virtual corner of the world honey. xo

  • Michelle W.

    You’re doing a great job Jennie! There are plenty of women who have a spouse and are still single-parenting! (laugh here)
    The soup looks fantastic! Can’t wait to see the recipe. I’m looking forward to getting a copy of your book when it comes out (wish I could get a signed copy).
    Blessings to you and the girls!

  • April

    I can’t imagine how hard it is, what you’re feeling. But I know just from reading your blog these past few months that you are strong and you love your girls very much and sometimes love is all you can do. I hope you have a support system. Wishing you the best from far away on the internet.

  • Blossom P.

    Whenever I see a new post, it always makes me realise that my life is good. You always seem to give perspective to people’s lives Jenny.
    You make us readers/fans/followers have an understanding that life is too easy to let slip by and that we need to appreciate our loved ones.
    One day you and your girls will realise that what you are doing today (being a ‘single parent’) wasn’t an easy feat but that you did a great job and Mikey would be very proud of his girls.

  • Loretta

    Meal by meal, bite by bite, you are feeding your children with your presence. More than any other ingredient you prepare, you are filling them with the fact that you are still there for them, and that even though there is one less seat at the table, your family love will never grow smaller for them. Achy, raw, heartbroken, and going through the motions is all you can expect from any of you. Your seat at the table, your very ability just to sit upright and face them nourishes them with the fact that life goes on for them, and that is nourishment that they really cannot get from anyone else in their lives

  • Angela

    Keep on ‘keeping on’, Jenny. You are an inspiration to all of us, your readers, even in moments when you don’t feel like you can go on. We are here beside you and your honesty in your posts makes us want to encourage you even more.

  • Kim in MD

    Mikey would be so proud of you, Jennie. Congrats on the cookbook. I can’t wait to purchase it and make this recipe!

  • Beth

    I came upon this blog rather accidentally – I StumbleUpon’d another site, which mentioned peanut butter pie for Mikey, which brought me here. First and foremost, I’m sorry for your loss. That probably doesn’t mean a whole lot to you, because “sorry” doesn’t bring him back, but I wanted to let you know, anyway.
    I lost my boyfriend of 5 years nearly 2 years ago to a drug overdose (we were 21). One day he was here, the next day he was gone. I don’t understand exactly what you’re going through- my Paul wasn’t your Mikey, we didn’t have kids, etc. However, I understand the searing pain and the everlasting ache of loss. There’s no hurt like it. Waking up in an empty bed. That terrible hope that it’s him when your phone rings. That split second when you wake up after dreaming about him and everything’s right in the world, only to remember that he’s gone.
    I’ve lived that hurt. I still do, to a certain extent.
    But I want to let you know that it gets better. I promise you, it will get better. Not only will you be happy, but you will find JOY. I did. It’s been a long, hard road, but I can finally say I’m truly, actually happy again. When my Paul died, I thought I’d never love anyone again. I’d never smile or laugh again (and I didn’t, for nearly 6 months). It hurt too much. But several therapy sessions and grief support group meetings later, I’m ok. I can smile and laugh and truly find joy in life. And weirdly enough, I’m getting married in April to an extraordinarily understanding and wonderful man, who puts up with my crazy and loves me unconditionally.
    People say stupid things… let them. People who say stupid things don’t understand grief and loss, and I pray they never will.
    Again, I’m so sorry you and your girls have to go through this. I’m sure Mikey is so, so proud of you. Your food looks AMAZING – I want a cookbook!! Keep your chin up, and know that it gets better.

  • vanessa

    Hi Jennie,
    I’m playing catch up on your last few posts so I can’t tell correctly if Mikey’s birthday has passed or not, but in case it hasn’t – my vote would be to make him a cake if you want. I understand your a parent and need to be “rational” – but I think you should do whatever makes you feel good. (that’s just my two cents!)
    I’m so sorry to read the ache you feel. It’s understandable, of course. I hope you have lots of friends and family close by that can at least try to fill the void. I haven’t been following along here for long, but even I find myself thinking of you sometimes as I cook, hoping you and your girls are OK. If that is the case, I’m sure you’re on many people’s minds so surely you’re not totally alone.
    Wishing you much strength this week. -Vanessa

  • Linda Miller

    Dear Jennnie, I too stumbled on your blog by accident but I do know there is a reason for it as it has taught me much. My heart aches for you, but know that you are doing a fantastic job with your Family. I can tell you are a special person and enjoy your writing. Blessings to you.

  • jennyp

    You are doing a good job! As a teacher, my advice would be to hand over some of the homework battle to your daughter’s teacher. We really do love our students. Tell the teacher you just can’t deal with that particular battle right now. Most teachers I know, and I know a lot, would be happy to be the keeper of accountability for a while. With my own son – the one exactly like me – I stopped helping and checking his homework when he was in 2nd grade, because it led to huge tantrums and fights. I finally told him that I would answer any questions he had, but that was it. It helped, and we weren’t dealing with anything even close to what ya’ll are.

  • Brenna

    I hope you focus on the parenting strength you wrote down as much as you did the challenge. It’s often easier to see the negative in yourself, but it’s so important to remember to congratulate yourself sometimes, too. You’re doing the best you can, Jennie. And every day, that’s enough.

  • Us4inah

    I was 9 when my dad passed away. So, I get it. I live in a neighborhood with two neighbors whose husbands died, one also lost a son. My daughters best friend lost her dad in 4th grade. All of them died suddenly. When we get married and have a family, we did not sign up to be a single parent. In my opinion, it’s ok to not like it. It’s not bad or good it just is.

  • Lisa - Hannemaniacs

    I think of you often and can’t imagine how difficult the transition to single parent must be while you’re dealing with such terrible grief.
    You’re an inspiration in many ways.

  • Deborah

    Hi Jennie,
    I too lost my husband. August 11, 2011 was the worst day of my life. I miss my David beyond words. I am trying to figure out what to do next. But I can’t. I know I will see David again one day but in the mean time I have no peace. So I understand how you feel to a point. I do not have young children. Maybe it would be easier if I did. I need a reason to get out of bed some days. Will I ever be at peace again. I know I will but this is really hard. I will pray for you.

  • loretta reagan

    please try to not reflect on this sad stuff people want to help you but you have to help yourself first losing some one is sad indeed but loss is all part of it the only thing is is we dont have gods time line for any of us start doing what u do best and that is cooking .and taking care of yourself and the girls