I love cooking and eating. I’m no slouch in the kitchen. I’ve had several restaurant jobs that I enjoyed. My experience in professional kitchens would indicate that at least I know the technical aspects of cooking.
When I was a kid, if someone asked what I wanted to be when I grew up, I didn’t have a clue. When I was older, I started to like the sound of having my own restaurant, but more than that, I wanted to be a wife and mom.
I spent a lot of years apologizing for not choosing an impressive profession. I went to college and graduated with a degree. Still, when I looked deep inside, it always felt like my calling was in making a fine home, being a loving wife, and being the best mom I could.
Cooking is an essential part of making a fine home. To this day, we eat (some of us enjoy) a home-cooked meal every night. Gathering around the dinner table is the glue that will keep us together when Will and Jenny become teenagers and discover how stupid I am, and how much they hate my guts.
I was not Martha Stewart when it came to meals. I was more of a Rachel Ray. I quickly learned that when you have a picky husband, and even pickier kids, there’s no point in killing yourself to make a seven-course meal. My goal was to put something yummy on the table, that was healthy, and satisfied the tastes of each of us. Scaling Mt. Everest would be easier, but I enjoyed the challenge.
A kind person acknowledges the effort that goes into making a house a home, and they politely overlook the mistakes, the burned biscuits, the flopped cakes, and the misguided attempts. I believe that when someone is giving their best, they should be appreciated for their effort, no matter the end result.
My husband was not of the same mindset.
A typical Sunday morning would go something like this: I would be keeping two little kids entertained, while pleading with them to keep the noise level down. I’d be finishing the laundry that I hadn’t been able to get to all week, and trying to avoid those looks that said, “And what is it that you do all day?” I would be packing our gear for whatever outing Mark had planned for the day. And I would be fixing breakfast at the same time.
Mark would be found parked at the dining room table, reading the Sunday paper.
I was practicing the theory that a moving target is harder to hit. If I stopped, I was easier for him to attack, so I kept moving.
Mark likes his eggs sunny-side up. Even with all my cooking experience, I’m not great with cooking eggs. Eggs are fussy. I only have so much patience for fussy, and I reserved all that patience for my husband and my kids. Eggs require that you not be doing other things while you are cooking them. That was an improbability in my life – especially on Sunday mornings.
This particular Sunday, over the delicious smell of sizzling butter carmelizing the edges of two eggs, I took a deep breath, wiped my brow, and told Mark that his eggs were ready. Out of habit, I apologized for having slightly over-cooked them – not because I had a habit of over-cooking his eggs, but because I had a habit of apologizing.
(Exactly when did I turn into the subservient housewife who apologizes for having over-cooked the eggs?)
I nervously brought them over to him. He looked at the plate, let out a heavy sigh, picked up the plate of eggs, walked deliberately and slowly to the garbage, and slid the eggs into the trash.
“I’ll take it from here,” he said.
Any woman would have felt kicked in the stomach with that kind of reaction. It’s particularly worse for a woman who puts a lot of emphasis on cooking and pleasing her husband.
I don’t get nervous making eggs anymore. Scrambled, hard-boiled, poached – I can handle it. My kids and I will laugh when the centers aren’t runny enough for dipping their toast.
They don’t act like I have a character flaw if I don’t cook the perfect egg.
Sunny-side up applies to the mood around this cozy house now, and not just the eggs.
Tags: narcissistic behavior