I used to love cooking. My first husband and I cooked together a lot as newly-married twenty somethings. He’d open a nice bottle of wine, like maybe one over $10 that had a cork instead of a spigot. I’d pop in a Frank Sinatra CD (remember those?) and blast it so we could hear it in the kitchen. Then we’d wage culinary war against each other. Cooking was foreplay back then. It was an activity in and of itself. There was joy in mincing fresh garlic and pride in figuring how the hell to fricassee stuff. I developed mad skills on the grill. I like almost all cuisines. I improvised. People complimented me. Meals were leisurely affairs where like-minded friends shared each other’s company over warm food.
I birthed people. Those people sucked all the joy out of cooking for me. Cooking used to be relaxing and enjoyable. Now cooking is a means to an end. The people I birthed are assholes about the food I cook. I hate cooking now. It is no fun to cook for children. The biggest compliment they give me is to forget to tell me how much the food I just spent a substantial amount of time planning, purchasing, preparing and cooking sucks. They complain when I “warm stuff up” instead of “cook food”. You know what happens when I “cook food”? They complain about that too. It’s too spicy. It’s too plain. It’s not glazed or sugar-dusted enough. It looks weird. It’s not the right texture. It’s too hot. It’s too cold. I know I ate it yesterday but today is Tuesday. Geez, mom! I don’t eat chicken on Tuesdays.
If it’s not a carbohydrate I have to negotiate with them to eat it. JUST EAT, ASSHOLES! I don’t like negotiating when I’m trying to digest. I don’t want to think hard enough to figure out how to trick you into eating a Brussels Sprout. It’s exhausting. Contrary to popular belief, I prefer to actually sit at a table and eat my food from beginning to end without getting up, ever. I don’t like asking anyone to set the table five times before they do it. Truth be told, repeating myself is a total buzzkill.
Feeding the people I birthed is like one of the main things I’m supposed to do. Why do they make it so hard? I don’t want to give them complexes about food, but throw me a bone, people! Pop-tarts are not a food group! I know they make Froot Loops with marshmallows now, but you need some protein, bitches! I’m responsible for you to develop healthy attitudes about food, so DON’T MAKE ME COME AFTER YOU.
You know what happens to an activity when you have to do it? It becomes a chore, a job that no one pays you for. Cooking is thankless. There are no rewards for not poisoning everyone. I’m not getting a participation trophy because I finally figured out how all three of them like to eat potatoes. (Hint: one likes baked, one likes mashed and one likes scalloped).
And apparently the choices I make about what to feed them severely impact how they view their day. My day was going fine until THIS. Chicken tetrazzini could imperil their psyches for a week. Mom made me eat food that looked like worms. Life will never be the same…
My mother made meals like unseasoned hamburger goulash with slightly melted American cheese slices. There was no negotiation. There was “Eat your food or sleep at the dinner table.” I remember being spanked after I gagged up steak gristle at a family meal. We didn’t have pets, so I couldn’t sneak a fried liver under the table where it would magically disappear. I was made to sit in front of my cold plate of food until I ate every slimy canned asparagus spear on my plate. I didn’t realize asparagus came in a non-dissolvable form until college.
Also, the people I birthed are hungry ALL THE TIME. I think they expect me to make them food three times a day, every single day. That’s two times more than I poop on a good day. And let me just say I’d rather poop more times than I eat in any given day. That continues to be my dream.