Yes, I'm A Mother. And No, I Don't Cook.
I know I'm supposed to be feeding my kids home-cooked meals made from organic vegetables grown in my own garden, but here's the thing: I hate cooking. (And gardening, too.) I'm actually truly, truly grateful that I can buy things like prepared chicken teriyaki at my local bulk discount store. I love that my daughters' busy schedules of after-school activities forces us to eat out several nights a week. And I'm very thankful that I married a man who can cook (although, sadly for us, his work schedule prevents him from doing so every night).
I'll admit, I sometimes feel a little left out: being a non-cook separates me from the tribe of women. (I also don't knit or do "crafty" things, so that bonding possibility is out, too.) Even before I was a mother, my non-cook status was problematic. For example, my extended family has never known what to do with me at Thanksgiving dinners. When I try to join the women during the food-preparation part of the day, I am shooed away. The men are watching sports, and that's not really my thing either. So, I take a nap, and later try to join the men for cleanup, only to be shooed away by them. Non-cooking makes me androgynous.
The jury is still out on who is responsible for my non-cooking condition. I blame my mother, naturally. She's the kind of person who likes to be in control of things, especially her kitchen, and her personality didn't quite mesh with having a kid messing around in her space. My memories of few times I tried to cook in her kitchen are not good: I made mistakes and messes; I wasted ingredients; and I was was chastised. But, not surprisingly, my mother has a different story. She says she would have loved to have taught me to cook—I just never showed any interest. (For the sake of full disclosure, I must admit that my brother somehow managed to learn to cook with this very same mother.) Perhaps the fault is actually a genetic trait that skipped a generation. My grandmother was known to be great open of cans - and that was apparently the extent of her talent in the kitchen.
I have friends who love to cook. They consider it a creative outlet. They even find it—get this—relaxing. I don't find cooking relaxing. I find it stressful. And then there are all those dishes afterwards!
In this day and age, surely it must be acceptable for a woman, even a mother, to be a non-cook. Maybe. But the truth is, I'd like to be a cook. Food is social; it's one way we come together and share friendship and community. I'd like to be able to provide my friends and family members with delicious home-cooked meals. That all sounds good. The only problem is that to do so, I'd have to cook.
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