As a married woman in my thirties, I have felt a good amount of internal and external pressure lately to partake in domestic activities. If you’ve read this blog for awhile or even just look at the blog’s title you know that I’m certainly not the perfect homemaker. It isn’t a big surprise or anything. Thankfully, L likes to vacuum, so it balances everything out, right?
This year at a Christmas gathering, L’s aunties were laying the domestic pressure on thick. They kept asking L what I cook for him during the week. They asked me what my favorite dishes were to prepare, and they laughed when I said, “I dunno. Breakfast foods?”
It was awkward. Now that I think about it, I do have a few culinary tricks up my sleeve, but I got flustered and couldn’t think straight. It just isn’t a question I was accustomed to answering in my twenties. Now I’m a somewhat older wife, and it’s like, “Am I supposed to be ironing shit on Sunday afternoons while the casserole bakes?”
I know the brigade of aunties and my MIL think my lack of domesticity is hilarious. I’m glad I can provide this comedic service for them. But funniness aside, it doesn’t negate the fact that I felt inadequate standing there, and perplexed as to why this even mattered.
Later, I started thinking more deeply about domestic responsibility, and why it is such a point of contention for me. I was raised to believe that cooking and cleaning were the last things I should know how to do. My career ambitions and ability to stand on my own always came first. I went to an all women’s college where they turned their noses up at the thought of a woman keeping house and/or taking care of her husband. These values were such a stronghold in my life that it almost felt like a betrayal if I admitted that sometimes I like to bake cookies. But, who was I betraying? I guess I was betraying some young college girl’s fantasy of what it means to be a liberated woman. Ha! Good luck with that, twenty-one year old Carly.
The truth is that I actually want to learn how to cook. I actually enjoy caring for my husband (sometimes), and fussing over him (most of the time). These things do not make me needy, antiquated, or pathetic. I have little desire in perfecting the art of homemaking. That much I know. But, I can take snippets from here and there, and decide what I want to add to my skill set, and what I don’t. I think it’s pretty fabulous that the modern woman can be a little of everything: educated and ambitious with the ability to cook a mean turkey chili when she feels like it.
So cooking – yes. I need to get my ass in gear with that. But cleaning? Well, that’s another story. I like to buy pretty things for our house, but I’m not a fan of cleaning, and I refuse to get excited about cleaning products. Oh L, remember how much you like to scrub things and organize? Knock yourself out!
With that said, one of my “goals” for 2012 is to improve my cooking skills. I’ve enlisted my mom in helping me with this task. She’s been making delicious meals for her family for over thirty years, and I couldn’t think of a better teacher. I already had her teach me how to make the simplest little holiday cheesecakes.
I took some to the family New Year’s gathering the other day. While we were driving to L’s cousin’s house L was like, “Those look amazing, honey!” I replied coolly, “Yea, they’re called Shut the Fuck Up cakes.”
I’m not doing this for anyone but myself and to eventually feed yet-to-be-conceived kids, but I’m sure it will feel pretty damn good to shut people up for awhile.