5 January 2012

Domestic Pressure and A Lightbulb Moment

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.


13 comments:

  1. Learning to cook is one of my goals for 2012 as well.

    I sorta am in the same boat in terms of growing up with a certain sort of disdain toward domesticity. I'm not really sure why that is... Laziness? Rejection of anything that I could bond with my mother with? Who knows... All I know is that if you want me to clean my apartment, someone has to supervise me or else I have panic attacks and cooking? I can make spaghetti. And hot dogs. I need to learn to cook something better than that...

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  2. I have to read directions on how to make rice. I win. Ha. Teach me things your learn please and I will teach you. I've learned that the crock pot isn't as scary as I once thought, but that it is a huge pain to clean. And that's about it. Ha. Now go cook something Carly!

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  3. i'm in sort of the same boat. wishing you the best with your cooking adventure :)

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  4. LOVE this :) and laughed my ass off reading. :P Good for you and by no means do I believe that you are any sort of the antiquated, domestic housewife because you occasionally like to bake such fabulous things as STFU cakes! :) In my honest opinion, a truly liberated woman is a woman who does what SHE desires; whether that is being a careerwoman, a stay at home wife/mom, caretaker, cooker, baker, doer, and any combination of the above :)

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  5. Haha, "shut the fuck up cakes." Those are the BEST kind of cakes. :)

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  6. "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)...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." COMPLETELY true. I think you're running into a cultural/generational gap with the aunts. My husband does most of the cooking for dinner, and I usually make sure we have a hot breakfast. Growing up, my mom was a stay-at-home mom for my first 12 years of life. So she did the cooking. Eventually, mom went back to work and dad picked up the slack, cooking whenever he could. Now, he cooks every dinner for my mom (and he's a GOOD cook)! It's awesome to hear you're able to take a step back from what you're hearing and feeling and examine "why is this important to me?" Very healthy thing to do! :)
    You two have found/will find/will evolve into the lifestyle that works best for you guys. Life changes, and you are adaptable, with a variety of skills to help you succeed. Who cares if the house isn't in perfect order? You've lived! No one dies wishing they were cleaner.

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  7. Oh! You might want to check out the local community center for some great, cost effective cooking classes. Cooking classes make great dates too!

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  8. @J. Darling: Oooh, cooking classes sound like a great idea! I've thought about signing up in the past, but they can be quite pricey. Maybe they are cheaper at a community center.

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  9. Could you make me some STFU cakes too? ;)
    Seriously Carly, I could have written this post, it really spoke to me. Over the holidays I was asked "do you cook?" multiple times, and when I reply "like what?" I got a "well at least your husband doesn't mind." Because y'know, I can squeeze it in while working full-time and going to grad school part-time. Piece of cake.

    For most of my life it's been "get good grades" "study hard so you can go to a good school" and then when I went to Berkeley it was as if nothing could be worse than if I was staying at home taking care of my husband in the future. And now what? I'm bombarded by people looking down at me because I don't keep a tidy home or cook, not just by relatives, just random people!
    What does the world want from us Carly??

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  10. I hear ya. I'm bad at cooking but I wish I was better. I'm decent at baking. Because I like eating cookies.

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  11. Haha - your name for the cheesecakes totally cracked me up.

    I get how it feels to feel obligated to "domestic duties." I don't know that I made the conscious decision to learn them/put them in my routine, but I did somehow. Over time, I have really learned to enjoy cooking. It doesn't have to be fancy...I just like being able to put a healthy dinner on the table in the end...and that it tastes good!

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  12. I like to balance out my cooking (because I do like to cook and more importantly eat) with the fact that I refuse to clean house more than 2x a month! Ha! Take that society! And sometimes I consider dish washing to be when they break against the floor or wall! :) Rock on girl!

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