Friday, December 4, 2009
Are We Happy In The Kitchen?
I've been rolling this question around in my mind for the last few days. Am I happy in the kitchen? The other day I was working away in the kitchen and I was NOT happy. I was actually feeling sorry for myself! I spend SO much time preparing and cooking food!
In the middle of my pity party I started to think about women 100, even 50 years ago, and what their lives were like. Becoming a wife and mother was the highest and ultimate goal for women back then. Their lives revolved around feeding and caring for their family's needs. They didn't have microwaves or processed foods so they must have spent a large amount of time preparing and cooking food. The ability to cook and care for a family were qualities men desired and valued in women. Mothers trained their daughters from a young age to be able to cook and care for a family. Even 50 years ago almost every woman was a "stay at home mom." This title wasn't looked down on or belittled. It was held in high esteem!
As I stood thinking this over that day I think the Lord blessed me with a little insight and I want to share it. I know many will disagree with me, but I still need to get it out! Here's my take on the matter: When my great grandma, or even my grandma, cooked a meal for her family it took quite a bit of work! Baking bread, chopping things, peeling things, maybe even plucking things! By the time she set the meal on the table she had really worked! Then I bet she watched the look on her husband's face as he bit into his homemade roll dripping with butter. I bet she watched as her children happily, even greedily ate what she had labored over. Her heart and soul took great pleasure in their happiness and satisfaction. She had done her part once again by nourishing her family! It made her HAPPY! Of course I know her life wasn't always sunshine and roses, but she knew that her role was important and I think she felt fulfilled by her efforts.
Flash forward to me just a few years after I got married. My skills in the kitchen were limited. I hadn't taken much time growing up to learn those skills from my mother. I didn't think they mattered much! I could make a great salad, mac-n-cheese, tuna casserole and beef stroganoff. I knew how to open cans really well and I knew how to run the microwave. I learned to make homemade (white) bread and thought I was doing good. Was I happy in the kitchen? No, not really.
I think all the fast and convenient food we have access to today has to some degree robbed women of the sense of accomplishment that comes from REALLY cooking. We rush in from work or running kids around all day to heat up pizza rolls in the microwave or open a can of something and hurry to get everyone fed so we can move onto the next thing we have to do. Looking back over our day where do we get the sense that what we did really made a difference in the lives of our family?
Being a stay at home home is now on the bottom of the list of important jobs for women. Stop any girl walking to school and ask her what she wants to be when she grows up and how many of them will say, "A mother!" Girls can be anything they want today and be a mother too. But will they be happy? The world says a woman can't possibly be happy being "just" a stay at home mom! Do young girls see their mothers being happy in the kitchen? Did their mothers see their mothers being happy in the kitchen?
I have chosen to "do it the hard way" when it comes to cooking. I don't buy processed food. I make pretty much everything from scratch. I don't use the microwave, I don't use white sugar, white flour, or white rice. There's more, but you get the idea. I'm sure you are rolling your eyes and wondering why I do this when there are so many quicker options available. You'll have to read my other posts to really understand that. What it all comes down to, what I felt the Lord helped me understand the other day, is that I cook this way because it's how I show my love for my family. (Please note that I said "I." This is my way and I know it's not every one's way and THAT'S OKAY!) I know that every day at almost every meal my family is nourished and strengthened because of my efforts. That (usually!) gives me a great feeling of self worth and accomplishment. BUT, sometimes being a stay at home mom frustrates me and I long to go out and save the world! Maybe not even save the world, but just do SOMETHING and get recognized (and PAID) for it! I think the Lord understands this and has led me to this "style" of cooking to help me feel that recognition. When my kids are chowing down on homemade ice cream or a soup I spent a long time making and one of them says, "Mom, this is the best thing you ever made! I wish you made this every night!" THAT is when my heart fills with joy and I know that I AM saving the world...one kid at a time!