A few months ago I wrote a post about my dislike of cooking (Not a domestic goddess). I am revisiting this theme because, in the last couple of weeks, I have come to realise that things are improving. It is not that the food I am preparing each day has suddenly developed into anything attractively delicious, but rather that my family seem to be showing a little bit more acceptance of what is put in front of them. I don’t expect compliments (although I did unexpectedly get one last week!), but I am gratified that there have been fewer complaints.
I think that there may be a number of factors at play here. My daughter spent a month of the summer exploring Madagascar. For a couple of weeks she was required to camp in remote villages, acquire food and prepare it on a small camp stove. To survive she could not be too fussy about what she would eat; as a vegetarian her choices were limited further.
Alongside this experience she has been showing a great deal more maturity in the way she notices how others are reacting and feeling (I wonder if her trip away helped with this). She realises that I am doing my best and is being more considerate. She is also developing her own cooking skills and can produce a meal for herself and her brothers if I wish to go out. There have even been occasions when she has done the washing up.
My elder son has reached the stage where it is hard to feed him enough. Satisfying his constant hunger is a challenge, but it does mean that whatever food is produced will be eaten. His complaints have not vanished, but have decreased markedly. Both children are noticing more often the efforts I put in to feeding them, even if the food produced is not always what they would choose to eat.
With these small improvements in my everyday life I have felt encouraged enough to make a tentative return to baking. This weekend I made bread for the first time in ages and it was pounced upon and consumed with enthusiasm. Requests for more were made and I felt gratified that the exercise had been worthwhile. The next day I spent much of the afternoon in the kitchen preparing a more interesting evening meal than is normal. It seems that, with just a little more appreciation being shown, I can gain some enjoyment from feeding my family after all.
Cooking is unlikely to ever give me pleasure in itself, but providing my family with something that they enjoy consuming is rewarding. Having gained these small successes I am now feeling uplifted enough to be encouraged to make other improvements in our day to day lives. If my family are capable of showing some appreciation of the food that I produce then perhaps they can also appreciate a more comfortable and appealing home. Perhaps it is worth my while redecorating a messy bedroom or getting some of the maintenance tasks that I have been procrastinating about seen to.
We support an organisation that works with families in Uganda. They aim to educate the mothers in improved hygiene, food production and storage, as well as in managing family finances, small business opportunities and rights to land. If the mothers can be kept healthy and productive then the whole family and community benefit. I sometimes think that I could learn a valuable lesson from this.
I am always inclined to put the needs of my husband and children before my own. Their happiness makes me happy so this makes sense to me. What I need to remember is that, on a day to day level, my mood and attitude affect them markedly. If I am feeling down then their home life becomes less pleasurable. They may act at times as if they do not notice that I exist, but the vibes I give out can act as a catalyst to their behaviour. When I am happy and full of energy we are all more likely to have an enjoyable, family time.
This week I will bake them another loaf of bread; I will try out that new recipe I found for bean burgers; I may even bake a cake. As my younger son told me at the weekend, not all of my cooking is a disaster and, even when it is, it doesn’t taste so bad that it isn’t eaten. Praise indeed…