The Joy of Cooking?

Table with food dish

I hate to cook. Let’s just get that out there. I am surrounded by women, like my own mother, who are magnificent cooks. They make meals a work of art I can’t even comprehend.

When we went to San Diego to visit over the last Christmas break, my kids said they’d never been so full in their life. My mom offered to cook them 3 meals a day, which I wouldn’t do on my best day, let alone vacation. By the end, my kids were starting to feel guilty because they knew perfectly well how to make their own pancakes or even pour a bowl of cereal. I wish I found joy in doing it for them.

It’s not like I’ve always been like this. The first 10 years of married life I actually served up some good meals three times a day. I had to; I had babies who relied on me and a husband who ate a lot. I also had a stomach that accepted food of all sorts and varieties, and it was a joy to eat. That all changed the day the pain began.

I’m not talking about a stomachache. I’m talking severe, breathe through the pain, 24 hours a day, barely survive type of pain. And it went on for months and months and months while doctors tried to find the cause. Every few days I would allow myself a narcotic right before going to bed just so I could remember what life felt like without pain for a few minutes.

I stopped eating. I lost 25 pounds when I didn’t need to lose any. Diet by starvation; I don’t recommend it. I tried to eat no grains and began my journey with homemade almond flour. I starved some more. I was finally diagnosed with Crohn’s disease and over time, found a diet and medicine that kept me alive.

But it completely took all my joy for food away. And with it, my desire to cook. The first 5 years of my life with no gluten, no red meat, no dairy, no soda or caffeine, and very little sugar were the hardest. I cooked 2 meals each night; one for my family and one for me. I looked on in envy as my family ate casseroles with cheese and real burgers and homemade bread. Then I woke up. I couldn’t keep doing this to myself. So all my dinners became up to my standard and the kids adjusted over time. I realized one kid was going to complain about the food for one reason or another no matter what I made, so I might as well make it easier on myself. Not to mention healthier for them.

So we’ve adopted a new plan. The kids have learned to make the things they want that I can no longer enjoy: cookies, pancakes, grilled cheese sandwiches, pizza. They’ve become more independent. I’ve become less jealous (grouchy) of what’s on their plate because I didn’t have to make it. It works for us.

Maybe some day my kids will understand. Maybe some day I will. Either way, for now I hate to cook, but I keep on doing it. Because sitting down to a nightly meal with my family is worth every effort, even the complaints.

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