Thursday, July 25, 2013
A story about coleslaw.
Actually it isn't really. But it is sort of.
The husband isn't keen on certain foods, and so it's evolved over the years that I've stopped eating these foods too, because, really why would I make a mushroom risotto when he likes neither mushroom nor risotto. It's like I've adopted a form of happy and well intended martyrdom, I've withheld a pleasure from me so he'll be happy. And I've got to say he's always the first one to say "make it/buy it/eat it - I'll just have a little" and then shake his head in frustration when I don't.
So this isn't about him at all, but more me, and why I do it.
This year, with the clock racing, I decided life's too short not to order vegetarian pizza, so I have subtlely re-introduced MY foods back into our family. Coleslaw is one - nothing better than a nice crunchy asian slaw with peanuts, asian dressing and coriander to complement a ...(insert anything), tomatoes are in the fridge, mushrooms, salads a plenty, and a half vegetarian pizza is on the menu when we do a pizza order. And if ever The Husband is away my boys look in disgust at whatever of my favourite forgotten foods I've managed to splodge together and call "dinner".
Why do we do this - withhold your own pleasure so you can pleasure someone else?
My mother was an expert at this, so I've learnt from the master. She would put our simple meals in front of us with a sigh, dreaming of exoticness while serving up very nice ordinariness to our family. Saturday nights used to be a challenge for my dad as it was their night to stretch the imagination and take a few risks. And if you know my father he's not a risk-taker. With my sister and I safely esconced in front of the telly with our take away fish and chips, Dad would wisely choose his words carefully after the first mouthful. And my Mum was a great cook, it's just my Dad had simple tastes (I want to put in here, I'm not sure how either of them could taste anything after the volume of wines and cigarettes they'd consumed but that would be wildly inappropriate so I won't).
With horror, I sometimes find myself barely letting my husband swallow his first mouthful before I'm asking - "Do you like it? Are you not eating it because you don't like it." And I take the silence (while he attempts to swallow) as confirmation of this, and adopt a cats bottom sulky mouth until he can splutter out that it's good. I'm my mothers daughter.
But still it has been empowering to let go of the self created martyr (seriously that is a hard word to spell) and just be. To not worry about making everyone else happy at my own expense.
Because when it comes down to it everyone else is happy to make me happy. It goes both ways. It's just taken a lot of coleslaw-less meals to realise it.
What do you hold back on and why? Is the time to start now?
post script - we had coleslaw twice this week! Yes, twice!