Cooking Time



Lately, the show Little House on the Prairie runs on our TV in the background in the early afternoons.  There’s no way I could’ve made it back in the pioneer days for a number of reasons, one of which is the requirement that women had to cook constantly – every single meal from scratch.  After Little House finishes, though, a more modern show – The Gilmore Girls – comes on, and main character Lorelei orders take out, delivery, or eats out all of the time.  I’m much more in the Gilmore Girls vein, though I reassure myself that I’m not quite as bad as Lorelei because at least I can cook.

I can follow recipes and turn out a pretty good dinner.  But I’m not one of those people who can whip up a meal from my imagination and the items I can scrounge up from my pantry and fridge.  I know some people who love to cook.  It soothes them and makes them happy.  My own daughter feels compelled to bake when she’s had a bad day.  Not me – cooking usually increases my stress and anxiety.  I get nervous about getting it right, especially if I’m cooking for folks other than my family.  Maybe that’s why I don’t host dinner parties very often.

When I first became a stay-at-home mom, I cooked quite a bit.  But as the years rolled by, we had more kids for a grand total of four, and as they grew older, our schedules became busier.  To the point that we were not together for most of the nightly meals during the week.  We were always going in so many directions.  I convinced myself that it didn’t make sense to cook on most nights when we weren’t all together.  But now I know, I was lying to myself because lack of time was not actually the problem. During this time of Covid-19 social distancing, I’ve discovered something about myself: I don’t really like to cook.  I’ve had plenty of time to cook over the last few months, but I just don’t want to do it.

Lack of motivation, inspiration, and desire – not time – are the true culprits.   Also, some conflicted thoughts about what it means to be a wife and mom are in play.  Staying home with the kids after working for years was great and also hard.  When I first stopped working, I cooked more complex recipes almost every night.  This was probably guilt induced to some extent.  I felt the need to do something to “earn my keep” because I was no longer working.  Not that Ben ever said anything like that – it was just in my head.  It was not easy for me to work through the mental and emotional gymnastics of guilt, stereotypes, and what-ifs.  The act of cooking is a symbol of all these struggles for me.

And while this crazy time of crisis is not necessarily the best time to over-analyze life, I can’t help but wonder what else I’ve been lying about to myself. Now that I have more unscheduled time than ever in my adult life, I’ve realized time may not truly be the deciding factor in my decision making.  What else have I blamed on lack of time?  When life is busy, active, and moving at warp speed, I can easily say I don’t have time to establish an exercise routine or eat healthy lunches on the go.  When I don’t pray regularly or read my Bible, is that really because of lack of time?  I may not consciously use time as an excuse, but perhaps that’s the problem.  I don’t give my schedule the depth of thought it requires.  I feel as if time is pushing me around, but in actuality I am choosing how to spend my time.

We make decisions all day long.  We dedicate our time to ourselves, our families, work, school, our communities, and churches.  Or we don’t. Sometimes we fall into the trap of believing our behavior is only a result of time or lack thereof.  But if we take time off the table, if time is not the driving factor, then why do we make the decisions we do?  There may be other forces at work in our minds and hearts that drive us.  Are we happy with our time commitments or not?

Granted, all of our time is not our own, nor will it ever be, but taking time to investigate the motives behind or barriers to our actions is a wise investment of time.  Maybe if I admit that time is not always the reason for my actions, I can deal with the real aspects that determine why I do or don’t do certain things.  I can reevaluate and attempt to have my time better reflect who I want to be and what I want to do.

Now that I know my efforts to avoid cooking are not actually a result of a time crunch, but of a dislike of cooking instead, I can make peace with myself. It’s okay if I don’t like to cook. Of course, I’ll still cook sometimes. And my family can witness people who like to cook on the numerous cooking shows we watch together (go figure). Ultimately, the kids will be just fine even if every meal is not homemade.  Instead, they will have a less stressed mom who is more authentic and owns her likes and dislikes without making excuses time in and time out.





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