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A wife writes on why cooking with her husband is so stressful and also questions why mothers don’t teach sons to cook.
There are certain days when you just don’t want to step into kitchen, some days when you are just too tired, or ill, or feel like watching yet another episode of The Big Bang Theory, or are getting late to work or your vagina is killing you, or you are writing a blog, or you just don’t feel like it. Then, sometimes you order in or sometimes the mother-in-law comes to the rescue. I’m obviously assuming here that there is no Man Friday around to take care of food woes.
The thing about my husband is that he’s a very caring person, so sometimes he actually pets me like a baby and rubs my back after eating so that I’d burp ….OK that sounds creepy. But the point is that he is really caring. He knows my struggles as a working married woman, he listens to my worries, presents solutions when I ask them, and makes me laugh when I’m blue. In a parallel universe, Taylor Swift would be writing songs about getting a guy like him. But, I’m yet to find a way that I could make him help in the kitchen and not end up in tears.
It’s not that he doesn’t want to help, it’s just that his efforts in kitchen always end up hyperventilating me. My husband likes to think he can cook, but to be very frank, his culinary skills hit rock bottom when Maggi was banned. Though he can cook the occasional chai, and bread-omelet, the thought of leaving him to cook makes my blood run cold.
Although my mother-in-law and my husband assure me that he can take care of the kitchen, I’ve seen evidence enough not to believe the hogwash. He is often confused about the order in which spices and vegetables are added, he can’t decide if the sabzi is cooked by just looking at it, he can’t fry unless he scorches that thing, he can’t judge if eggs have been boiled even if I ask him to count 3 pressure cooker whistles. Chopping vegetables on a board is easy enough, but it’s completely another matter when it comes to using fingers.
He offers to help, which I find exhausting and frustrating, since it’s not helping, it’s just me cooking and him chatting and occasionally getting a jar down or two, after which he boasts that he helped me cooking. Which would lead to people saying that I just hype when I complain about him not helping in kitchen. It also doesn’t help when he just repeats cooking tips from popular entertainment websites while people watch him misty-eyed, marveling over my luck at landing ‘the whole package.’
In fact, it’s not his cooking but the aftermath that chills me. We have what I would call a ‘difference in opinion on what constitutes cleanliness,’ if I were to be polite. If I were not, I would just say he is a sloth. He won’t care that he is scattering sugar everywhere, inviting ants all over the place, or dripping tea all over the stove resulting in big sticky puddles. He can’t understand that I have different dishcloths for wiping surfaces and utensils, and why I create a ruckus when he mixes the two.
What he calls as my OCD behaviour gives me nightmares as thoughts of dirty kitchen counters start to fill my days. We often have arguments, me explaining why hygiene is important and him wondering what kind of psychiatrist help I need. On these days, I actually worry about my unborn children and what sort of diseases they are prone to.
My mother-in-law understands the dilemma. If I were to call my husband to the kitchen, she’d come instead and ask what I need help with. What I try to make her understand is that it’s not the help that I need, it’s more about the empathy I need from my husband. Even if he is loving and caring, there are days when I dream of parallel universes where I am married to Vikas Khanna.
I see the relationship between my mother-in-law and my husband, how she still worries over him even now, making sure he is comfortable all the time. Motherhood is supposed to be like that. But then, I actually wonder if the treatment would have been different had there been a daughter in his place. I don’t have a brother but there is a fair chance my mother would have discriminated at such base levels that I wouldn’t have even recognized the discrimination.
Some people would accuse me of bringing unnecessary feminism to this. After all, mothers are expected to favour their child.
Some people would accuse me of bringing unnecessary feminism to this. After all, mothers are expected to favour their child. But it makes me wonder if there would have been favouritism just based on sex. And, if this is result of that favouritism that my mother-in-law still can’t bear to see my husband cooking and therefore, never saw the need to teach him to cook anything. She would have definitely taught my sister-in-law if there was one, and the nanad or the jethaani would have been instructed to help, but not the devar or husband.
Which is not very weird or something new, but why a mother would think that her son is not supposed to be taught the art of feeding oneself? And, I know that there are people who think that my question is preposterous, as the culinary industry is a male-dominant field. But, all those chefs are in this professionally. I don’t see them cooking for their wives day in and day out.
Maybe, there are some couples where only the husband cooks or where both spouses are in it together, but still I see mothers poking their daughters about this recipe, that recipe to feed their husbands, not the other way round.
I’m not blame shifting, or frustrated out of hunger or just having those episodes of ‘where I’m looking for gender inequality in every nook and cranny’ because I’m PMSing. It’s just a very basic question, why women don’t teach their sons to cook. What if in a parallel universe, all the women rebelled against cooking all by themselves, what would the men do? How many pizzas would they order? Irrelevant they may seem, but this is what defines the future.
Sigh! I guess I’ll finish the tea my husband just made and brace myself for the sight that awaits me in kitchen.
Cover image via Shutterstock
Crazy thinker, impulsive writer, schizophrenic psychopath.....what!! Ruchi, why would you write that now, huh?
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