I’m a modern woman and I have the credentials to prove it. When I crossed the stage in my cap and gown they tacked MD to the end of my name I gained quick entrance into the professional world. My parents’ dreams were fulfilled, I stood tall on the weary shoulders of the women who went before me, paving the way into workplaces that only a generation ago were inaccessible to those of us with a double X chromosome. I am not be intimidated by men in suits, and in fact when I’m holding a syringe over them those men are often intimidated by me. I would not need a man to support me, my earning potential far exceeds that of my clergy husband unless he decides to pursue a career in televangelism. For a spell I was even the breadwinner of our family and my husband stayed home with our daughter. Our decision was met with applause all around. We were just that progressive.
The raised eyebrows didn’t come until we decided to change roles. I, aching for time with my little girl, and he itching to re-enter life outside our home. After many concerned phone calls the message was clear, my progress as a contemporary woman had actually limited my options in the eyes of many. Returning to the ancient vocation of homemaker could only be seen as a step back into the dark ages.
It turns out that the change was good for us, all of us. He was able to more fully live into his skills and abilities, my daughter and I loved being together and I was able to pursue interests that I had never had time for before (hence this blog). Joining the rank of housewife I could now dedicate myself primarily to caring for the people dearest to me, which for the most part, meant cooking for my family.
I spend several hours in the kitchen everyday though I don’t exactly love to cook. What I do love is sitting down to a nourishing table, knowing where my food came from and what is in it, having some idea of how it is acting in my body and most of all, eating something that tastes really good.
Cooking is a never-ending quest to me. I relish in learning how to take basic ingredients and turn them into all sorts of variety. Milk becomes butter, cheese, yogurt or ice cream. Tomatoes become marinara, salsa, juice or salad. It turns out that all of the mystery foods that I imagined could only be created in factories, i.e., cream of mushroom soup, mayonnaise, fruit snacks, are relatively easy to make, tastier, less expensive and probably healthier when I make them at home and it’s a constant puzzle to get each one figured out.
Sometimes when I throw together a quick dinner with leftover sourdough pizza topped with olives, sauteed onions and mushrooms next to a pile of salad greens along with marinated beets, fermented sauerkraut, homemade feta and a handful of strawberries, topped in balsamic and oil with a squeeze of lemon that came from my neighbor’s tree I feel like I might loose my mind in deliciousness and every hour of work that went into having that meal in the fridge feels so worth it.
This year have I committed myself to preparing lunch and breakfast. In the past I felt like those meals were meant to be eaten on the go, no reason to dirty a plate, let alone a pan. But the reality is three times a day we are hungry and we are going to eat. If I don’t cook for my family, someone else will and that someone doesn’t care near as much about them as I do. They won’t make sure that they get a serving of greens with each meal, they won’t add turmeric and ginger and garlic and oregano, all of which add flavor and medicinal value, they will be glad to feed my family with the lowest quality, lowest price ingredients tolerable and pocket our money without a second thought. So nowadays I cook and I love on the people I cook for in a way that no one else can.
This isn’t meant as a criticism of you if cooking isn’t your thing or if life just really does not allow you to cook as much as you would like, none of us have mastered this, we are all a work in progress. This also isn’t meant to insult those families where men have chosen to stay at home or are the primary chef in the family, you guys are awesome and I love the example you are setting. What this is meant to be is an affirmation of all those millions of women who spend their days in front of fires and stoves stirring pots and flattening tortillas. It is a plea to recognize that an empowered woman does not have to wear high-heels or a pant suit, we can don our dusty aprons and still demand to be taken seriously.
I cook for my husband because I am a modern woman and I love to feed my family.
This post was inspired by my current read, Animal, Vegetable, Miracle.by Barbara Kingsolver as part of the Liturgy of Life Reading Group series. We would love for you to join us.