I am not a wife. I am not close to being a wife. Yet, since getting my own apartment and having my own kitchen in which to prepare meals for family and friends, I have morphed into something worse than a Stepford Wife...I have slowly, but surely, morphed into my grandmother, otherwise known as The Martyr.
The Martyr prepared meals far before they needed to be ready, thus giving her the opportunity to complain that the chicken was dry and the salad limp AND that she didn't have time to read her book club book, because she had been slaving over a meal for us, her ungrateful family. The Martyr could never sit down at the dinner table for more than five minutes without jumping up to go get more salad dressing, another soda for my uncle, fresh rolls out of the oven, whatever. That woman never ate a hot meal, and not because we ASKED for any of these things. In fact, we told her repeatedly to please, please sit down and eat with us. I think she liked being noticed for her martyr-like behavior and enjoyed hearing our fruitless pleas that she just sit down and enjoy the meal.
On Saturday night, it became all too obvious that having people to cook for has gone to my head and made me into the modern-day version of this Martyr-Wife. I cooked a meal that I wasn't familiar with (rule number one of things you should NOT do when cooking for a potluck), then fretted over how it would turn out, worried that no one would like it and even came up with a back-up plan, in case the food turned inedible. I also made it a point to tell every one of my guests, WG included, that I wasn't confident in the meal and that I had a back up plan. After being alerted to my concern, how could they complain about the food? Or, if actually good, how could they actually praise it without me believing they were simply trying to calm me down? The simple answer: they couldn't. I had set myself up to be the martyr, to complain about having worked hard on a meal that wouldn't live up to expecations and to force my guests to tell me the meal was "fine." I also kept getting up and down, bringing napkins, some pepper, more wine. I didn't give myself a chance to enjoy dinner. I sacrificed that.
And oh, shouldn't you notice that? Shouldn't everyone say, "Oh, look how much she cares about her friends that she wanted to make sure the meal was spectacular, that she couldn't even sit down for five minutes!"? No, they shouldn't.
Instead, they should say, "Sarah, you are NOT a Stepford Wife. You are not a wife of any kind. Calm down and enjoy your youth. There will be time for cooking meals for your family soon enough. Potlucks and dinner parties at the homes of twenty-somethings should involve something called 'take-out' or include the phrase 'bought at Costco.'"
In the quest to overcome my slide into wife/martyrdom, I told WG last night, "I am only going to cook things I like. I might try new recipes, but I'm not going to burn myself anymore." I've been burning myself, not on purpose, but because I get nervous and stop paying attention to the fact that at 350 degrees the oven is, indeed, hot, and so are the things inside it.
I need to remind myself who I am.
I am 26. I am a girlfriend. I am a daughter. I am a friend. I am a cousin. I am a librarian. I enjoy baking and cooking, but I am no chef. I'm no amateur gourmet. I'm a girl who likes comfort food, will choose a chocolate chip cookie over a chocolate souffle any day and who seriously, seriously, needs to chill.
There was a day when homemade included boca burgers and fries from a freezer bag. Or, at best, chicken cooked with rosemary and butter, nothing more, nothing less. That day has returned, my friends, and all around me may breathe a great sigh of relief.