I am not proud to admit that I didn’t know how to cook an egg, or anything for that matter, till I was in my late twenties. Since I believe in complete honesty, when Sean proposed to me, I came clean ‘just so you know, I can’t cook or clean’. In other words, don’t have any expectations of a clean hearth and home-cooked meals at the end of the day. Without missing a beat, he said, ‘That’s fine. I am not looking for a house keeper, I want a wife!’ Good answer!
I gave him four conditions before marriage. A prenup of sorts, if you will. He needed to buy me a pillow (the guy thinks pillows are evil incarnates for neck bones, he still doesn’t use one) an apartment with a balcony, salt and sugar in the pantry (he is one of those fanatics who tries to keep salt and sugar out of his diet, not normal, I say) and take me out to dinner at least four times a week. I was partly kidding, I would have married him anyway! But the good man took me seriously and tried to meet my requirements. He only failed to procure an apartment with balconies, our first apartment was on the fifteenth floor with big, wall to wall glass windows. I loved it.
True to his words, he came home from work and cooked dinner for both of
us while I stood beside him, enchanting him with my mesmerizing company! OK, I may have chopped a tomato or two… badly. Over the weekends he vacuumed, did the laundry. And on top of that, we went out to eat at least four times a week. Things were going great. There was one little problem, though. My husband is a delightful man, he is funny, loving, super smart but somewhat lacking in culinary repertoire. Our mornings started with oatmeal, he made tuna fish sandwiches for lunch and the same type of pasta every evening. Now that I think of it, it might have been a ploy to get me into the thick of things! Did I say he is super smart? After a few months of eating out, my palate craved for some comfort food, yet repelled at the thought of oatmeal, tuna fish and pasta……repeat. Tentatively, I went to an Indian grocery store and bought some dal (lentil) and basmati rice. Called home to acquire culinary knowledge, finally armed with wisdom from far away India, I put one cup of rice, two cups of water on the stove and watched with awe as the rice changed shape and size. That doesn’t quite portray me in a very good light, does it? But you’ve got to admire the honesty. I cooked the dal too, with simplest of ingredients. Then waited for my husband to come home. He went overboard with the praise. Another ploy, to push me in the direction of domesticity, methinks. But I will pretend his jubilation was genuine!
Things started to change from then on. Slowly but steadily, I learnt to cook. After a lot of trials and errors, I could produce a half decent meal, but nothing to write home about, which, by the way, I didn’t. As I said earlier, those were not my crowning glory days. I was embarrassed that I hadn’t learnt to do these domestic chores. I congratulated my mother-in-law on raising her son well, while I gnashed my teeth at my own parents for not making me cook and clean at home. Gotta blame someone!!! I also vouched my kids will be totally self-sufficient by age 5!
I grew up in a middle class home in India where I was expected to go to school, do my homework, practice my music and then study some more. Cooking, cleaning, laundry was done by domestic help. I grew up with the mantra that I had to finish my education, a master’s degree at the very least, get a job and then marry, in that order. That’s exactly what I did, the only difference being, I ended up marrying a non-Indian, and leaving the land of domestic help! That wasn’t in the plans, but hey, such is life….unpredictable. And people have done worse for love!
After 15 years and two kids, I am now a pro! You should me see whizzing around the kitchen, helping Sahana with a math problem, listening to Ryan read, and whipping up a meal, all at the same time. Talk about multi tasking. The cleaning….well, one can’t be good at everything! I am a complete suburban, swimming mom (not soccer mom anymore, kid gave up soccer). I cook casseroles, bake cookies from scratch, mow the lawn, dress in sweats, and drive a minivan! You can’t get more suburban than that! Yet, the other day, when a friend said ‘Gosh, you are so domesticated’ after hearing I baked a cookie cake for Ryan’s birthday, it stung! Growing up, my parents aspired me to be someone, do something worthwhile. I truly believe I am doing something worthwhile, being home for the children. Yet when some one puts a label on it, domesticated, I don’t quite love the sound of it. Before we had children, my husband and I decided one of us would stay home and be the primary care giver. He really wanted to be the one, but he was making so much more money than me. Poor guy had to keep his job, while I quit mine. Started a job that required commitment 24/7! After hearing my dilemma with the word
‘domesticated’ Sean said he would love to be called that, can he please stay home and be domesticated while I brought the bacon home? The idea of putting make-up on every morning and leaving my spouse with the kids and dirty dishes sounded pretty appealing for a while, then the memory of oatmeal, tuna fish, pasta pattern came back with a vengeance to haunt me! No way, Jose! See ya in the evening, honey! I would revel in my domesticity. Off to bake an apple pie – FROM SCRATCH!
And this is a proof of my culinary expertise. Baked French toast with pecans on top since I never took pictures of the apple pies that I baked. Just had to post it. Call it vanity!