When I was in high school, or maybe just after, I used to watch a show called “Can’t Cook, Won’t Cook”. Ainsley Harriot running around talking to people while they chopped and salted and 15 minutes later there was a thoroughly edible something on the plate. Back then, I liked cooking as a spectator sport. I could cook sausage and mash, and various sorts of pasta dishes. I couldn’t fry an egg. My lack of cooking skills didn’t bother me.
But I am good at following a recipe. And by the time I met The Dude, my skills had increased. I could roast chicken and make risotto and well, follow a recipe. So it was sort of true when I told him I could cook. Although I still couldn’t fry an egg.
In the first few years of our marriage, my skills improved. I could do a mean bolognaise sauce. Chicken seventy zillion ways. Leftovers tasted better than ever. Because when Little Person was younger, we could feed a little bit of what we had. It wasn’t a problem.
But for the last few years, that hasn’t worked. My perfectly tasty and nutritious meals would be refused. And considering that my energy was being sapped by trying to just be the parent, it was tough. For a while I essentially stopped cooking. We lived on ready meals and eating out and if you were lucky, I made a soup.
I can’t change Little Person’s autism. I can’t make the sensory issues around food go away. I can be quietly relieved that she likes crunchy stuff.
Here’s where all this ramble leads me. Society tells me that to be a good wife and mother, especially as I don’t have a career, I need to be cooking for my family. Society says that’s one warm and nutritious meal that we all share together. You know, like all the adverts on TV. (Ironically enough those are frequently for convenience foods – anybody else notice that?) But as a motivation, that stinks. I’m lined up to fail before I even begin.
Honestly, the thought of cooking all those meals and trying to keep everybody happy is enough to drive me to drink. Which wouldn’t be good for anybody. And don’t even get me started on meal planning (I may have tried a million times on that one).
So I decided to forget about the family meals. Autism is difficult enough without adding the sensory social challenges of daily family meals to the list. Little Person eats well enough when we are out and about. That’s good enough.
And having decided that, I suddenly have the freedom to enjoy cooking again. I can do it as a creative love thing, a practical meditative prayer thing. I’m not trying to be more than I am. I don’t have anything to prove. And somehow, cooking healthy meals is back on the table.