Over the past few months, I’ve been working on cleaning up the archives of Dear Wendy, deleting and making private a lot of stuff that no longer needs to be read or discovered in Google searches. Last week, I re-published one of my favorite kinds of posts that I recently re-discovered that starts as a question and leads to lots of interesting little personal stories. Many of you seem to enjoy those kinds of posts, too, so I’ll be re-publishing more on a regular basis.
I found this one this morning as I was, ironically, thinking about what to cook for dinner tonight and what I need to go pick up at the grocery store. I’m happy to report that five years after I first published this, meal prep is no longer a conflict in my relationship. The bad news is that I still live with picky young eaters and Drew is just a little more comfortable in the kitchen, which means I still do most of the meal planning and prep. The good news is that I just don’t give a shit anymore. Like, I’m going to cook what I want to eat and am in the mood for, and anyone who doesn’t want to eat is welcome to fix something else for themselves. For Jackson, that means he can make himself a fried egg sandwich or instant ramen, and for Joanie, she can have toast and string cheese and some fruit and no one is bothered, everyone is fed, and life goes on. It took me way too long to figure it out, but I’m finally here: life is easier if you quit sweating the small stuff. Marriages benefit, your kids benefit, your health benefits if you just quit sweating the small stuff.
Like I said, it took me so many years to get to this understanding and I’m not sure whether it’s simple maturity, if it was living through a pandemic and the trauma around that, if it’s a result of years now of therapy, or maybe it’s some combination of these things and others, but however it happened, I am very relieved to be on the other side of a life-long pursuit of meeting my own expectations. I never met them; I just let go of them and that has made an enormous difference in my mental well-being.
Anyway, this post, originally published in 2018, isn’t explicitly about that, but maybe it sort of is.
A recent study from the Council of Contemporary Families (CCF), a nonprofit that studies family dynamics, examined a variety of different household tasks, including shopping, laundry, and housecleaning, and found that, for women in heterosexual relationships, one chore caused more stress and conflict in their relationship than any other household task. That task is…
Is this true for your domestic relationships? I’d say for me, personally, it’s meal preparation. And that may partly be because we have a dishwasher, so I don’t find washing dishes to be such a chore. But I do find meal preparation for a family of four, including two young, picky eaters, to be a pain in the ass. If only we didn’t need to eat three meals a day. If only more healthy meals could be made in a matter of minutes. If only my kids didn’t need their own separate meals because they don’t eat more than chicken nuggets, pizza, scrambled eggs, and peanut butter. If only I had a partner who felt more confident and comfortable cooking. I mean, it’s not the end of the world or whatever, but there are definitely a few days every month when I am so totally over preparing meals for my family and wish I had a little more support with that chore.
Dishes, though? Eh, not a big deal.
(Oh, and folding laundry is awful, too, but Drew is great about doing that.)