A conversation with my young friend brought something to my mind that I'd like to explore a little bit.
She said that cooking just feels like more work.
I get that. I really do. I love cooking, don't get me wrong, but I love cooking FOR people. Cooking for myself is likely to result in some kale chips, a little rice and some wine.
But I love cooking. I love making foods that make people close their eyes and savor. Or making something that makes the person I am feeding know I made it especially for them.
My Sweet Hubs has a sweet tooth. How many teeth does a human being have? 32? (He didn't have to have his wisdom teeth pulled, so...32?) Well, in my darling man, 31.5 of those are sweet. Me, I could live without ever tasting another cookie or cupcake and my life would be undiminished. But not him.
So I bake for him pretty regularly. Because he loves it. Because he's a hot hardbody who burns off any calorie within shouting distance. Because I love him. I bake fairly healthy treats for him with a minimum of overly processed ingredients and NEVER something like marshmallow cream. Ugh.
But what do you do when you are cooking for you and you alone?
Cooking is love, people. Like many young women, I think my young friend feels that internal struggle between what she deserves and what she ought to and what she wants to and what others tell her she must. And, forgive me, I might be guilty of telling her what she ought to, too. I want her to learn to love to cook, for it's pure creative pleasure, yes. But also because I can think of no better way to take charge of your own health than to take charge of what you eat.
Oh, and then... and THEN! Like I wasn't struggling enough with wanting to take her by the hand and step in as her surrogate momma and teach her about how to love to cook? THEN she tells me that she doesn't like to cook but would happily clean any time.
Well, butter my butt and call me a friggin biscuit. I need to adopt her. I'd love to cook for her and I'd damn sure love to have someone around who was happy to clean. Because you know, as my Momma said, you can tell how good a cook someone is by how big a mess they make while cooking. And I must be one damn fine cook by that measure.
The reality is, she is a grown woman with a rich and vibrant life of her own. How does a grown, lone person find it within themselves to make cooking a happy, high thing in their life?
I wish I knew. I have always had plenty of someones to cook for in my world. Even now that it's just Sweet Hubs and me in our long-empty nest, I know the value of having someone to cook for.
And while we're talking about it, do you know what it means when someone is cooking for you? Do you appreciate the care and creativity and love that is inherent in that seemingly-simple act? People don't cook for you because you need to be fed. Any fool can microwave you something to fill your belly. If someone loves you enough to really COOK for you, please run to them right now and hug them.
That lady who brings homemade cookies in to everyone in the office? That is a truly loving thing to do. Please do show her how much you appreciate her effort, even if, like me, you are immune to cookies. The measure of her love is not in my lack of a sweet tooth, but in her labor. Even if they taste exactly like hockey pucks, she put her love into them.
Part of being human is to care about the people around us. For some of us, we get to show that regularly by cooking for you. Because we love you.
To my young, work-weary friend who doesn't need one more job: no, you don't have to cook for yourself to treat yourself well. You can make good food choices even if others (businesses) do your cooking for you. But if you come to the place where you do want to cook for yourself, it is an act of self-esteem to know that YOU are worth your own efforts.