Friday, May 26, 2006

Mushy Carrots and the Debate about Perfection

This week Mike and I had a bit of an argument. Not a fight where there was screaming or anything. Just a civil debate.

It all started because I had made a nutritious and delicious stir fry for dinner. Instead of commenting on how yummy the meal was, Mike took out all of his baby carrots, the best part, offered them to me and said “they are too crispy. I like my carrots mushy.”

If I were a calm and civilized person by nature I would have taken that in stride and perhaps thought to myself, that yes, I should have pre-cooked them so they were less crispy. Or, maybe I should omit them next time.

Yeah, right.

I was furious.

Every single day I pick May up at daycare and suffer through an often-unpleasant subway and bus ride with a sometimes cranky toddler and then get home to plan and make dinner. Mike comes in about 15 minutes after me to dinner mid-preparation, Matthew usually happy with a snack or a drink, sometimes helping me (safely) cook or sometimes playing or watching tv.

And I don't ask for any assistance. I think it's a pretty nice house for Mike to come home to.

Most of the time this is okay to me. But, when my meal gets criticized, even if it is about the correct carrot mushiness, I get annoyed.

Why?

Because I work really hard. And because the compliments are few and far between. And, I’m tired of it.

In fact I am tired in general. Yes, there are more breaks with a toddler than with a newborn. And, being a working mom I have the luxury of going to the bathroom alone, of savouring a cup of coffee on a quiet day, and even occasionally going shopping on lunch if we’re not busy,.

But, I always feel like I am in a time crunch.

We’re out the door at 7. I’m at work around 8:10. I stress if I am later than usual picking my son up, and then I stress if the subway is delayed because it means dinner will be late which means that Matt will get to bed late which means he won’t get enough sleep.

All these things go on in my head, and when part of my routine is criticized, inadvertently or not, I crack.

I brought this issue up with my sister and another friend. We meet informally every few weeks as a group to chat about life and motherhood and stuff, and laugh about all the stupid issues that we could be annoyed about. And we often e-mail back and forth. So, in one of our e-mails I mentioned the carrot episode.

The comment that Ketly made seemed pretty astute to me. She said that I don’t need to look at the whole dinner thing as my responsibility, nor do I need to look at it as something that is my job. (She also pointed out the crispy carrots probably have a lot more nutrients!!)

Profound.

I think I put a lot of pressure on myself to do everything and be everything. No matter what anyone says, there is a lot of guilt about being a working mom. I try to be pleasant and happy with my son for the time I am with him, but it can be hard when I am trying to be perfect in so many other areas.

The other day my doctor actually told me that sometimes it’s okay to be stressed in front of Matty. She explained that his watching me deal with stress will show him how to deal with stress himself.

So, where does that leave me?

I don’t really know.

I know I should probably let a few more things go just a little bit. Like, maybe I don’t need to worry quite so much about the state of cleanliness of my bathroom, whether or not I journal every single thing I eat and whether or not Matt’s clothes match perfectly. I could try not to schedule every weekend as much as I do and I could accept that if we leave the house 15 minutes late one day and I have to send an e-mail saying I will be a couple minutes late to work that the world will not end.

I’m not sure whether that would make me a better person, better wife, or most importantly a better mother.

I honestly think it may make me a little more stressed because if the bathroom isn’t clean, Matt looks like a wreck and I am late for work I will just be angry. And, I think angry is worse than stressed.

I think.

So, for now I think I will try to accept that all of these things are my quirks.

I also think that tonight I will not cook dinner. Maybe we will eat fruit and cottage cheese and bagels or maybe we will get some take-out or maybe even attempt going to a restaurant. (Okay, the last one may be a bad idea).

But I am not, absolutely not, stressing about the state of my carrots any longer, or whether my pork chops are properly seasoned, if the chicken is properly marinated or, really, if every member of my household is enjoying the meal I provide.

And, I will also not be so sensitive over such stupid, unintentional comments. Or, at least I will try not to be.

We’ll see if it works.

2 comments:

Heather said...

I hear you loud and clear. I can realte to almost everything you've written. Crisp carrots! I can't even make a stir fry without hearing about how all the presidents choice sauces I use are far too sweet. I mean if I had time to whip up my own sauce I would!
I didn't cook dinner tonight, despite the fact that I was begged to. I took the night off. Husband microwaved us some dinner. Thanks Hun what a great meal, you really went out of your way.
As for a clean house, well, I've toned my perspective on that down a little....just a little. I can't truly be happy in a messy house. Toys, I have no problem with. Dirty dishes when I cook dinner...PROBLEM.
Love the hubby, but I hear you loud and clear.

kate said...

Seems to me that you have already thought of a lot of the solutions yourself. Yea for YOU! Simplifying the menu, stressing less, letting hubby take a turn (and trying not to make comments when HE cooks) could make for a far better evening for all concerned. Cut yourself some slack so you can enjoy the wonderful family that you have!