I’ve closed my kitchen for a while. Tonight will be a fair well meal. As is evident in my total lack of posting anything, I can finally put a finger on why.
I hate cleaning.
I don’t know many people that like it. They might like the results, so their labour is out voted against the pleasure of clean surfaces. Not me. I love a clean kitchen, mostly so I can cook something delicious. And that’s what I did l yesterday. I cooked breakfast for my small family: scrambled eggs with bacon, and some fried tomatoes for me. Simple. Effective. We then spend the WHOLE DAY cleaning the house. I washed all the dishes. Picked up all the toys. My husband vacuumed the house, and we washed a few loads of Mount Washmore in the laundry. The house looked a lot neater. The kitchen had some bench space. So I prepped a roast and put it on.
On the scheme of things, roasts are low maintenance and, importantly, low on incidental dishes. Thanks to my new food processor, a Breville Kitchen Wizz™ Pro, cutting veggies too only seconds, after I peeled the potatoes (and my fingers) with the (world’s deadliest) peeler. It was in and cooking in a few short minutes, thanks to a Hugh’s 3 Good Things recipe, with nothing left to do but have a birth skills session with the Red Earth Birth Doula (did I mention I’m pregnant? Only 6 or so weeks left before our family of three becomes a family of four), a trip to the hardware store, and then relax a bit in a sunny room next to the fire place. You know what made it easier to do? A problem shared is a problem halved: we did it together. As a family. Even Sparrow picked up his toys & put them away to the toy box, picked up dirty clothes and put them in the laundry, and then helped with the vacuuming (albeit while wearing ear muffs, because I’m sure our vacuum cleaner violates noise safety codes). It’s always easier to do the hard stuff if we’re doing it together.
Fast forward to the finishing touches on dinner, and I start to get antsy. I can feel a level of frustration rising, bubbling up from an unrecognised source. I start snapping at my loved ones. This short tempered cooking has been going on for a few weeks, and even caused a total family meltdown once. I thought it was the aching pelvis, or the enormous weight on my front, or my sore shoulders caused by a body preparing to nourish a newborn, or maybe even hormones: that poor old scapegoat that shoulders the blame of many a ‘lady-breakdown’. A convenient way for both women and men alike to not recognise and take responsibility in their part to play in the lead up to a blow out. Or maybe it’s just the exhaustion of being a stay at home mum who hasn’t had a full nights sleep in over 3 years. And maybe it’s a combination of those things.
Or maybe, the problem isn’t all internal. Maybe, the mealtime crabbiness is an expression of dissatisfaction stemming from external sources. As I pondered my feelings of irritation last night and today, it has become clear that although I love cooking for my family and friends, I have reached a point where I can’t continue while I am the sole person cleaning up afterwards. Yes: you read that right. It is all left to me. Every dish, every fork, every pan. Not just the stuff that needs to soak. Not just the not-quite-full dishwasher that is loaded up, but needs a sprinkle of breakfast dishes to warrant running the machine. Everything. And I’ve had enough.
I’m tired of hearing ‘thank you’, I’m over hearing ‘Wow!! Put that in the family recipe book because that was amazing’, and I can live a life time of never hearing dishes licked clean, or people popping up for seconds & thirds. All joy I get toiling over a stove, or burning myself on a hot over, or peeling my own skin off in parts, and the complements at the end of a meal are all small weights against the task that follows. Hours of solo cooking matched by hours of solo cleaning. Solo cleaning that doesn’t get a ‘thank you for cleaning all of that mess so that you can cook and clean again the next day for my dinner’. Don’t get me wrong here. I don’t want verbal praise for washing dishes. Not in the slightest. What I dream of is physical assistance to clean these dishes. Someone to stand next to me to dry the pots as the come out of the hot soapy water I’m scalding my hands on.
So tonight is the last hoorah. No more elaborate meals from some of Australia’s best cooking magazines. No more recipes will be googled to feed a specific and foreign whim, while pondering what substitutions I can make to achieve the same flavours. And my food-based Pinterest boards will lay idle, gathering e-dust. My piles of magazines will be slowly redistributed to doctors waiting rooms across the town. And my recipe books will continue to mulch in piles around the house until I can bear to part with them.
I’ve no idea on what to cook tonight. My zest for meal planning was vaporised weeks ago, and I’m left with a few veggies in the crisper. I’ll update later with a decision, but I can promise it won’t be a grand affair. Just a quiet and easily cleaned farewell to my passion.
Satay chicken & fried rice. That’s all the inspiration I could muster.