On Saturday, when I realized that it was Sweetest Day about halfway through the afternoon, I had to rush out to the store to buy a box of double-fudge brownie mix.
Not because I am a true believer in Sweetest Day or a lover all of boxed baked goods, but because it’s tradition.
You see, this time exactly ten years ago, my husband and I celebrated our first Sweetest Day together after only a few weeks of dating. We had a low-key evening, with me inviting him over to watch a rented movie with me after we ate dinner with our respective families. In anticipation of our big evening, realizing that Sweetest Day is a totally lame holiday to begin with, especially if you’ve only been dating for a few weeks, but still wanting to do something special for him, I decided to go all Suzy Homemaker and bake my man a big pan of ooey, gooey double-chocolate brownies. Because, really–what man could resist that?
After we finished up dinner, I did my hair and make-up for the night (not too much, but a subtle, carefully-constructed casual look, of course) and gathered up my ingredients for my big cooking spree. I poured and mixed and carefully cracked eggs for what may have very well been the first time in my life.
And after an anxious 40 minutes of baking, with several open oven door panicked “checks” to see how they were coming along?
I had one disastrous, completely inedible pan of brownies.
It took me two more complete boxes — count `em, two – before I had a pan that was even remotely edible.
Now, of course, we laugh about that night (but, really, who messes up boxed brownies?) and enjoy a traditional pan of the chocolatey goodness in a fond remembrance every year of my well-intentioned culinary failures. But the truth is, if you really look closely at that night, it can point to the single biggest secret about our marriage today…
I can’t cook.
On any given night in our life, as the dinner hour approaches, you will find my husband standing in the kitchen, burners ablaze as he whips up a gourmet feast. Grilling, searing, seasoning, chopping — he is adept at it all. This is a man who watches “Barbecue University” on PBS with that weird guy with the mustache for fun, a man who gets excited when he gets to wake up early to smoke a piece of meat. A man who patiently tries to teach me, over and over again, the proper way to mince an onion. (I never get it right, no matter how many times he shows me).
The truth is, dear readers, that my husband is a better cook than me.
And for a long, long time, I quivered in fear about people finding out the truth about me and our marriage. I would nod politely and hide my face when my mother-in-law would praise “my” cooking during a dinner party, my husband shooting a sly smile at me. I worried that secretly, my husband resented me, his wife who can’t even chop an onion, for my lack of domestic skills. I felt like I was cheating, that I wasn’t a “real” wife because I couldn’t feed my man like he could feed himself. I mean, what kind of wife lets her husband cook dinner every night? (I’m guessing it’s the same kind of wife who can’t bake a pan of boxed brownies…)
And because I’m a woman and a mother living a life entrenched in guilt, I feel the need to explain myself a little: it’s not like I leave my poor husband stranded in the kitchen each night while I kick my feet up with a good book and a glass of wine. But I have, other than my tried-and-true crock pot and one-pot-wonder meals, been demoted to the role of the primary sous chef. I do the meal planning and the shopping and the prepping and the table setting and the side-dishing, but when it comes to the main attraction of every meal?
My husband takes the starring role.
And just like I’ve struggled with the guilt of having a husband who is a great, hands-on dad, I can admit that I’ve struggled with feeling like our marriage is somehow suffering because I’m not the one “doing it all.” Even with working from home full-time, working weekends as a nurse, staying home with our three children, and writing a book, I’m the woman. I’m supposed to cook, right? Surely, our marriage is a sham if I’m not bringing home the bacon and serving it up. Every man needs bacon!
Well, as it would turn out, my husband is perfectly fine frying up his own bacon. And is it would turn out, I can happily enjoy my husband’s bacon. Um, er, well, you know what I mean.
And maybe that makes me somehow less of a woman, or a wife, or heck, even a mother, but I’ve finally reached the point in my marriage where I’m OK with the fact that my husband is a better cook than me. In fact, I’m more than OK with it. I’m flat out grateful for it. I think that in a lot of ways, it’s been a blessing to our marriage. We truly work as a team, in so many ways.
So now you know my dirty little secret about my marriage.
I have a man that gets up with babies in the middle of the night, tells me I’m beautiful all the time, and cooks for me every night.
And now that I’m thinking about it…
I think that might just deserve another pan of brownies.
Image via radioedit/Flickr
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