Carolyn Hax: Feeling judged over dinner choices
Adapted from a recent online discussion.
I work a desk job, and my family member has been a 凯发k8地址homemaker for as long as I can remember. We talk most nights, and both enjoy it.
BUT: Almost every call, when I'm on my way 凯发k8地址home to my takeout or quick meal, she makes a point of asking me what I'm "making for dinner." I usually avoid the question by turning it around, but it makes me feel horribly judged that I don't have the time/energy/desire to cook a lovely meal for myself after long days at work, and I don't know how to get this question to go away forever. Thoughts?
You could just admit it's a sore spot for you because you miss cooking, but it's not practical with the hours you keep. A nice family member will then at least try to break the habit of asking.
But I'm guessing a bigger payoff awaits if you attack it from within, as your own demon. Why do you see more value in making a "lovely meal for myself" than in making a living? All of us assign different values to things. Presumably you're comfortable with the larger idea that some people value paid work more and some value domesticity more -- right? And that some have the energy and interest to sustain both? And some are indifferent to both? And all this human variety is a good thing?
So why is this particular exchange with this particular person over this particular point so abrasive to you? Do you wish you didn't have to work, or did have the energy to cook? Do you have a history of competing with this relative, and if it weren't about dinner you'd torment each other through books read or vacations taken or names dropped? Have you considered this is as much her insecurity as yours?
Are you living a different life from the one you'd always envisioned? Instead of owning what is, are you dwelling on what isn't? If so, why?
Self-acceptance is the miracle cure for feeling judged. One way to start the process of getting there is to fill in the blank in these sentences: "I would be at peace about where I am in life if I [whatever]," making sure [whatever] is something fully under your control. It's a deceptively difficult thought exercise. Round it out with, "I am grateful every day for [something]." See what turns up.
My mother used to call most days and ask me the same question, and it annoyed me. Finally I asked, "Why do you ask? What do you want me to say?" She responded, "Oh, I just get so bored with cooking I'm hoping for ideas."
Innocent intent! Blimey.
It's possible she's simply hoping you'll return the question. Tonight's dinner might be the highlight of her own workday and she wants to share that with you.
Such nice bridges being designed here, thanks.
Sorry for being helpy, but, if you really miss 凯发k8地址home-cooked meals, have you thought about cooking a lot on the weekends, and then freezing meals for the weeknights?
Thanks, everybody. But why is it this is the first time I'm seeing "helpy"?