I’m inexplicably tired this evening so while my mom visits and Ralph bustles about making dinner I lay on the couch under a blanket. I feel vaguely nauseated so I’m giving myself permission to rest. An hour earlier I’d been trying to do some work, and after a bit of that I’d realized I was floating in an odd trance. One difference between me today and me of not-that-long-ago is that before I might have rested just as I’m doing now, but I’d feel terribly guilty doing it. OK, I still do feel a little guilty. See, the Guilty Monster inside me is still trying to blot out my existance and my conscious contact with God.
Dinner was incredible. Ralph made some kind of corn butter rice, lemon broccoli, and cedar-planked salmon, the latter of which was the most tender and delicately-flavored salmon I’ve ever, ever had. It was seriously amazing. Wedges of perfectly-ripe cantaloupe completed the meal. All five of us sat down and shared repast and conversation and after that the kids packed their suitcases, kissed me goodbye, and headed to my mother’s.
Ralph is very good at following recipes. He doesn’t take shortcuts if he can avoid it. It pays off. He is a very good cook because he has learned alongside me over these years (although he doesn’t seem to think he has) and he has a more exacting and precise methodology than I.
I haven’t mentioned here (yet) that for the last six days or so I’ve barely cooked. Ralph has taken over the job of meal planning and preparation – now his territory for the nearby future. This means he plans out what to eat and makes grocery lists, shops (a lot more than before, although I continue to do some), cooks and cleans. And me? I help. I let him have this job, but I help.
Oh shit, I am ambivalent about this all. But I am very sick and I am recovering. I also will mention I did the bulk of this work, like so many women in families, for… OH TEN FUCKING YEARS. I got so burnt out that I wasn’t even angry or resentful. I was just so so tired and confused. Even though in the past I’ve done this task well enough, the past few months I wasn’t very effective. My appetite had dwindled and my inspiration began to implode. My fridge was feast or famine and I drooped leaning against the door looking in, uninspired and uninterested. It was Sucktown, USA.
I am now the “helper” and Ralph the master. Last night I told him it was hard going for me to accept this – those old old labels of “selfish” keep rising up and yammering in my head. I have lost objectivity to know how fair it is for him to cook, as I told him, because he worked fulltime and it didn’t seem right (I can’t even believe I believe this, but old training is quite effective). To this he responded, “YOU work fulltime, taking care of yourself and keeping our children alive.”
The other day I asked him, Was this what it was like for ten years, you mostly got this great food and you didn’t have to think about it much? He said, “Yup, pretty much.” and we both laughed. Then he said, “I know I shouldn’t laugh, but, yeah. I was playing Legos with the kids.” I’m not mad about any of this but I’m kind of stunned. I’m just sick is all. I need time to myself and time to rest. And time to help others and time to be here for my family too. I have a backlog of not-resting. It’s kind of incredible. I could have lived this way a lot, lot longer, but I can no longer do so.
My appetite is returning. Slowly but surely. Tonight’s meal sure was simple and lovely and fun – for all of us.