I’m sitting here in the waiting room of the doctor’s office, where I just had a needle plunged into my flesh. Now I have to wait thirty minutes to make sure I don’t have an anaphylactic reaction. I’ve done this at least once a month for the last two and a half years, ever since we got my kids a dog. For the first year, my arms blew up until they were three times their normal size. Yes, it’s annoying. And no, I don’t even love the dog. But I wouldn’t call it suffering– more of an endurable annoyance, something I do for my kids.
You know what annoyance I find unendurable? The one that happens every night around 5pm, when it’s time to find something to feed my family again. In the twenty years I’ve been married, I’ve made many thousands of dinners, and it almost never brings me joy. Back in the day when I was a newlywed, making dinner was a fun challenge– I’d try out new recipes, hoping to hone my skills. Dinner table conversation was a kind of foreplay. And then I had kids. And more kids. And more kids. And those kids grew up, and pretty soon I got to the point where the dinner table conversations usually went something like this (which actually happened here last night):
12yo: What are we having for dinner tonight?
Me: Egg salad sandwiches on croissants.
12yo: Do you care if I order a pizza?
Yes, I care. Of course I care! If I go to the effort of planning, shopping for and preparing a meal for eight people, I darn well want them to eat it. But, truth be told, I’d rather eat pizza too. It’s easier. It’s less effort on my part. The leftovers aren’t poisonous the next day if someone leaves them on the counter overnight (which happened here). And, yes, it’s tastier.
I know, it’s January, and I should be resolving to make healthier meals, to gather my children around the table more often for meaningful conversation and gospel instruction, but why can’t my New Year’s Resolution be to have our family eat out more often?
I can cook. I’m actually a pretty good cook. I just don’t want to. I don’t want to cook while I’m supervising homework or worry about what is in the oven while I’m driving people places, and I’m downright terrified of the Instant Pot after seeing many friends post pictures of theirs with cryptic captions like “House hasn’t gone up in a mushroom cloud… Yet.”
This sloth comes to me from a long line of ancestors. My great-grandmother specialized in tv dinners. My grandmother in Lean Cuisine. When my mom returned to working full-time a few years ago, she told my dad the condition of her employment was that she would not be making dinner at all any more. And she hasn’t. She’s still the person to count on for a gourmet showstopper of a birthday cake, but her Wednesday night meatloaf is more likely to come from Boston Market.
What are the everyday annoyances of your life that bring you suffering? If you’re a recovering dinner-time martyr, how did you recover your equilibrium?