Salt in the Wound
My inadequacies as a wife are extensive. For some reason though, I was able to evade this humbling truth for exactly 12 months and 29 days after I said “I do.” But today Michael pointed out nonchalantly that the ham-bone and bean soup I brewed yesterday was “missing something.... maybe salt?”
This is a small thing. But today I realized that nearly every meal I’ve made for the past 12 months and 29 days has been lacking in some way, whether small, (a little bland) or more drastic (burnt pot roast plastered to the inside of its baking dish.) The consistency doesn’t turn out just like Mom’s. It’s a little dryer than I’ve had it before. It looks nothing like the picture in the cookbook. It’s overdone. It’s underdone. It’s soggy. It’s my cooking.
This salt comment certainly wasn’t made to hurt my feelings, but I saw every insufficient quality I had reflected back at me in the murky mirror of a tasteless soup concocted of animal carcass and pinto beans. Like a bat smacking into a donkey piñata and littering the ground with candy, in that moment everything I sucked at (not crying over stupid things, not keeping a very tidy home, not being able to say no to sweets for any impressive amount of time…) exploded out of some repressed, logical, “it doesn’t matter you’re fine” portion of my brain and I was showered with a variety of shameful emotions that collectively ended up making me say something along the lines of:
Then I started crying.
Now naturally, the dear sweet man I married was puzzled at my reaction to his offhanded comment. I think he was torn between stifled amusement and concern. I’ve cried over some pretty uncry-worthy things. But this most definitely took the cake. (Speaking of which, on his birthday I tried to make him cheesecake. We decided it tasted more like marshmallow cream on graham cracker crust. I tried. I failed.)
I am a good person. I know that. He loves me. I know that too. So why, why, why, do I verbally abuse myself every time my fried egg comes out looking scrambled?
But maybe I’m asking the wrong question. Maybe I should be asking:
Why do I keep trying to fry an egg when I know I’m not spatula-savvy enough to maneuver the thing without destroying it?
Why do I continue to flip through my cook book laden with perfect pictures of “delicious and easy-to-make meals” even after the disaster of mistaking a clove of garlic for a bulb? (The chicken soup recipe called for six cloves…after chopping up three bulbs containing probably ten cloves each, I thought “Surely this is enough.” It was the most pungent and disgusting soup we’ve ever tasted.)
Why do I keep baking cookies that are beautiful enough to be on the front of a homemakers magazine and hard enough to crack open a skull?
Somewhere along the way I decided that a good wife had certain qualifications. Cooking, decorating, housekeeping… they were all at the top of the list. But here’s the kicker. Michael doesn’t have the same list. I do these things because I love him. When I fail, (which is often) I feel like I’m disappointing him in some significant way. But he touches my hair and tells me,
“You’re my perfect match.”
And he means it. Botched egg, bland soup, overly-sensitive and flawed as I am.