From home cooking to spiritual direction, here's how I'm finding peace in the most stressful room of my house
This was meandering, but isn’t that how our brains work - especially my brain as a wife and mom of three and full time home manager. I don’t always self-reflect well and, like you, I am a slow processor. Imagine my surprise the other day when what was supposed to be a short conversation with my husband about the logistics of an upcoming ladies trip (reprieve from full time mommying) turned into a 2-hour feelings dump. There was anger, there was tears, there was relief, and there was MUCH self discovery. I like to be prepared so it annoys me when I learn things about myself out loud as I’m saying them. At the end of the day, tears and all, it was a wonderful conversation that left me feeling seen and known and more connected than ever to my husband. I guess in the daily work of raising 3 young kids my decision fatigue has left me a little less introspective, and now I know if you neglect that important work, it will find a way to bubble out.
This really resonates with me. I am trying to get back into the kitchen after offloading the responsibility to my husband during the pandemic (he's too busy professionally right now for dependable meal-making). I struggle with joint pain in my hands and wrists from an autoimmune disease and realize that this has held me back for many years in the kitchen. I had an aha moment a few weeks ago that new knives (sharper and easier to use), an electric can opener, and a few other gadgets (plus employing my eager eleven-year-old) could really help me out when cooking. I carry a lot of shame from my chronic condition, and your essay is really prompting me to consider the ways I can navigate this frustration and enjoy cooking again.
My pan-of-shame is all the unfinished projects/ideas.
My shame pot has been the crock pot. Yes, the easy-everyone-can-cook-with-it-crock pot. I remember how excited I was when we first got married and I was gifted my first ever, crock pot. But wouldn’t you know it...every piece of meat I cooked in it turned out dry. Every crock pot meal was lacking. I was embarrassed and shamed myself for my lack of crock pot skills. I asked for help from seasoned kitchen cooks using crock pots telling me all the things to do and not to do and no matter what I did or didn’t do, the crock pot meal sucked. Eventually, I blamed the crock pot. After years of failure, I dropped it off at Goodwill and bought a new one. The new one produced the same results. That’s when I knew it was the cook and not the cooker!
The shame turned into a blessing because now my husband cooks more! He was tried of all the dried out meat 😉 but even he’s a little wary of the crock pot. 🤣
I relate to this very much. These questions are so helpful, as is reading your process! Thank you for sharing. The kitchen is a place I’ve put in my mental “reflect on someday soon” box. Right now, another area feels more immediately pressing and provokes shame daily--my many to-do lists! I’ve reflected and tried a few different things but it continues to be an annoying hum in the background of my mental space. I want to find some “open, free space” in this area.
Emily, yes to the shame pan! I feel like I invented “girl dinner” 20 years ago because I didn’t care much about making dinner for 1 at the time.
Fast forward to raising 2 kids with my husband, he works evenings (cooking at a restaurant) and I’m home staring at unused cookware in my kitchen wondering what’s for dinner. (My stovetop popcorn pan gets the most use from me!) But thanks to your reflection I can I see there’s definitely feelings of shame attached to my abilities in the kitchen.
You wrote, “Our feelings of inadequacy keep us from trying things we may love, things that may be an important part of our vocation, not to mention our spiritual formation.” This resonates with me because in theory I value hospitality, but my shame around not being a great chef (in comparison to friends of mine and even my husband) has kept me frozen in place.
Thank you for these reflections! I hope they bring others some freedom too!
I can personally relate to this. Currently, i'm really struggling with decision fatigue/guilt when it comes to cooking. I want to make good wholesome meals for my family that are somewhat healthy. However, convince and the price of groceries I struggle with. It's expensive to buy really good quality meats, fruits, veggies and to cook them all into a good meal. It's also sometimes very time consuming and when I get home from work and I (my husband does not cook) have to do all the cooking it gets exhausting and overwhelming. Thus, sometimes I wish we could just cook a frozen pizza!
My shame pan experience was an unfortunate clothing decision. It occurred when I bought a summer dress in a fun tangerine orange color. Why did I listen to the saleswoman who told me it looked great despite my strawberry red hair? I then bought accessories to match the dress and paid a seamstress to take the dress in. Only after investing all this did I realize how the dress made me feel: gullible, silly, wasteful, definitely un-chic, and even anxious because of the aforementioned gullibility, silliness, and wastefulness. That was one expensive dress financially and emotionally. After letting it hide in the closet unworn for a year I finally gave it away. Whew!
I have a blended family since October. Some dats there are two of us, some days four and some days five people to feed. I don't like cooking and I am a chronic pain patient.
I try to meal plan but my whole cooking feels like a pan-of-shame 😊
I've kind of avoided cooking all together since the pandemic and I don't know why. I'll make simple things burgers etc. I used to bake bread a lot and I loved doing that, baked a lot more, cooked more complicated meals and then the Pandemic came and I haven't ventured back to the level of cooking I used to love.
I was secretly hoping that you decided to pitch the pan of shame because that is where I am at in my own journey: letting go of things that no longer serve me and trying to reclaim my kitchen space. It is dirty and disorganized and a constant source of frustration to me. But now I can’t wait to see if you’ll be able to restore your pan. Restoration is a beautiful thing either way.
Thank you for walking thru your approach - it’s so helpful and I can apply to many areas in my life. I can say I’ve battled the shame I carried for years because I DO NOT LIKE TO COOK and I was always embarrassed of my efforts. Solved the shame issued by asking husband to cook all our meals and it gives me opportunity to lavish him with praise (he’s a great cook!) and I clean up the kitchen (I don’t mind cleaning!). I’m looking forward to the Chronicles Vol 2
Well...I think I have learned much grace with myself over the years. However shame came early that I should have my ‘stuff’ together when it comes to the kitchen and take care of my man! And later kids! Important people said hurtful things and that has never truly left me. So I kind of gave up on creativity which I love in all things for the efficient and it’s brought a lot of drudgery. I also got stuck in the familiar meals because I moved past some of the shame and taught my hubby those meals which is a good thing! But also my kids have craved the familiar since we lived overseas and they had to try and eat Hungarian food at their school lunch every day...So I have worked through the shame but it came so early in my marriage and after I had lost my mother and encourager so I know it still is lurking there...I will be doing the self-supervision to work through this! Thanks epf 🫂🙌
Add me to the list of those with a shame pan.
My decision fatigue in the kitchen comes from having kids who refuse to eat. I love food, I love trying new food, and I love the reward of seeing satisfied eaters after I’ve cooked a meal. It feels defeating to put effort into a meal and have a kid choose a sandwich instead. What’s worse than that is putting effort into a meal plan where I TRY to satisfy my family’s tastes and they still refuse to eat. I’ve approach this dilemma from many different angles, but I’m still looking for the approach that isn’t life-draining.
My shame pan was rushing home after a full day at work, and trying to make a meal for 7 and then dash off to the next event and not finding any joy or satisfaction in doing any of it even half well. So when my husband entered a new profession, it also changed our schedule and now he cooks and I clean up. Recently, I've discovered how grounding it is for me to clean up. It slows my actual heart rate down and sets up me up for a more peaceful evening in my soul and my body. Thank you for walking us through your process on self-supervision. I've recently learned my spiritual director needs to take a leave of absence for an undetermined period of time, so these questions might help me along while I figure out what my next right thing will be.
I do not like cooking at all! I did it for many years, raising four kids, but never enjoyed it. From 2017-2020 my husband (now in heaven) did all the cooking and I worked. He purchased a cast iron Dutch oven. I hated it from day one. Never used it. My daughter likes to cook and bake. She used it. Didn’t clean it properly and it also turned strange colors (rust!). It got put aside and she said she would take care of it. Well,it sat for a long time and finally I threw it in the garbage!
I felt some guilt about doing that. But mostly I felt free! My daughter wasn’t too happy about it!