Playing Housewife (or, I’d Rather Be Camping)

If “zen” is used (casually) to refer to a state of mind where you experience life as it is vs through the thoughts you have about your experiences, I have to wonder if being a housewife/husband is the fastest path to achieving a state of zen.

After all, I’ve heard stories of how zen masters teach achieving enlightenment by doing repetitive, unappreciated tasks that will only be undone and need to be done again.

One of the things I have been working on intensely is learning to leave behind my Type-A habits, be fully present, and really experience my life instead of missing what’s happening because I’m busy worrying about an imagined past or future.

I have run head-on into the most stubborn part of my Type-A traits recently. Having extended my leave of absence from my day job for another 6 months, there are some new developments in our lives:
We must re-learn how to carefully evaluate our spending decisions if we’re going to stick to the financial plan we made when I started my leave (personal leave comes with no pay).
This means one or both of us must cook more.
My husband is working long hours on his feet all day, so the cooking is falling to me.

Any of you who have read my blog for any length of time or who know me personally are probably aware of just how much I like to cook.

This is the crux of what I dislike about cooking (or any household chore): it’s a lot of effort for something that gets completely undone in only moments and then must be done all over again only to be undone once more. You are never done. You can never check it off your to-do list.

The incredible inefficiency of going in a continual circle makes me batty–it’s going backwards. I have an obsession with efficient, forward progression. It is my most Type-A tendency. Almost paradoxically, I would rather sit on the couch doing nothing than invest time and energy in a task that will have to be repeated–I become a Type-B when contemplating such a task!

There is nothing I struggle with more than going backwards.

So far, I have tried to counter this feeling by cooking in bulk. By making large quantities of soup, I have the satisfaction of seeing neat containers in the freezer and fridge waiting for us for days.

But as the supply dwindles, I find my old resentment bubbling up again. I question whether we would be better off just going back to eating out–couldn’t that time cooking be better spent growing the business than saving a few dollars?

I would love to hear from someone who genuinely enjoys cooking for their loved ones and how they get satisfaction from such a task. I’ve heard there are such people in the world, but I suspect it’s one of those legends like Big Foot.

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4 responses to “Playing Housewife (or, I’d Rather Be Camping)

  1. I sympathize with what you describe. It is no fun to think that hours of preparation are gone in a few minutes and it’s time to start over again. 😦 I enjoy cooking or did — cooking for one is not as fulfilling because it still takes the same amount of time to cook for one as it did for 4 or 5. It was the lack of appreciation of my slaving over a stove and all that made it less fun. It took a while to get a pattern going but I would cook large quantities so there were leftovers of some sort and then I would add to it so I didn’t have to start from scratch for every meal. Back when the girls were young, I would heat several pounds of ground beef so I could skip the browning the next few meals but we would eat ground beef quite often that or chicken 🙂 .

    Planning was the biggest part of it. I still cook at least twice the amount I need in order to have leftovers during the week or to freeze for another time which is really good. I have also had good luck with crock pot meals. I love to be able to throw everything in the crock pot and come back about 5-7 hours later and it be done….it’s like magic. I found a lot of helpful things online.

    If you begrudge something, it is hard for you to find the zen quality…I know from experience 😀 . Good luck. The pictures are beautiful! Just enjoy life and make things as simple as possible. I think I’ll have that put on my headstone 😀 . Take care!

  2. Dianne, I’ve been (sorta) following your blog for a few years now,& this is the first time I’ve been inclined to reply. Yes, I truly enjoy cooking & baking for my family. I just had my mom, brother, son, daughter-in-law & 2 grandkids, & of course my wonderful husband, Dan, your cousin, for Sunday dinner. This has been our tradition for years. Cooking gives me a great deal of pleasure, & I wish I had more time for it. I will be doing Thanksgiving dinner for about 25 in between a business trip to chicago & a trip to Cleveland to see our daughter & her family, & this huge amount of cooking will be a pleasure for me.
    Gail Hunyar

    • Hi, Gail! I’m so happy to learn that there really are people who enjoy cooking and that it’s not just a myth! But I am curious–what about it do you find enjoyable?

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