Live Like a Native: Burning the Roast

Is it just me or does moving in with your significant other make you feel crazy? Motivations and desires I never thought I had have surfaced from some remote place inside me. Among these invasive new thoughts was the sudden need to “provide” for my SO. This overwhelming need to make like June Cleaver and become the homemaker that my mother was growing up suddenly interrupted the way I’d done my adult life since forever.  I wanted, needed, to follow the example my mom set of a modern career woman who balanced children, husband, home, and career all at once. She made it look so easy! So, as my first step into this “Super June” provider role, I made it my duty (without my SO actually saying anything about it) to plan and cook dinner regularly. Actually executing this self-inflicted responsibility, however, was a pipe dream. Conveniently forgetting the times my mom burnt the bread or opted for fast food, my master plan to create healthy and delicious meals quickly became more than I bargained for.

When cooking for one, researching and executing recipes was a selfish act – I could eat all of the kale, brussels sprouts, (ice cream) and sweet potatoes I wanted! But when it came time to add the tastes of my SO into the exercise of meal planning, it got complicated. He’s meat and pasta and I’m fish and quinoa, so the thought of making meals that satisfied us both completely freaked me out. While I tried at first to cater mainly to his needs, I struggled to find meals that both of us enjoyed. I quickly broke down under the pressure I’d created in my head for the type of live-in girlfriend I thought my SO expected. Somehow, even in an age when women have overcome so many stereotypes, I simply couldn’t quite get past the June Cleaver mentality.

It got worse with the dreaded roast incident. Slow cooking meals always looked so easy! Pop all of your ingredients in to the pot and put it on low for hours until everything is cooked to perfection. Simple, right? I’d used a slow cooker before (often with my mom nearby), so when my SO suggested preparing a roast I quickly said yes with little thought, thankful we found a meal we both liked. Little did I know that there was actually a strategy to slow cooking. I just cut everything up and dumped it in. What I didn’t realize is that vegetables typically go on the bottom with the meat layered on top. Not until my SO taste-tested hours later, biting into a basically raw potato, did I realized that I’d royally messed up.

Needless to say the roast tasted like at tire and the vegetables were hopeless. Internally I was freaking out, letting my June Cleaver perfectionism eat away at my thoughts even while my SO sweetly ate the disaster of a meal saying, “it’s really not that bad”. It was that bad. I could no longer stand the pressure I’d been putting on myself and broke down in front of him, frustrated I couldn’t be the dinner provider I’d envisioned. But what came out of this dangerous food-driven path I’d taken myself down was a lesson I’m forever grateful for.

When I broke down, explaining what I *thought* I was supposed to be for my SO he quickly put those thoughts to rest. He didn’t expect me to be any version of June Cleaver – he loved to cook and we could make meals together without having some elaborate plan. We could even run up to the grocery store right before we cooked dinner instead of constantly meal planning – what a concept!

I realize I got lucky here, not every person loves to cook. But the point is that I’d created this world of expectation without even thinking about discussing it with my SO. Instead of living in this self-inflicted pain of perfectionism, I simply needed to talk it out with him. Coming to this understanding has since made cooking dinner less of a chore and more of a fun activity. I’ve even managed to help along his tolerance for brussels sprouts and sweet potatoes. While burning the roast was a minor mistake in the long run, it forced me to actually communicate with my SO instead of just internalizing all my crazy thoughts and burying myself in my own expectations. So if you’re like me and moving in with your SO made you a bit crazy, maybe talking it out is the perfect way to get out of your own way and kick June back to the decade she belongs in.

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