I stopped cooking for my family about two years ago. It may have coincided with the beginning of the pandemic when I stopped grocery shopping and my husband took it over with ordering everything online — but I have a feeling it had already begun way before then.
It’s been great.
Well, maybe not for my kids. Sometimes, they ask me what’s for lunch or dinner and I just look at them blankly, like what are you asking me for? You have a father and he is also in this house! Also — you know how to cook a small variety of foods! Our house is full of food! Go forage something to eat!
Inevitably, they look at me somewhat mournfully and figure something out.
Look at them, applying their problem solving skills at such a young age! I’m so proud.
But first, some context
Before you judge me (further, I mean — I know you’re already judging me and hate-reading this article so you can hunt down my info and hate-mail me — like get in line), let me explain. (Actually, the more I explain, the more you’ll judge, but still. I should provide at least some context in good faith. But also, my mother already highkey judges me so your judgment is merely a gnat in the shadow of her disapproval. And yes, the entire article will be in parentheses.)
I’m married, bilingual homeschool four kids (aged 4.5 to 11.5 years), and both my husband and I work from home. We both grew up in homes where our mothers made dinner every night and while his family ate in front of the TV, ours ate around an actual dinner table.
As for our current meal situation, the kids make their own breakfasts — and you know what? I actually am not sure what their current situation is. Do the older kids make lunch? Do they eat goldfish crackers all day? Does my husband figure out dinner? I think they must eat dinner and watch TV together around dinnertime — I don’t actually know and I don’t know that I care.
It’s not my problem.
No really, it’s not my problem.
And before you say that I made these children — I should feed them (I mean, I guess I can get that logic) — how come no one ever thinks that maybe — maybe it’s my husband’s problem to feed the children now?
I fed these ungrateful humans for a decade — I’m done. I hate everything related to meals — from the planning to the shopping to the prepping to the eating of it. I hate it — and ever since my midlife crisis three years ago, I rarely do things I don’t want to do, let alone hate.
Now, you may be wondering, even if I don’t fix my children food, surely, I must be eating, right? WRONG! I’m not exactly sure what I eat, either! I must forage and cobble together some sad little meal — and honestly, I think it’s always been this way.
If you asked me how I survived both during and after college, I’m not sure I could tell you. I ate out a lot. And it’s not even because I don’t know how to cook. I’m a decent cook — I just don’t care to do it.
Like, why cook when the kids just bitch and moan about whatever it is you make anyway? Sure, sure. You can say one does not feed the children for affirmations alone, but they eat just fine. And sure, their bones may be hollow, but how else could we single-handedly keep the vitamin and supplement industry afloat? It’ll work out. It’s not like they have scurvy and they get plenty of sun so no risk of rickets!
Look at me, doing the bare minimum!
Why is the judgment on me?
Part of me feels like a terrible mother. After all, what parent doesn’t provide food for their children? (Except, like, I do provide food? They just need to make it themselves?) Surely, I’m damaging my four children somehow — food is fundamental, right? Family meals around the dinner table are the linchpin of good relationships and healthy children or so the experts say — but why does it have to come at the expense of my happiness?
And yes, my children and husband should also be happy — but as far as I know, they’re pretty happy. They live really good lives as spoiled little children who mostly play all day and do some learning and then spend hours at the park. I’m sure my kids or husband would like it if I did at least one meal a day again, but hey, we all want things.
On the occasions I stop and think about it (like now), I feel the spot of guilt. After all, society has done quite a fucking number telling mothers that they have to feed their children at least three times a day. (It’s just too much, you know?)
Why does everything about motherhood require the moms to do things they hate? Why is it always about the sacrifice of parenthood? Why is it okay to normalize mothers needing to constantly be inebriated in order to make it through the day?
Why is no one guilt tripping the dads about farm-to-table organic meals, a pristine Instagram ready home, and spending every fucking available second with their brood? Didn’t the dads make those babies, too?
Look. I’m not saying I couldn’t stand to perhaps, be a little more involved with my children’s nutrition and feeding. (But also — plenty of fathers don’t do more than sit down for dinner and no one is saying, “Hey, maybe you should be a little more involved with your kids’ nutrition.”)
But maybe — maybe — I’m just done with the emotional labor of dealing with the feeding and watering of children. Maybe I taught my kids how to cook a limited menu so that I wouldn’t have to. Maybe my husband is finally learning how to cook and dealing with the emotional and physical labor involved in the shitty process of feeding and fueling a family of six.
And maybe, I’ll never have to cook again unless I actually want to.