What has cooking got to do with a person’s self-esteem? Lots, in my case.
You see, at one point in my life, I doubted my ability and self-worth — all because I couldn’t cook well. Yes, you heard it right. I felt useless because of my poor cooking skills.
You see, I don’t naturally love to cook. I mean, I don’t mind cooking but I am not the type who go goo-goo-gaa-gaa over a recipe. In all honesty, I would much rather sit back, relax, watch someone cook and wait to be served! I blame it on my being surrounded by many good cooks, from my mother to my mother-in-law to several good friends. There was always someone around to cook yummy food for me so I never bother to do it myself.
Then, I became someone’s mum. Without a domestic helper, I have no choice but to learn how and what to feed them. It was easy when they were babies but as they grew and grew, preparing meals for them became a challenge. Nutrition, finances and differing taste buds have to be taken into consideration.
And that’s when I started to learn to cook.
And that’s when I started to feel so inadequate as a mother and a woman.
I mean, doesn’t every mother worth their penny cook a decent meal for their kids? Yet there was I, not even able to fry a simple egg. Don’t laugh! It’s true. There was a time when I didn’t even know the difference between an onion and a garlic.
I started to feel like I’m such a lousy mother. It didn’t help when I see my friends making ice-cream of all fruity flavours, baking cupcakes that give the commercial ones a fight for their money and whipping up all kinds of yummy looking dishes that make me want to employ them as my chefs. I felt useless, berating myself for being unable to do a basic chore that (seemingly) all women are capable of. I also convinced myself that my children will grow up scarred for their entire life because their mother could not cook well!
Funny how the brain can spun a thick web around something that it chooses to believe in huh?
As it (always) turns out, neither the world nor my motherhood career collapse because of my poor culinary skills. My family are still eating (healthily, I wish to believe) and I did eventually learn not to burn the wok.
Looking back, I laugh at myself for agonizing over something so trivial. I am not saying this now because I have become an expert in cooking. No way! I am still very much a “limited company” when it comes to cooking. It’s just that I have come to understand that being able to whip up restaurant-standard meals does not equate to a better person. Not able to cook well does not mean I am lousy as a person, a mother, a wife. For that matter, not having the proficiency in a particular area does not mean that one is a failure.
Have you ever beaten yourself up, maybe even convinced that you are a big failure, because of something that you can’t do well? Is that something really defining what and who you are?