I’ve got a SO problem...
Okay okay okay. I need to preface this post by saying generally, this week-on has not been that bad. SO largely has shown he wants to work towards a harmonious home. He doesn’t tolerate the kids outright disrespecting me. By and large he has my back. He understands that I want everyone to be happy and well adjusted. He usually is able to come around to my logic.
For the love of all things holy I am about to lose my mind when it comes to food with SO and clan!!
Here’s the deal: I LOVE cooking. For a long time, it has been a hobby and passion of mine. I’ve been a vegetarian for a long time, meat doesn’t sit well with my stomach, so that has required me to pick up some skills in the kitchen to not suffer on a boring diet of bland vegetables. I find joy in the kitchen.
SO hates cooking as much as I love it. He wishes he could “turn off the need to eat” so he wouldn’t have to deal with food. It stresses him out. If a recipe says “salt to taste” he gets upset because he doesn’t know how much salt to add. He likes food fine, but doesn’t have strong opinions other than he can’t stand cooking.
For those of you who have seen the movie Rattatouille, I am the Remy to his Remy’s brother who’s fine with eating garbage.
We are in the middle of trying to find a way to handle food as a family that works for everyone in the house. Here are the puzzle pieces we are working with:
-SO and clan need to eat healthier. SO recognizes this and has taken some steps to make it happen, but he also recognizes there are still gaps and he doesn’t have the skill set to close those gaps.
-I love cooking and don’t mind helping my partner with this task. It is far less effort for me to put together healthy meals than it is for him.
-SO is grateful for my help and is willing to pay for the food, help with clean up, etc. to recognize my willingness to help him with this area of parenting where he needs help.
-SKs are picky eaters and obviously more veggies/less junk food will not be popular among children who have grown accustomed to a lenient diet.
These three facts are the Chicken, Fox, and Corn we are trying to get across the river.
If I cook meals, the kids are presented with healthier, made from scratch options that can’t in a million years stack up to chicken nuggets and tater tots. The association will become this: Steplightly’s food is bad and a sentence to be served before trying to negotiate for dessert. We liked it better when dad made food. Eating well becomes traumatic and bogged down with step-baggage.
If SO cooks food, he admits they won’t be eating the kind of healthier diet they need to be eating because he doesn’t have the skill set. Other issues associated with poor diet will persist. I disengage more than I feel comfortable with and more than my partner is comfortable with in order to let the status quo remain. I get resentful because SO isn’t taking the issue seriously, which in turn puts strain on our relationship. Kids still don’t eat well.
Here is the solution I have come up with that hopefully avoids the pitfalls of this puzzle. Let me know what you think.
SO learns to get the heck over his aversion to cooking because, grow up dude. I help him find simple, healthy, easy to follow recipes on our weeks-off. He presents it to the kids as him trying to learn a new skill so he doesn’t set the house on fire. (Yes there was a small kitchen fire when he tried to help... they thought it was a little hilarious). They aren’t seeing me forcing them to eat different gross food, they see their dad taking steps to better himself, they see him getting out of his comfort zone to learn something new. He’s their dad and they’re empathetic kids- they want to see him succeed. The meal is set up less like an adversarial power struggle and more like everyone trying to help everyone be better. I posture as grateful and supportive to my SO for trying a new thing, the attitude is theoretically contagious. They are primed to be more willing to try something new- like a healthy diet- when that becomes a kind gesture/show of support. I’m not thrust in the middle of their dynamic so I’m disengaged some, but not to a point where I’m totally checked out, and not to a point that starts to put me and SO at odds. If our relationship is tense the whole house of cards collapses.
Yes I know... best laid plans of mice and men... But. Seriously? Does the calculus of this make sense or am I being hopelessly naive?