Leftovers for Company
Men are doing more around the house than ever before, but there are some areas of home management that still fall mainly to women. Take planning for dinner guests, for example. In most homes, exceptions withstanding, women take the lead in picking out the menu, shopping for the food, cooking, and generally planning the evening. Men are mostly urged to get out of the way, or are asked to help out (as directed by their wives).
But why? Aside from the obvious cliche answers, I maintain that men are fully capable of these activities. In our house, where we tend to examine more tasks for equality than the average married couple, we decided to put 'dinner for a guest' to the ESP test. In other words, it was my turn to do all the planning and Amy's turn to help if needed.
The result: leftovers. Not leftovers as in an almost full pan of homebaked lasagna. Leftovers as in 'empty the fridge and serve up what we have'. Some of us got to finish off the baked squash from last night, while others dug into the leftover pasta. Dessert was the end of a package of store-bought cookies.
Now mind you - this was NOT Amy's way. She loves to cook for company and enjoys trying out new recipes, putting together a fresh meal, and she feels that her efforts are a way to honor the guest. But because we practice ESP, there is room for my way too. In my world, serving a good friend (as this guest was) leftovers is like saying 'you are part of our family'. To me, that is the greatest honor. And besides, I served perfectly good food that tasted just fine.
Amy will be the first to admit to cringing and wringing her hands at my plans when she got wind of them. It was a stretch for her to trust that the evening would be enjoyed by all even if my meal was served. I didn't do anything out of spite, or to teach her a 'lesson'. I truly made my decisions because this is the way I would have put together a meal for a guest if I were a bachelor.
In the end, the evening WAS enjoyed by all. Amy admitted that turning over the reins to me was freeing once she was able to let go - she could sit back and watch the scene rather than go into people-pleasing mode. I admit that I love Amy's way of caring for guests too.
It takes two people to make equal sharing work, and the barriers are often subtle. We could have gone on forever in our usual unequal dinner-work division without too many problems, but putting ourselves up to this challenge is how we both grow.