Monday, 18 February 2013

Stained Cookie Sheets

When I was in a home economics class in high school, the cooking teacher informed us that cookie sheets should remain unstained. That if you took care of them properly they would always be as good as new. I was shocked! I had never seen a "clean" cookie sheet in my life! So I was determined that one day when I got a new cookie sheet it would not end up tarnished.

I had to wait some time to put that to the test. Quite a while, actually. I didn't bake and really had no reason to prioritize such a purchase. When I got married about 10 years later I declared that we were tossing all the old muffin tins and cookie sheets and frying pans (torturous words to someone who would rather keep everything until it was unusable). We were going to get uncontaminated ones. And we were going to keep them in pristine condition.

It didn't take long to discover how arduous this task would be. For us at least. My husband tends to overcook. And I am simply proficient at forgetting that I was cooking in the first place. Tossing another batch of garlic bread. Scraping the burnt part off the grill cheese. Again. And sometimes yummy things have juices that bubble over the pan and sizzle in the hot oven leaving crispy spots even though the bulk of the meal is cooked just right. I give up.

And now my husband uses tinfoil to lower my frustration over the stains that are already on the bakeware. How kind of him to adjust how he does something to accommodate my preferences. Likewise, a reminder to watch what I fuss about. I know, here we go overanalyzing something as simple as trying to avoid staining my dishes...

Early in marriage I remember telling a friend about a discussion with my husband concerning changes that needed to be made (it could have the contents of our kitchen cupboards, but I am sure we were discussing something more crucial). She counteracted with some very good advice. Be careful what you complain about. She had grumbled to her husband when he would buy her flowers, citing the budget and how it didn't contain room for such nice, yet unnecessary, splurges. Then, when the flowers stopped, she missed how special they were. She got her way, but it wasn't satisfying.

I chewed on that counsel for a while. I was quite the seasoned complainer. I thought about the refinements that I wanted and how I would really feel if they came to fruition. The realization came that I didn't want as much as thought I did!

For instance, my husband is not organized. It is not in his nature. If I were to expect him to put in the effort to get things as tidy and put together and presentable as I'd like (a very unascertainable level I am embarrassed to admit), then what would he have to do? He couldn't be the hospitable, generous, serving, busy, get-out-there-and-help-when-needed man that is his nature. He wouldn't have the time. "Oh, sorry man, your car won't start? I'd love to help but I need to tidy up from my snack here and then put all my purchases away before my wife gets back or she'll flip." Yah, that would be good. Unfortunately, as I type I speculate that he has had to say something like this to someone...

I used to laugh at the key chain, sticker, or button that would state, "I am too busy to be organized". I thought that there were some obvious missed priorities. And even worse, why would someone want to admit that?

But being with an amazing man with too much on his plate I have realized that if he let enough tasks go in order to make room for always putting things back right away and keeping all papers and supplies and tools in perfect order, someone would be missing out. And he wouldn't be happy.

That's why God puts men like him with organized women like me. So we can whip them into shape... I mean, so we can support them. Help them do what they do best. Not bring them down and stifle their strengths. Ugh. Can't I just organize my own stuff and he takes care of his? Somewhere else. Hmmm. Doesn't sound like a close family atmosphere. We'll have to work together on this. And though I'll nag, "Put that away!" I won't expect him to be able to morph into Mr Methodized. I wouldn't be satisfied with the transfer of superhuman strengths. He's my hero right where he is.

And I won't expect myself to have like-new bakeware. I'd rather get some really good use out of them. Hors d'oeuvre a lá burnt, anyone?

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