Before my husband and I married, he made dinner for me on occasion. I was so impressed! I thought he was a real keeper, and maybe I wouldn’t be stuck cooking all the time when we got married!
Well, a girl can dream, anyway.
In my family, I do most of the cooking. On the rare occasion he cooks, it’s either Japanese noodles or a wide variety of baked frozen foods on a platter. Yes, that’s right: The girls may end up with a plate of pizza rolls, taquitos and tater tots. Beige starch for dinner. But that’s not all bad. At least the girls are thrilled.
Sadly, there seems to be an inverse relationship between how much time I spend making dinner and how much they enjoy it. That became very plain to me recently after Patti ate dinner at her friend’s house.
When she got home, I wondered how that moms’ dinner compared to the pot roast I was putting on the table.
"Your dinner is a lot fancier than theirs," Patti said. Wow, I thought smiling. Chalk one up for mom! But then I looked at her and wasn’t sure she’d meant that in a positive way.
"So is fancier good or bad?" I asked.
"Bad," she said, scowling at my beef, carrots, potatoes, crunchy bread and au jus. "They had mac and cheese for dinner."
I remember seeing an episode of Super Nanny where she claimed parents and kids should always eat the same food. "But I don’t want to have mac and cheese for dinner," I whined.
Fine. Reason 1 that restaurants are better than eating at home: I can order something delicious, wonderful and exotic and the kids can have as much mac and cheese as they want. Even Super Nanny can’t complain about that.
But good food is not my only interest in restaurants, and my husband doesn’t understand that. It’s also about avoiding all the other work that goes toward making dinner.
I mean, I know there are evolved husbands out there – I often hear tell of them – but mine is not so perfected. We don’t have a deal where I cook dinner and he cleans up after. If I cook, I clean up the dinner dishes. If he cooks, I clean up the dinner dishes.
At a restaurant, someone musses the kitchen back there somewhere, someone brings me lovely food and serves it with a smile. And later, most importantly perhaps, all those dirty dishes disappear, never to be touched by my delighted hands.
Of course my husband, who has been out running around at work all day, would simply like to come home, sit on the sofa and wait idly by until I call, "Dinner!" How nice to be home and relaxed after working all day outside the house.
Problem is, I’ve been working all day IN the house. And I’m ready to bolt.
My husband may not get it, but the restaurant industry does. Why else would there be restaurants like Red Robin, obviously designed with children in mind, with the wild colors, kids’ meals and balloons? And they didn’t forget the beer and wine menu for mom and dad, either.
So maybe someday my husband will learn if he wants to save the cost of dining out, he need only plan the meal, buy the food, cook it up, serve it with a smile, provide balloons for the kids and pour me a lovely glass of wine.
Until that day I’ll be asking, "Where are we going for dinner?"