All of us have a place where we just – fit. A lovely little slot where we shine and flourish.
I am happiest when teaching, playing piano, listening to music and when I’m writing. I love to do a lot of other things too – but this is where I shine and feel happy.
But I am also undisputed in my ‘role’ as the chief cook – Queen of the kitchen.
Greg has many interests and a couple of businesses which make him very happy – that is where he shines. But his role in our home is ‘clean-up guy’. He is very happy to do this. He is one of those people who is the only one who knows how to load the dishwasher correctly – and does so with a pride and arrogance that is undisputed in our family. It’s a great set-up – I cook – he cleans. As long as we keep to that prescribed formula – things are great.
Once in a while it is necessary for me to step in and clean the kitchen and *gasp* LOAD THE DISHWASHER. It’s never pretty – because I have no love for loading dishes – and Greg can tell. He sighs and pats me on the head – like he would a small child – and is very patient and gracious with my feeble and uncaring attempts at order and precision under his tutelage. I am somewhat of a lost cause.
And once in a while it becomes necessary, with my teaching schedule for Greg to step in and begin dinner preparations. He doesn’t like this especially when I have not thought ahead and just say something like, ‘Greg could you start on dinner?” It freaks him out. He has NO IDEA how to just ‘start’ dinner.
Case and point – the other day I was busy teaching and in a small break I asked him if he could ‘start dinner’. I laid the items out on the counter and told him quickly what to do. I was assuming he would get it – forgetting that he is not comfortable in the kitchen unless he is making breakfast items – or following along (precisely) from a cookbook. So I left him in the kitchen – very much in distress – and very much to his own devices. Very scary.
I went back to teaching. When the last student had gone – I went into the kitchen hoping that dinner was ready. Greg seemed pleased with himself. I looked around and spotted a half-opened jar of marinara sauce on the counter. Hmmm. I did not see any container or pan with sauce in it. The trout was simmering in a pan on the stove – the butternut squash was in the microwave – just as I had directed. Where is the sauce? – I wondered.
I peaked in the microwave and under the paper towel. And what to my horrified eyes should appear – but butternut squash with marinara sauce on top – bubbling away! I was horrified – and couldn’t imagine what ever could have possessed him to think that I wanted him to cook it that way! He saw my horror – and began to quickly explain, ‘You said you wanted squash with marinara sauce’ – as if that settled the question – and would assure me that he had done everything just as he was directed to do. I took out the raw squash with the very hot and bubbly sauce out of the microwave and proceeded to spoon the sauce into a bowl while explaining, ‘Greg, what I meant was that the squash would be served with marinera sauce. Squash takes a long time to cook so you can’t have sauce on it – when cooking it’.
I realized something. Men and women don’t think the same way – even about food. You can’t assume. My husband needs very clear directions.
Very clear. A woman would have understood that I wanted the sauce on the side and heated up separately – but not a man. I should have said, ‘We are going to have squash served with marinara sauce for dinner. This is how to cook the squash – slice in half, put a little butter and salt and pepper – cover with a paper towel and cook for 15 minutes on high in microwave. – pour the sauce in a pan – put a lid on it and cook on low heat’ Next time I will be more clear.
He was very happy to let me take over – and was happy to clean the kitchen. He feels very much at home doing it – it is a good fit. And all is well that ends well – the dinner was a wonderful success – fresh trout – butternut squash with sauce – on the side. It was very funny – and he was such a good sport about it 🙂
The Bottom Line is this: We all have areas where we shine – tasks are easy, almost effortless! Those we do with joy because we love them. And then there are those that do not seem to fit us. We struggle. We get it wrong. There is no love. It is in these times that we need to have grace and patience for others and understand that we cannot – nor should we be good at everything.
What is your slot? Where do you shine? Or not shine? Have you figured it out? Are others patient with you? Are you gracious to them?
Here’s hoping that you will find it – as you slosh your way into what is the best fit for you – and as you discover how to fit in your slot.