It’s true. I make the dinner in our house every night we’re home. I then proceed to serve it to my husband. I really believe that you should too.
Now, hear me out.
I didn’t always feel this way.
My mother’s side of the family is Mexican and primarily female. I grew up watching my aunts put together a plate for their husbands as the men sat around talking, laughing, NOT getting their own food. I chalked this up to some sort of cultural tradition.
It infuriated me. Why were the strongest women I knew catering to these men? There was nothing wrong with my uncles, I merely felt strongly about serving men… food in particular.
When my mother and biological father divorced, my idea of how a woman should think and act only further solidified. I was raised by a hard-working single mother who only served her kids. Now this is what a woman looks like, I thought. However, I was in disbelief when my mother remarried (to a wonderful man I would grow to call “dad”) and began serving her new husband. WHAT WAS THE WORLD COMING TO? What was my world coming to?
After high school I made my way to UC Berkeley where I found myself amongst a strong group of women who believed in equality. While I refused to partake in serious relationships (I thought I saw what a man could do to your life and wanted no part in it) I stood witness to some interesting romantic dynamics. A friend here or there would be involved in a type of relationship that was new to me: they were partners in a union.
My time in Northern California was short-lived. I moved back home after two and a half years. When I returned, I realized nothing much had changed but I had. Soon after my move, I reconnected with an old high school friend. This led to dating, which led to an engagement which led to marriage.
Anyone who knew me prior to this relationship were genuinely shocked. Ida is what?! In fact, about a week after I would have donned a graduation gown and earned my B.A. from Cal, I wore a wedding gown and signed marriage documents instead. The irony wasn’t lost on me.
Marriage meant many new things for me: sharing a bed with another person, combining finances, and cooking. We’d come home after work and I would make my way to the kitchen to whip up an amazing meal from scratch. I remember in the early days I’d create my own beef and seasoning mixture for hamburgers accompanied with homemade buns. Nowadays I opt for making black bean burgers and I use store-bought buns. But, I still cook nearly every night.
What changed? What happened to that riled up girl?
She fell in love. She healed. She learned how to cook.
I never understood what made my mother and aunts serve their husbands until I found my person. They served their husbands not out of duty but out of love. The men they serve, to this day, are some of the kindest, gentlest, most loving men I know. My father in particular.
It’s interesting, when I think back, what I chose to focus on when my mother got remarried. I chose to zero in on my mother preparing a plate for him so much so that I wore blinders and refused to acknowledge that my new dad cooked all the meals. They’ve been together for almost twenty years and my father still cooks the majority of the food in the house.
I believe it’s from him that I learned to love cooking. He doesn’t use recipes but cooks from the heart and produces some of the most delectable food you’ll ever taste. I have friends who continue to reference meals they’ve had at my parents’ home. I wanted to create meals that would have the same effect on people.
When I got married, I was excited to have my very own kitchen and someone to try recipes on. I spent hours over a stove, having fun, creating a dining experience. It never occurred to me to reprimand myself for looking like the women I had condemned earlier in my life. Why? Because it was my choice to make those meals. It continues to be my choice to go home at the end of the day, make dinner, and serve it to whoever is sitting at my table.
I’ve received comments from people when I share my culinary adventures along the lines of: “Does your husband ever cook?” This question always makes me laugh because in my head, it’s ridiculous until I realize what my life might look like from the outside.
That girl who was riled up for most of her life about women’s roles, she’s still in there, riled up, but for different reasons.
I believe in choice. I believe in acceptance. I believe that if I want to cook dinner for my husband every night, I should be able to do so without dirty looks or unkind comments. My life may not be appealing to you but that’s okay, because I love every minute of it.
However, to answer the question I receive so often: Yes, my husband does cook. He usually makes us breakfast because I hate cooking that meal. We also take turns making lunch, this one depends on who’s ready for work first and has a moment to spare (usually him).
I’m a woman who serves my husband dinner. He’s a man who serves his wife in other ways: he does the laundry and dishes because he knows I hate them both. After we got married, he encouraged me to return to school. He was ready to pack his bags and move to Berkeley in order for me to finish where I started. Instead, I opted for a school close to home. In the year and a half it took me to finish my degree, he was my biggest cheerleader and for that year and a half he made every dinner because he wanted to. That was his way of serving me.
“Serve” has such a negative connotation nowadays. It’s a shame. While I didn’t understand it when I was younger, I’m such a fan of it now. For me, serving has nothing to do with obligation and everything to do with heart and choice. I choose to serve my husband because I love him. I also make this choice because never once has he demanded it or expected it of me. I continue to serve him because his appreciation has never wavered. Every night while I’m making dinner he always wanders in to ask: “Do you need help with anything?”
He also comes from a family of strong women who serve their husbands out of love. His mother, my mother-in-law, is another strong woman who I get to look up to. With only one son, she has taught him how to love and respect women and to serve just as much as he is served. I serve my husband, he serves me, and together we make a great team.
I wish people weren’t so turned off by the word or the act. I wish people would serve the ones they love just a little bit more. Service isn’t a sign of weakness but a sign of strength. Invest in serving the one you love whether it be your husband, wife, mother, father, children, best friend. Just serve.
I serve my husband dinner every night and I think you should too.