One night a week, Mondays, became family dinner night several years ago.
Everyone knows I don’t really like to cook.
I have no trouble with cooking, and I love to eat absolutely anything anyone creates (I have zero pickiness) and I love doing the dishes.
I really do not enjoy trying to figure out what to eat, choose the item, find the recipe, and actually cook or make it.
I’d make a smoothie and feel perfectly happy.
At some point I stopped trying to like to cook.
When my kids were little, I always made dinner every night. I had the same 5 things I created over and over–they were really good.
Creativity was not my interest in this department.
Then divorce happened.
Something kind of gave up trying to do whatever you’re supposed to do around meals.
I dropped the “I should(s)…..”
So after a time of the change in the family configuration, and everything starting all over again without the images in place any more of what it was supposed to look like….
….I thought, hey….my kids can do a meal once a week.
They can pick the recipe, or choose whatever we’re eating, and I’ll buy the food or ingredients.
Family dinner night, even if we do eat together other nights, this one is a For Sure night.
Skip to a decade later.
Only daughter here at home, age 18. Son at college.
(Son loves to cook, by the way, and owns two cookbooks along with kitchen items he bought with his own money).
During the past year, Monday night dinner night has been cancelled and thrown to the wayside many times.
I had reinstated it a few days ago.
My husband and I decided on the food.
I was working with clients until 6:30 pm, but after that…..family dinner night was going to happen!
When I emerged from my last client appointment, she was lying on the couch.
“Let’s get dinner on the table!” I declared.
“What???!!!! I HATE eating after 7 pm!! Why did you wait so long?! The only reason I’m even in this room is because of your Dinner Night or I would be going to BED! Now! I am soooooo exhausted! I can’t stand your food idea either! And why didn’t you start at least cooking already!?!”
Lightening bolt courses through me.
I say with anger….
….”Why didn’t you request a different night, then? It’s not like this is written in stone, especially if it causes so much suffering. Go to bed! Family Dinner Night is off!!”
Daughter storms out.
The feeling of being insulted or disrespected arose so fast in me, like a fire.
Under the surface, I am hurt.
She doesn’t care about me, she doesn’t want to spend time with me (us), she’s mean.
Who would I be without these thoughts?
I’ve been here before, in this inquiry.
I see it and feel immediately what it would be like without the belief she doesn’t like me.
If her words did not mean anything personal, I would realize right now I never really asked her if she would be up for the idea.
I didn’t let her know I’d like to spend time with her.
Honestly, I’m not even sure I liked the idea of cooking (of course I didn’t) or making a production out of it on a Monday night.
I didn’t even ask her if she felt ill, since 7 pm was very early to want to go to bed.
Who would you be without the belief someone doesn’t like you?
Even if they say “I don’t like you” who would you be without the belief that it is really, absolutely true?
I’d see them having their reaction.
I’d be with them as they have it.
I’d connect with the reality of the situation, which is that something I’ve done or said is not computing well with this person.
They’re saying “no”.
I turn the thought around: she does care about me, love me, want to spend time with me. I am mean, disrespectful, insulting….to her, to myself.
Could any of these be just as true, or truer?
This was another moment in time, an exchange, a place I felt the vulnerability of disappointment, loss, concern….
….a childlike core place of “ouch”.
After doing The Work for awhile in my room, I felt like I was hugging the little raw, exposed part of me.
Moments later I heard daughter came back into the living room, so I stepped out of my room, and I hugged her and stroked her back as big crocodile tears rolled down her cheeks. She told me she was thinking about how much she had to get done.
“To stay with that shakiness–to stay with a broken heart, with a rumbling stomach, with the feeling of hopelessness and wanting to get revenge–that is the path of true awakening. Sticking with that uncertainty, getting the knack of relaxing in the midst of chaos, learning not to panic–this is the spiritual path.” ~ Pema Chodron
In my graduate school program 20 years ago, we had a saying. “It’s not what I do…..it’s what I do next.”
We had t-shirts made with these words on it. Our special reminder, our discovery in imperfection, in feelings, in staying with something, in repair.
My kids teach me this over, and over again.
And everyone who has ever acted like they didn’t like me, or said so.
“Go ahead, climb up onto the velvet top of the highest stakes table. Place yourself as a bet. Look God in the eyes and finally for once in your life, lose.” ~ Adyashanti