A few days ago I was sitting at the kitchen table working on my laptop with my husband a few feet away, working on his laptop. Suddenly he said, "Something's burning!"
Naturally I leapt to my feet, knowing well exactly what was burning. "Oh no," I declared. "It's the greens." I rushed over to the stove. And sure enough the chopped kale, chard, etc. was burnt to a crisp. I turned off the stove and carried the mess to the sink to plunge into cold water.
"I don't know how we've stayed married so long," I lamented. For this wasn't the first time something had burnt on the stove. In fact, it probably was the 50th time or even the 100th time. The truth is that I'll often start cooking something and then get distracted by my work, by the phone, by any little thing and then, oops, the bacon or the potatoes or the brussels sprouts or the oatmeal burns to cinders. I can't count the number of pots and pans I've had to rescue with baking soda. And always, always I feel terrible about it. I feel like a giant failure -- as a cook, as a wife, as a human being. Isn't that the most elemental thing you're supposed to be able to do: cook oatmeal without burning it?
Suddenly, however, my husband exclaimed, "Do you think I give a (expletive) if you burn the greens!" And suddenly I realized that this huge shame that had burdened me for decades was entirely a figment of my imagination. I had this idea that I needed to be a good cook or at least a competent cook who didn't burn the bacon. If I wasn't, I was worthless in the eyes of the world.
His comment erased all that shame. I mean really --what does it matter if I burn the greens?