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We Can\’t All Be Good Cooks

July 9, AD2013 6 Comments


I’m a notoriously bad cook. Please no lectures on how easy cooking is. Seriously, I’m not only a bad cook, I just hate cooking. I once hosted my in-laws for a two week visit, and I don’t think I cooked a single meal for them the entire time. I had a reasonably stocked kitchen and reminded them that they were welcome to cook whatever they wanted for themselves anytime they liked. We have always gotten along well and they fed themselves for years before they ever met me, so I didn\’t see a problem.

How many mothers-in-law would use my \”failure\” as an excuse to complain, belittle or berate? (I’m guessing a lot).

One day during her visit, while not complaining over the lack of prepared meals, my mother-in-law cheerfully said to me, “I really want a black toile shower curtain.” That I can do – and off we went to the fabric store. We bought black toile fabric and other coordinating fabric, and I custom made her a lovely shower curtain and matching drapes. At the end of her trip, she packed it up, took it back to Montana, and told all her friends how her creative daughter-in-law lovingly helped her redecorate her bathroom.

One of my dear ladies had a precious baby who lived for 40 minutes. She begged for a C-section and her physician skillfully did the surgery. The day after her surgery, he came into the room and found her holding her deceased baby. He fell all over himself with awkwardness and discomfort and said something stupid. I came in the room not much later and she told me of his failure.

I could have griped over his lacking and made him seem a fool to her, but these words leapt from my mouth before I could catch them: “I can’t do a C-Section. He did your surgery well, let\’s let him be good at what he does well, I’m here for you now.”

I wonder how much in life we gripe that someone didn’t make us a pot roast when they might have happily made us a shower curtain.

In a perfect world, all OB physicians would say exactly the right thing and every member of the team would be perfect, and I could cook, but we weak and flawed humans all live with limitations. Something as complicated as caring for bereaved families or running a family is hard and takes everyone working together. We don’t all have the same skills. Maybe in our lives, we can practice a generosity of spirit where we appreciate what individuals can do well for us and forgive a lack of skill in other areas. How might we let people be good at what they are good at and forgive the rest?

I think my mother-in-law set a beautiful example. Find something good and accept any service with gratitude.

© 2013. Tammy Ruiz. All Rights Reserved.

Photography: See our Photographers page.

Filed in: Marriage & Family

About the Author:

Tammy Ruiz Ziegler has been a Nurse for 30 years and spent most of her career in Neonatal Intensive Care. For 10 years, she has been a Perinatal Bereavement Coordinator - caring for women and families suffering miscarriage, stillbirth, neonatal death and SIDS. Part of her work involves assisting parents in preparing for births when the baby has received the diagnosis of a life limiting condition (often called "Perinatal Hospice"). In addition to her Nursing education, she studied (but did not become certified in) Clinical Pastoral Education at a Catholic Hospital in the midwest. She has been on EWTN and speaks regularly to Physicians & Nurses on the topic of perinatal loss care. Her work has been translated into Polish, Spanish, Czech, French, Italian & Japanese. Her career was both fragmented and enhanced by having 14 different jobs because of moves for her husband who was an active duty Officer in the USMC. She has 3 quasi-adult children and one super-cute grandchild. A convert to the Catholic Church, she was widowed after 26 years of marriage but recently married a man she met when they were both children.

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