Pressing my Potluck
I brought store-bought spinach dip to my company Thanksgiving potluck. I’m not sorry about it. I know what you’re thinking: “So what? People bring store-bought items to potlucks regularly. This isn’t a big deal.” Yes, that’s true. But I committed to bringing creamed spinach. It’s a good recipe – the best kind, really. It’s easy to make. It masquerades as a vegetable, but it calls for lots of butter. Velveeta is involved. But I had no follow through. I promised a hot side item baked in a casserole dish but showed up with a cold, store bought dip. And it was the right thing to do.
The morning of the potluck, after dropping my kid off at school, I popped into Langenstein’s and grabbed two containers of Popeye dip and a bag of Tortilla chips. The entire transaction took less than five minutes and was probably cheaper than the ingredients I would have needed to buy for the creamed spinach. Most importantly (to me), I didn’t have to do dishes after. I felt so freaking empowered because for the first time in a long time, I said no. Though I had over-committed and shouldn’t have over-promised a dish that I would neither have the time nor the desire to cook the night before, I didn’t come empty handed. I just under-delivered. And for a chronic over-deliverer who prioritizes the needs of other people over herself regularly, that was fine. It was the healthier choice for me.
The day before the potluck, I worked all day and then went to school at night to take two difficult tests that I had stayed up late studying for all week. By the time I got home at 10pm, my body was so tense with stress that it felt like I had been in a car accident. I knew I was supposed to be making creamed spinach for my coworkers, but I hadn’t even seen my child at all that day. I could only bring myself to peek in at E, who was sleeping peacefully in his crib (shout out to my husband for handling bedtime solo every Wednesday night), before collapsing on my bed, fully clothed. Instead of playing Martha Stewart until midnight, I watched an episode of The Great British Bake Off until my eyes wouldn’t stay open anymore. It may have been the best decision I made all week.
Chill for Several Hours
As women and especially as mothers, we constantly put the needs of others ahead of the basic necessities that we need to function, like a nutritious meal, a long shower, sleep, or down time in general. So many of us have been socialized to strive to simultaneously be perfect mothers, excellent hostesses, caring wives, gifted cooks and diligent workers without acknowledging that our first and most important loyalties remain to ourselves. I could tell you that you can’t pour from an empty cup, but that insinuates that your worth is only valuable in the context of what you can do for others. That is not true. You are valuable because of who you are. Full stop. And sometimes that means you need to watch someone else bake a five-layer opera cake on TV because you’re too tired to bake anything yourself.