Almost every evening Stephen prepares dinner for us. Almost every evening I feel guilty because of it.
He hates that I feel this way. He pours me a glass of wine and points to the other side of the counter. “Relax,“ he says. What a horrible husband!
He insists he’s happy to do it, and I believe him—for the most part. Cooking’s in his DNA. He practically grew up in the kitchen of his father's Italian restaurant. He learned by watching Frankie the chef. Stephen's always eaten well, even on his hair-raising adventures.
Still, I see how tired he gets after a long day. If we could afford to hire a chef he’d jump at the chance. But he never complains.
He knows how challenging my life is today, balancing MS and the work I love. It's in part because he cooks that I can fit it all in. It's not that I don't know how. I fed my big family for decades, but my focus is on other things now.
So if he's happy and I'm happy, why can’t I just accept this kindness?
Some habits are hard to break. Guilt is one of the most stubborn.
I thought I came up with a perfect solution. When he cooks I do the dishes and vice versa. In theory it was a good plan, except on nights we finish eating around 8:00 pm. I'm too darn tired especially if there's a huge mess. That happens a lot. And again, he has no problem cleaning up too. “It's my mess,” he says.
So we came up with a different plan—one that doesn't feed that stubborn guilt. While he cooks, I work out. It's perfect! It keeps me on my feet and able to do all those things that I might otherwise have to depend on him for.
The biggest challenge in my life is not just my body. It's keeping up the motivation, day after day, to keep fighting. That daily workout is what really sustains my motivation. Now I'm working out six days a week.
Stephen's happy, and the guilt is gone…well anyway, I feel a little less guilty.