The Day I Found Out Cooking for Yourself is a Subversive Act


This is a conversation I had with one of my mother’s caregivers, who, apparently, is very traditional:

Caregiver: I didn’t know you knew how to cook. (This is the third time she has said this to me over the time I’ve known her and every time I have answered that I do.)

Me: Why would you assume I don’t know how to cook?

Caregiver: Because you’re alone.

Me: What’s that have to do with whether I know how to cook?

Caregiver: I wouldn’t cook if I was alone.

Me: What would you eat?

Caregiver: My mom’s food.

Me: Well, Im not a child.

Because I am single, because I don’t have children, does it mean that I don’t deserve to be nurtured and fed wholesome home-cooked food? Are a husband and children the only worthy recipients of my care and effort? Am I not a full human adult who requires care and love, which home-cooked food is a vehicle for?

The caregiver’s contention is that I should eat my mother’s food, be taken care of my mother, even at the age of 43. In her world view nothing exists outside of a family unit. God forbid if you are single, you belong with your family of origin, your parents if they are alive. There is no existence, at least no existence worthy of care and love and home-cooked food, outside of a nuclear family unit.

This post isn’t about my mother’s startlingly traditional caregiver, it’s about a mindset, a mindset so prevalent in my culture, I had to check my eyes to see that this caregiver is not Indian Auntie but a Haitian woman. A mindset that turns a blind eye to adult single women making it in the world on their own, not only providing for themselves but cooking for themselves, finding themselves worthy to belong in this world regardless of their marital or motherhood status.