If my mother had a mantra when I was growing up it would have been “Sometimes you need to do things that you don’t want to do.” (There was also “There are enough words in the English language that you don’t need to swear.” One of my boyfriends once found a quote that said something like, “There is a relief found in a swear word not even found in prayer” and that shut her up for a while – but I digress.)

“Sometimes you need to do things that you don’t want to do” was pulled out mainly when I would question why we were doing something that seemed pointless and either (a) she didn’t want to talk about it and/or (b) she couldn’t come up with a justification and didn’t want to talk about it. It never made sense to me. I understand it about having to go to work when I really don’t feel like it but I never got it when discussing voluntary activities.

I think I’ve patterned my life around not doing things that I don’t want to do. I’m definately not one of those Women Who Can’t Say No. It is freeing not to be bogged down with obligations that you can’t stand. Is this selfish? My mother would probably say yes but I think of it as self-preservation.

I started thinking of this when reading The Kitchen Goddess Manifesto. The first two sentences are

Do not cook if you are in a bad mood, lack the desire, or feel pressure from nagging obligation to another. Wise woman Brenda Ueland once said, “Do not do anything you don’t want to do.”

For my brother’s fiancee’s bridal shower we are making a scrapbook with recipes and words of wisdom. She seems to me to have been trained from birth to be a Woman Who Can’t Say No. I am doing my best to be a bad influence on her. I am definately using the Manifesto (adapted to fit her situation more) as part of my words of wisdom. I added the sentence “No one will starve” after the above quote. This used to be a sore point for my mother. I don’t cook for the husband most nights. He used to have a very erratic schedule so I didn’t know when he was coming home and there is the whole vegetarian vs. carnivore thing. This horrified my mother to no end. It was my duty and obligation to cook for him. She still cooks (and does all the laundry and irons…) for my father and 28 year old brother after all. She complains about it but she does it and that is the mark of a good wife.

My brother lived on his own in college and is perfectly capable of cooking, etc. I’ve been making sure his fiancee understands that she doesn’t have to kowtow before him out of a sense of obligation. Anything she does should be done freely out of love.

I just love being the bad influence!