Stewing

My friend C.and I were chatting on Facebook the other evening, and she literally had me ROFL (rolling on the floor laughing, for those of you uninitiated in chat-speak as I was until C. educated me).  C.  has a knack for rather sarcastic humor – her self-imposed nickname is Little Miss Snarky, and it fits sometimes.  Occasionally she apologizes for this trait, and I’m quick to assure her that I don’t mind a little snarkiness.  Actually, sometimes C. says out loud the very things I’m thinking, but am too Little Miss Goody Good to say.

Last night our chat turned a bit more serious after C. apologized (again!) for what she feared had turned into a gripefest.  “After all,” she typed, “I was stewed in a very negative pot.”

Of course, I knew exactly what she was referring to.  After all, I live with a man who was stewed in one of the most perniciously negative pots I’ve ever encountered.  If a kind word was ever spoken in this house during my husband’s formative years,  he certainly doesn’t recall hearing it.  When I repeated  C.’s description of her upbringing to Jim, he sniffed disdainfully. 

“Well, if  her pot was any more negative than mine, I’d like to see it,” he said.  “On second thought, I probably would not want to see it,” he amended hastily.  “Can you imagine any two people being more negative than my parents? Can you, really?”

Anyway, I thought her phrase was particularly apt, and it got me thinking about the whole “stewing” process, the atmosphere we create in our homes.  It  becomes the broth we cook in, and whether it’s sweet and savory or bitter and lean, it flavors our personalities for life.   My husband (and my friend C.) were steeped in brine, and sometimes I marvel that they’ve managed to dispel that bitterness from their personalities as successfully as they have.  Jim has never been anything but loving, kind, supportive, and patient with me and with our son.  Not long after meeting his parents, I asked him outright how he came to be so different.  How did those two fractious people produce a young man who was gentle and sweet?

“I made up my mind a long time ago that I wouldn’t be like them,”  he said, this young man all of 20 years old who had obviously been thinking about this for quite a few years.  “I really have to work at it sometimes, too.”

He’s been working pretty hard at it these days, as he looks for jobs and tries to figure out a new path in life.  I can see that determination coming into play, as he gets up each morning, goes to his computer and starts sending emails, making follow up phone calls, doing research on jobs, organizing his new desk.   One of  the traits he inherited from his parents does occasionally come in handy – their stubborn streak was legendary, and it’s that same dogged determination (put to a more positive use) that helps him get through the kind of crisis we’re in right now.

Now I was cooked in a very thick broth, the kind where the ingredients are smothered in gravy and slow cooked until they’re so tender they fall off the bone.  Lots of love- perhaps too much, if there is such a thing – lots of attention paid to making sure life was sweet and easy for me.   So sometimes in a crisis, I start to feel smothered, and then panic as I struggle to get out as fast as possible. 

The two of use were definitely stewed in very different kinds of pots.  I think we’ve combined the flavors pretty well over the years.  Right now, our lives are a bit like a new recipe that’s left simmering on the stove.  We’re just waiting for it to be done cooking, but not really sure what it’s going to taste like.

I hope it’s good.

How about you?  What kind of pot were you stewed in?  And how has it affected your life today?

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7 thoughts on “Stewing

  1. For the most part, I think mine was a positive one as well. Things changed once I left and began living with my husband. Funny how things change.
    Have a good weekend!!

  2. Oh, you don’t want to hear what I was stewed in. Something distasteful landed in the middle of it! Fortunately, I turned out sweet and not sour. Great post and great metaphor. 🙂

  3. Sweet and salty! That was my stew. My mother was sweet and gentle, and my father was salty. Sweetness makes life more enjoyable, but salt preserves things, enables them to endure. I absorbed a little of each.

  4. I’ve been thinking about this. To be blunt: I stewed in a pot of rocks. (i.e., violence) It got pretty scary at times & I consider myself lucky to be here. But, as an adult, I’ve had to make an effort to create a different kind of stew, finding and adding better ingredients than I got as a kid. It takes work, but it tastes so much better.

    Wonderful metaphor on so many levels. And your husband sounds like an admirable person.

  5. Well, Rick was definitely stewed in a negative pot and more than a bit of brine wore off on him. I think that’s why I was born, in my own little treacly, sweet, rich yummy pot, like yours — filled with love and warmth and good things, to sweeten up his pot a little bit. And I’ll say that it’s good to have a bit of brine around. It’s all balance. This post is a wonderful one — lots to think about.

    Given the polar options, I like my pot just fine. It’s made me a better person, and sometimes it’s made me stronger. Sometimes, not so. It was easy to be me then; it isn’t always so easy now — more responsibilities. Now I’m the cook. But when you’re the cook, you can play with the recipe. I play every single day!

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