As a stay-at-home mom with a partner who comes home right around the time everyone wants dinner, I am the designated family chef. We've fallen into a groove that works for pretty much everyone involved. However, just because circumstances dictated that I do the majority of the work when it comes to meals, doesn't mean that my partner is no longer involved in this very important (and time consuming) aspect of our family's life. For he is a grown-ass man, and there are things every grown-ass man does to help with meals.
In the earliest days of my relationship, my partner and I ate whenever the hell we felt like it. My dinners usually consisted of something cereal based, and he ate almost exclusively from the hot dog food group. As we got older (and, not coincidentally, moved into an apartment with a dishwasher), we began to make cooking and eating dinner together a priority. Part of this was in preparation for having a family: shared meals had been an important aspect of our respective childhoods, and were something we wanted to emulate when we had children. So, we established a routine of taking turns who cooked (and cleaned up) each night. It really got us into the habit of thinking of cooking as something we were both responsible for, which has definitely helped post-kids.
Now, per my own example as a stay-at-home-mom who does pretty much all the cooking: different situations will call for different divisions of labor. But the point is, a grown-ass man recognizes that divisions of labor within the household are (or, at the very least, should be) created because they're beneficial to all involved, and not because they're following a predetermined social standard perpetuated by gender stereotypes. No, a grown-ass man is going to do the following things to help with meals because, well, we're all adults here, and adults know how to cook.
He Knows How To Cook A Week's Worth Of Meals
Let's be perfectly clear: this is a skill that I think every adult human who is physically and mentally capable of cooking should possess. Not having a knack for or interest in the culinary arts is no excuse. Even if the man of the house is not primarily or usually responsible for the cooking, doesn't mean he shouldn't be able to provide a varied menu of items for himself and/or his family, should the need arise. What if his partner gets sick for an extended period of time? What if his partner has to go away on a business trip? What if his partner takes a vacation? My own partner's father was famous for knowing how to cook exactly two dishes: steak and spaghetti. It took my husband years to willingly eat spaghetti again and, to this day, he avoids steak at all costs.
He Helps Plan The Menu
Scene: A couple stands in the kitchen, planning their next meal.
You: What do you want to eat?
Him: I don't care.
You: Okay, I'll make grilled chicken and salad.
Him: Eh. Not that.
You: Okay, well then what do you want?
Him: I don't know.
There is seriously little in this world that can send me into full-on crazy lady mode more quickly than this conversation. A grown-ass man knows that his opinions on planning a meal are not only welcome but encouraged, and he comes to the table with thoughts and ideas. And if he doesn't have ideas, he doesn't shoot down yours.
He Goes Grocery Shopping
Because he needs to eat, too. A grown-ass man doesn't allow this time consuming, often annoying but extremely necessary chore fall entirely on his partner. If he doesn't go, he is perfectly willing to occupy the kids while you do. And, of course, as we all know, grocery shopping alone when you're used to grocery shopping with kids is a damn vacation. The "International Foods" aisle sans niños is basically the mom equivalent of backpacking through Asia during your gap year.
He Finds Or Concocts New Recipes
Because even if you know a week's worth of recipes, that can get boring after, like, two weeks. So a grown-ass man takes the initiative to check out some cooking websites, download some dinner apps, or borrow some cookbooks from the library. Learning how to cook is a lifelong endeavor, and he's in it for the long haul.
He Occupies The Children While You Cook
Aside from asking what your partner wants for dinner and them saying they don't know only to shoot down all of your ideas, the most irritating kitchen-related situation is trying to cook with a small child hanging on you. It has the dual torture of being annoying and anxiety inducing: because OMG why is this kid hanging all over me and OMG this kid is going to knock over my bouillabaisse and bouillaburn their face off. Whenever possible, a grown-ass man will keep the little ones away from an active kitchens for three main reasons:
1) To keep them safe
2) To keep them out of his partner's hair
3) Because he knows that in her mind she is pretending that cooking dinner is a Quickfire Challenge and she didn't come here to make friends, she came here to win.
I mean, duh, right? A grown-ass man isn't only going to cook in cases of necessity or emergency. As long as he is able, it is a task he willingly shares with his partner. Besides, then he can pretend he's in a Quickfire Challenge!
OR! Perhaps he can even cook with you!
OMG you can have your own Quickfire Challenge!
He Engages With His Family During Meals
Because you (or he) didn't spend the time cooking a meal just so he could completely disappear into his own world for however long it takes to consume it. A grown-ass man has conversations, and/or handles the children, and/or picks up the silverware you're 95% sure your daughter is dropping on purpose because this is the 12th time in 10 minutes.
He Takes Turns Eating With A Child On His Lap When Necessary
Because is it really a meal with children if one of them doesn't wind up on someone's lap at some point? If said child will not consent to sitting on daddy's lap (e.g. screaming "Mommy! Mommy! Mommy!" and kicking until they are released), a grown-ass man will do his best to accommodate his partner's dining experience, perhaps by cutting her meat or serving her seconds.
He Models Healthy Eating For His Kids
Because a grown-ass man knows that children can smell a hypocrite from a mile away, he cannot very well tell them, "Eat that broccoli" when he goes on about how gross it is as he eats an enormous stack of bacon-wrapped waffles drenched in syrup. If there's a food he really just cannot stand, fine. Everyone has their preferences. However, a grown-ass man knows that, sometimes, being a parent is doing things he doesn't like to benefit his children.
He Does The Dishes
If a grown-ass man did not prepare the meal, then he will help tidy up afterwards. This is just common courtesy, as it is for a grown-ass woman who has stepped up and prepared a meal. Honestly, cooking is the one time when the rule, "If you made the mess, you clean it up" should not apply. Well, that and also for, like, giving birth. Grown-ass men will not only agree to do the dishes after they have been served a home cooked meal; he will offer. Because if there's one thing to know about a grown-ass man, it's that he gets shit done.