Eating meat does not keep me up at night. I think I would be capable of hunting and gathering my family’s dinner in post-apocalyptic Texas. I also think, my two and four year old boys should make their own breakfast. I’m not sure which I’ll find the answer to first.
A while ago, my wife tells me at the dinner table she wants to be a vegan. My oldest son says, “What’s a began?” His younger brother also gave her a quizzical look while smearing ketchup in his hair.
“Vee, Vv. Vegan.” I replied.
“What’s that?” he puzzled.
Approaching age 5 my oldest son is starting to ask questions. He’s always done that, but now he’s actually remembering things that we have talked about before. It’s great, except that I have to be more creative about making snide remarks.
My wife interjected, “It’s a person who doesn’t eat meat, only yummy vegetables.”
He cocked one eyebrow and said, “Why?”
I took of bite of my chicken and nodded in agreement. I’m not against vegans; I’m against a house full of vegetables that my kids won’t eat. Maybe I’m a bad parent. Maybe my kids don’t like vegetables.
I said, “Ok, fine by me.”
She glared as if she had heard, “Fine by me if you want to quit eating delicious meat. You won’t make it till lunch. I’ll have a double baconator with cheese waiting for you.” (For the record, I did NOT say that and I do not appreciate feminine telepathy.) She knew that I had my reservations, but she assured me that she would fight the self-righteousness newly bestowed upon her and that I could eat all of the death-meat I wanted.
I never doubted her being able to give up meat. It’s the cheese. She knew by becoming a vegan she would have to give up delicious, stinky, funky, blow your socks off cheese. I love my wife dearly, but I have never known her to be a “stick-to-it” person. In nine years of marriage, she has purchased books for the South Beach, Adkins, Hollywood, Blood Type, and Morning Banana diets. I recently had a garage sale and I offered a dollar to anyone who would take them from me. There were no takers, but somehow I ended up with a copy of P90X to complete my collection.
The next day, we went to the store and got a shopping cart full of vegetables for our first, delicious meal. I have never used so many pots and pans to prepare one dish in my life. There were onions to caramelize, pasta to boil, and nuts to toast. Add a dash of “making a separate kid meal because there’s a better chance of them eating wood chips on the playground than partaking of this” and you’ve got a recipe for failure.
Time passed and she stayed true to her word. Every meal we ate together had a meat option for me. Sometimes, I ate the vegetables by themselves as a sign of solidarity. When she traveled for work, it was increasingly difficult for her to prepare and/or find meals that adhered to her diet, but she made it work. As the weeks turned into months, I waited for the other shoe to drop.
After a particularly brutal day at home with my kids, my wife offered to go get the ingredients for a quinoa recipe while I napped. I have heard of quinoa compared to the texture of eating an ant-pile, but I was tired and I do not look nap gift horses in the mouth.
My wonderful wife returned with food, wine, and bubbles; the standard of a good time. The kids stepped outside to play with and eventually argue over the bubbles. I poured my wife a glass of wine and in the process of unpacking the groceries I found cheese.
“I knew you would break eventually,” I smirked.
“You’re a cheese-eating vegan. That’s not a vegan, that’s a pretend vegan.”
“I think I’ve been doing really well. Vegan-Rome was not built in a day.”
She took her glass of wine from me and walked outside to watch our boys. I got the sneaking suspicion I had hurt her feelings, so like any man who values marital relations, I pursued.
“It’s not a big deal,” I said. “I was just poking at you.”
“I know it’s not a big deal. I think it’s you, who thinks it is.”
Our kids have an uncanny knack for needing attention when we are trying to fight. We are trying to do some perfectly good arguing and they begin a steady stream of questions and complaints. We talked louder. They threw punches at each other. I separated them and used the classic, “What is going on here?!” They fumbled and flailed through their incoherent stories, both convinced they had been terribly wronged. The dispute was over my older son not liking the way his younger brother was blowing bubbles In my youngest’s defense involved more eating bubbles than blowing.
“Son,” I said, “People don’t have to do things the way you do them. Everyone is different and you can’t go around expecting others to do things the way you want them to.”
“Good advice,” my wife said.
I looked over at my wife as her words lingered on my ears. She was not trying to put me down or hurt me as she felt she had been hurt. She was kindly asking me to reconsider a piece of myself; a piece of me that had held kept her in my “bubble-box” for as long as she had been buying diet books. I was so sure I had figured out my wife’s boundaries that I kept putting her back in that box every time she tried something new.
I have known my wife long enough to laugh at how different we were when we first met. One thing that has not changed is how much she continues to impress me the longer I know her. This year she ran her first 5k and did not stop once. She got her weight down to where she was when we first met and she eats non-animal, non-gmo, First-World-Problem food products. She is a beautiful contradiction.
Thankfully for my wife, our children are stripping me of the ridiculous notion that I am always right. In fact, I’m wrong a lot. Who knew?
Currently, my lovely wife says she’s an occasional pescatarian, but whatever label she goes by I just see a wonderfully, intelligent woman. Time allows us to see the patterns in our spouse’s behaviors. My wife has her foibles and I have mine; apparently, we’re all hypocrites sometimes. The only pattern that matters is that I trust my wife to work better with me than anyone else on earth. What kind of a partner does not challenge, frustrate, and excite you? I did not fall in love with my wife because she was a carbon copy of me. I fell for my wife because she is a cheese-eating vegan.