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Cooking for Introverts
My side of the family vacationed in the mountains instead of at the beach this year. North Carolina gives you options like that. We rented a big house on Lake Lure plus an overflow place a few minutes up the mountain. With five families, including 12 grandkids, it’s hard to find a place with beds for all the adults and enough floor space for all the kids. We all hung out at the lake during the day, swimming, paddle boarding, jumping off the boat house, playing games with the cousins, and eating. So much eating.
My mom had only brought half of Costco with her for snacks and making meals, so thankfully there was a grocery store nearby when we ran out. And though she is a great cook, I ended up doing a lot of the cooking. Simple things, for the most part, like barbeque or steaks, hotdogs and burgers, corn and mac and cheese, PB&J or grilled cheese, salad and sliced fruit, pancakes and bacon and eggs. Mostly I took over to give her a break, since this was her vacation after all, and partly due to now the only one among my siblings without a small child needing constant attention. But also because I enjoyed it. Despite being a bit hectic when all the kids are trying to give their lunch orders at the same time, and a bit frustrating when dinner is ready but no one, adults included, want to get out of the water to come eat while it’s hot, I came to a helpful realization. Cooking is a perfect activity for introverts.
Having twelve kids buzzing around all the time is a lot of fun, and I enjoy talking to my siblings and their spouses too, but even the most extroverted person would find it all a little overwhelming at times. I am not that person. Cooking is a good excuse to slip away from the craziness and have a few moments to yourself. Chopping veggies is a lot easier than carrying on a conversation. Grilling meat is downright relaxing next to playing out the same make-believe scenario for the hundredth time with a 3-year-old. Making a big meal requires some work but almost no emotional effort. Plus, it’s useful. People will thank you for it. You’ll be the good, helpful, responsible kid.
I’ve been naturally doing this for a while now. My nieces and nephews call me Uncle Ice Cream because I’m always the one who prepares and serves the desert at family gatherings. It’s only partially because my kids are usually the first done and begging for desert. The main reason is that all the real adults are still at the table chatting while I’ve quietly excused myself to avoid the conversation. That’s ok. It’s better than going to read or watch TV in the basement. We introverts can only take so much. The next time you’re at a big party or family gathering and want to curl up in a corner, try helping out in the kitchen instead. Cooking is fun and relaxing when you get into that solitary flow state. Cleaning up can be nice, too. Everyone will love you. They will never know you are avoiding them. I mean, even doing the dishes is better than talking to people, right?