Monday, June 9, 2008

Are you being served?

I was listening to the radio the other day and there was a discussion on whether or not men should be served first at family meals and gathering. The vibe on the talk show was that the man should absolutely be served first- especially if he is the breadwinner in the household.

I wondered if this practice was cultural or generational? I have witnessed this phenomenon on several occasions. I watch as wives made their able-bodied husbands plates while their husbands sat and watched. It always seemed foreign and strange to me.I started to really think about this and wondered if I was the odd woman out when it came to this tradition. This is how things go down at dinner time in my house.

Here are one of several different scenarios.

1. I eat alone because Pete has to work late- AGAIN! Pete eats at work or I might make him a plate when he gets home. He would never expect me to do this- but sometimes I do it to be nice. Let's not forget how I put his milkshake in the fridge the other night. Picture me patting myself on the back.

2. I/ we (Pete is an excellent sous chef) make dinner and I put it out on the counter. We each help ourselves. Usually Peter will get me seconds if I am still hungry.

3. I eat while Pete is upstairs putting the baby to sleep. I get a little bitchy when I don't get to eat.

I guess I am kind of a princess when it comes to eating. I enjoy eating A LOT. I get super cranky if I don't eat and Pete just stays the same. However, I do NOT serve my husband his food like I am a waitress. I rarely make his plate before I make my own. If anything I make them simultaneously- 50/50- one for me and one for you.

I decided to do some research and by research I mean call three very good friends to get their opinions. The gist was that this practice was not very common among my friends. Here are some of my favorite quotes- sorry if I don't get them 100% accurate- I was strolling with Eliza while conducting my research. One said, " I might serve him dinner if both of his arms were broken- or he was holding my baby. Another laughed and said, "On the rare occasion that I do make dinner, I might bring it to him if he was busy working on something." Out of the four of us one is sweet and actually does make her man a plate first. She is a better and less hungry more patient woman than I. All three friends also said they would not make their husbands a plate (before making there own) if they were out somewhere- like a party or a picnic.

I also went straight to the source of my upbringing and asked my mom and dad. My mom said this never happened in our house. My dad was never home,at 4:00 p.m., when my mom, brother and I ate dinner. My mom left for work at 5:00 so we always ate super early. When we did eat with my dad I don't remember my mom serving him his food first/. I ventured back a generation further and inquired about my maternal grandparents and discovered that my gram did in fact serve my pop first. My dad said that was just the way it was done back then.

Well I am happy things are different now because that just isn't my style. I think it puts the man in a dominant position and the woman in a submissive position. I am not referring to serving you husband first as a nice gesture, I am more referring to the idea that a man should be served first as a sign of respect. I am a 50-50 kinda gal and I like it that way.


Pam said...

I'm with you! First off- my husband cooks most of the time. He is better at it then I am and I watch the kids and he cooks. Seems fair to me. Those night end up with us putting whatever it is on the table and serving ourselves. On the rare occasions that I do cook- I make my plate and his plate at the same time. Usually he ends up eating first though since I end up helping Riley with his food. But certainly not serving him first. I completely agree with you on this - great post!

Pam said...

Oh yeah- maybe this started to change when we started to move to two income families. If I didn't work- maybe I could see that I should serve my husband since he was out working all day, blah, blah, blah (though we all know the reality and being a stay at home mom is not a vacation!). But since we both work- forget it! ;)

THopgood said...

Yeah....I don't think so.

I don't "serve" my husband when I make him a meal any more than he "serves" me a plate when he cooks a meal for me. Just not happen'n here. My Grandparents also did serve the husbands first. Just the way it was. thank goodness things have changed.

Future Mom (Heather) said...

OK well considering it is 2008 and not 1945, I am a believer in everyone pulling their own weight around the house. Especially if both the man & woman are working, why should it be the wife's responsibility to do the cooking and serving of the food, the cleaning, taking care of the kids, and on and on while the husband sits in front of the tv sipping a cold drink? Don't get me wrong, I do nice things for the hubby and he does nice things for me. But marriage is a team kind of thing. I must admit that my hubby does way more around the house than any of his friends and he makes sure he brings it up constantly so i know how good I have it. I'm not sure if I am just too lazy to clean the whole house by myself (YES) or just a mean wife, but if I am in the bathroom scrubbing the tub, I want to hear him downstairs vacuuming. Luckily we have been living together for a long time so we each know our chores and do them whenever necessary without an argument.

When it comes to dinner time, I usually cook 4 nights & he cooks 1. During the weekends, we usually eat out. Whoever cooks that night will divide up the food equally onto 2 plates and put them on the counter. If I am cooking that night, the hubs will have to come into the kitchen anyway to get his drink so he will grab his plate...or was I supposed to bring him the drink too?? Where does it end? I am not a servant! Plus, we are both big eaters and it is like feeding time at the zoo at our house. If the food wasn't divided up evenly, the first person to get there would probably eat it all!!!

My mom was the ultimate stay at home mom & a pretty good example of the kind of wife we are referring to in this discussion. She stopped working to be a mom & did not go back to work until I was in high school. She would probably be the one getting my dad a plate of food while i made my hubby get off his butt and do it himself! How am I supposed to know what he is in the mood to eat?? All I would need to hear is "How come you didn't get me relish on my hot dog?" and I would probably lose it! Not sure if this is because of watching my mom & thinking I didn't want to be like that, or spending a lot of time with Danielle & jumping on her bandwagon of making the husbands pull their own weight!

Marcy said...

I've never thought of this much before, but now that I look back what we tend to do is that whoever made dinner will usually serve the plates, and it's either both at the same time or we'll make the plate for the other person first and then ourselves. Zach will always do this when he's making things like eggs or pancakes, too, where he still has more to do but it's much better eaten hot so he'll make my plate first and let me eat while he finishes making his. It's just a nice thing we do for each other.

Zach has always made more than I did, even when I was working, and he's always made it VERY clear that he sees my contribution to our household to be equal to his, even if his is monetary and mine less tangible. And hell, especially now that I'm taking care of our son he definitely appreciates what I do. He may be the "breadwinner" but we're equals in this relationship.

Amber said...

I think we're a 50-50 situation as well. We don't always all sit down together. It's usually me and Kaelin eating together and then hubby comes and joins us when we've already started eating.

I wish we ate together everyday without fail. I like that time together.

Amanda said...

Ha, ha, ha!!! I DON'T cook - unless I just have to and then it is something VERY simple!! Brian cooks - I told him when we met that if he wanted to have a good dinner he would either have to go out to eat or cook himself something!! He likes to cook, so that is fine with me!! I get my not cooking from my mother - my dad was the cook in our family growing up and still loves to do it today!!
We just serve ourselves usually - or Brian will even make my plate for me (I think that is so he can finish making his and get the rest of what's left)!! He knows if he waits on my to come make my own plate that it may be a while since i am usually giving baths or doing something child related!!!

Momma On The Go said...

Could you see me serving Justin first? We are a very equal opportunity family. I get home first and when dinner is actually cooked (not take out or next door at mom's) by the time I'm done cooking Madison is nutty for some playtime with Mommy so Justin plates up the food. Even at that all the plates are served at once. He has actually on more than one occasion tried helping by "serving" me dinner at barbeques or parties because I'm usually busy with Madison but this never ends well. I usually snap at him about being able to do it myself and preferring to pick my own food. He means well so I guess I shouldn't be so quick to snap!

My grandparents absolutely beleived in "the man" being served first. My Spanish side of the family who are not quite as Americanized as my immediate family still do this (even the young ones). When dinner was served at a family bbq down in Florida I noticed all the woman scrambling to get their men food. When I started feeling eyes on me wondering why I wasn't doing the same thing I joined in the tradition. Justin was impressed but knew better than to expect it at home!

Marmarbug said...

Umm yeah I cooked! So he can serve himself. I usually am making the Bean's plate anyways.

lamamanaturale said...

In our household, it's always been whoever's doing the cooking does the serving- unless we are having a buffet type dinner (tacos) or a huge feast where there's an array of food (X-Mas/Thanksgiving)! I think it's just a courtesy after we've cooked to serve a plate to the party that's been patiently waiting...but that's just the way I grew up and a personal choice. I'd probably be really happy if my hubby denied a plate and asked me to sit down first...and actually I think...he has on occassion...but usually it's I serve if I'm cooking! :)

Dana said...

I will say that I cook all of the time(except for Saturdays)!! Or if we BBQ!! Then that's Bri's job.. I make up a plate for him, if I'm making up mine at the same time.. Or he'll get his and make mine.. It really depends! To be honest it doesn't cross my mind - I do whatever is easy!!

Christy said...

Shit, I don't even cook dinner for my husband - let alone serve him first. When I was a kid, everyone sat around the table, passing food around, serving themselves.