JulieLeung.com: a life told in tidepools

pictures and stories from the water’s edge

JulieLeung.com: a life told in tidepools header image 2

Everyone makes mistakes

January 3rd, 2004 · 4 Comments

Last night I burned dinner. Actually I burned dinner a few nights ago. I decided to try to make curry a couple days early and let the spicy flavors develop longer – curry’s supposed to taste better the second day. But instead, somehow I burned what I made. And the only flavor that developed was that of burnt wok bottom.

As soon I heated it up last night in a pot, immediately the smell filled the kitchen. And it wasn’t a good one. I thought I had avoided including the charred chicken and other black bits when I had put it in the fridge, but somehow the aroma was still strong. Looking at the pot with its worn black bottom, I wondered if it had played a part. It seemed to smell too. I didn’t want to waste it and we didn’t have much else to eat, so I served it anyway.

At dinner, I asked Ted if he thought the pot I was using was getting too old and that’s why I’ve been burning dinners more often.

Ted said he had been trying not to say anything, but he had been tasting the burned flavor.

I said I was sorry. I felt bad. What kind of mother/wife/cook/friend was I to serve something nearly inedible for dinner? I knew too that Ted had a sensitive palate. If the way to a man’s heart is through his stomach, well, then, disgusting the taste buds isn’t a good way to build romance in a relationship…and a twelve year old marriage with three small children can use all the help it can get 🙂

Soon Abigail began clamoring about how her food tasted yucky. And I could tell Michaela was about to get on board too, eager to share her opinion on dinner. Even Elisabeth, the baby, didn’t have much of an appetite for it, refusing the food.

Then Ted said:
“Everyone makes mistakes.”
He then asked the girls “Do you ever make a mistake?”
Abigail and Michaela shook their heads “no”.

Ted began describing how we all make mistakes, and how we should be kind and gentle to each other when we do mess up.
Michaela thought of an example: wetting her pants!
Ted and I agreed that was a good one! I was quiet, but Ted continued, encouraging the girls that we all should help each other. We talked about how when someone has an accident – like the moments when Michaela didn’t make it to the potty – we all help clean it up and deal with it. Mistakes are simply something we work through together.

Later that night we would talk about it more, Ted and me. How we’ve learned in the past year especially how important it is to have grace and patience with each other’s mistakes. How we should not try to hide or deny it when we make mistakes. How we all mess up and can help each other clean up the mess when it happens. It’s part of loving each other and living with each other. It’s part of being human.

We both wondered why I had been having problems cooking familiar recipes recently so Ted inspected the pot and the wok. The wok seemed to be the culprit, with lots of residue that had built up over ten+ years time. The inside was completely black, thin layers peeling off. That explained what probably happened when the curry simmered for nearly an hour inside it. I probably should have been scrubbing it better; I don’t know much about caring for woks – except to avoid using soap on the oily patina – and I’m often pretty tired when I do my night time dish duty.

So after dinner Ted scrubbed the wok. It was our family entertainment for the evening. After the girls went to bed I took my turn. We each went through a few SOS pads. Ted especially made the wok look lovely again. It now is a beautiful silver and black shade, black on the bottom, but a thin solid black,without the carbon bits flaking off on the finger tip, and a seasoned silver/iron tone the rest of the inside. Tomorrow I will season it again with oil and then use it to cook another meal – I can hardly wait!

In that moment when Ted said “everyone makes mistakes”, I realized how much I loved my husband. I saw again why I married this man. He could have said, “Yes, Mommy burned the food.” or asked me why I had not paid attention while cooking, but instead he turned the burned curry into opportunity to teach and talk with our children. He found mercy and grace for my ruined meal. I am grateful and even more in love with this man, mistake-making married lovers that we are.

Tags: marriage

4 responses so far ↓

  • 1 enoch // Jan 3, 2004 at 11:52 pm

    this is beautiful! it’s so easy to burn things, and that sounds like a wok that’s been well loved 😉 It’s wonderful that Ted loves you and the kids so much more than a meal, and had the patience to use the opportunity to teach a lesson. That’s longsuffering for ya!

  • 2 Ted Leung on the air // Jan 5, 2004 at 12:04 am

    Yep, everyone makes mistakes

    On Saturday, Julie
    posted about an incident that happened at our house. Today, it was my turn, except instead of dinner it was a blog post that scarce mother free time had gone into.

    It all started innocently enough. Last night Julie told me th

  • 3 Katherine // Jan 17, 2004 at 9:05 am

    This made my eyes water. You are blessed.

  • 4 Patricia Taylor (Katherine's mom) // Jan 17, 2004 at 4:33 pm

    I remember hearing it said that a good marriage is one composed of two excellent forgivers. In this case, you had in Ted not only an excellent forgiver, but an active participant in a solution for the initial problem. Grace is something we all need. I am very fortunate to have a loving husband as well. Love in action, pot-scrubbing and unblaming.