Potato-gate

Hello all–

So I begin today’s post with a story that I am certainly not proud of. Things are a bit tense in my house because I yelled at my mother the other night. And what was the cause of my outburst? {Deep breath} A big pot full of the most God-awful mashed potatoes I have ever had. Yes, please judge me. I’m a terrible person.

I’m one of those Chinese kids that never knew that things like mashed potatoes and macaroni and cheese could ever be made from scratch. I grew up on packaged everything (you’re welcome, CPG companies) with only Chinese dinners being made from ancient recipes passed down through the generations. It wasn’t until I started cooking for myself that I realized– whoa: you make mashed potatoes with… omg… a POTATO. I then became an advocate for fresh mashed potatoes within my family. They are made with natural ingredients and no chemicals like the Box o’ Spuds at the store. They are cheaper (a potato is like 25 cents). They taste better.

My mother, with every suggestion, would always instantly rebut with “boxed is fine.” And I found it infuriating! Because it wasn’t from logic. It was her just being incredibly stubborn (which is genetically passed down, btw. Case in point: me.) Over and over, I would tell her the way to make mashed potatoes: boil a potato, drain, mash it, mix in milk and butter to the right fluffy consistency and voila! Fluffy potato heaven for under 50 cents a serving!

So the other day, my mother finally relented and made mashed potatoes fresh. My dad scooped up some and within half of a bite, clearly something was wrong. So I asked my mother: how did you make these? And she said: I boiled some potatoes and I mashed them. So then the questions: did you drain the water? No. Did you mix in milk and butter? No. She just took some potatoes, boiled and mashed them– the result of which was some kind of a pasty, tasteless gruel. I still have unpleasant flashbacks when I think about the potatoes.

During the conversation, my mom blamed it on the potatoes, saying that had she used the wrong potatoes. And then I lost it. Because it wasn’t the potatoes, goddamnit– it is just one of a number of times when she has failed to listen to directions from me to a poor ending. And she probably wasn’t listening to me then and would be destined to create another vat of killer potatoes in the near future.

So now, yes, I am an ass. A batch of bad potatoes, made in good faith, is not the end of the world. But I feel like Potato-gate was just the straw that broke this camel’s back. I have been having a series of discussions with friends, which I will go more into in the future, about how hard it is turning 30 and coming to the realization that your parents are human and in fact, struggling to do things that in the past they had effortlessly done. It’s sad and frustrating and it’s scary knowing that you have to start taking care of somebody else when you are ill-equipped to do it for yourself alone.

It’s worse for me since I currently live at my parents’– and I know I should be grateful and I am. But my mother has a history of not listening and I can’t figure out why she struggles to remember basic things. Here are some other stories:

  • The night before, I had finished most of a piece of chicken except for a little strip of it. I had asked my mom if she wouldn’t mind putting it in tupperware and she agreed. The next day I tried to find the chicken (to add to some nummynummy pasta I was making) only to find that she had eaten it. The solution to this, of course: don’t ask my mom to do things that I should just do myself. Point taken.
  • My sister recently got engaged and we all had dinner to celebrate. My mom asked my sister when they planned to have the wedding and she said June 2013. When she asked, why so late, my sister said that the summer is stressful so she wanted to do it in early June and June 2012 would be too rushed. The next day, I hear my mom and dad disagreeing over what my sister had said: my dad said June 2013, my mom said June 2012. So clearly my mother had not listened at all to my sister and her entire rationale re: timing. What’s worse: my mother is the one that explicitly ASKED the question. So she clearly zoned out at the start of the response. What’s even worse: my dad is technically deaf (he had cancer and the radiation burned a hole in his eardrum. He’s supposed to wear a hearing aid but only does so maybe 50% of the time.) My mother’s excuse had been that it was loud in the restaurant– but clearly if my DEAF father could hear it, that blows that whole theory to sh*t.
  • I am very vocal that my favorite peanut butter is Smooth Jiff. There is no contest. That is my favorite kind. Nearly every time my mom buys peanut butter, she comes home with Crunchy Skippy. Which would be ok except that she then also says, “I got your favorite kind!” And then I look around to see if this is being videotaped because I’m the subject of a longitudinal research study on how to slowly drive your child crazy.

So yes, I am a terrible person and I need to keep my temper under control. I am very lucky that my parents let me stay here while I get my life together and they are growing old moderately gracefully. And really, this is probably true for all families and all parents and the only thing making it worse for me is I’m around my parents way too much and bear witness to their non-stop antics. (I have many more stories btw.)  I just really need to get myself up and running… and then just keep running… away from my parents… and all the weird stuff that they do…

— DOA

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