I know that opinions are like assholes in that everybody’s got one, but after close to four years of experience, I feel fairly confident in saying that my mother-in-law has more than her fair share. This woman doesn’t just have opinions, she has Opinions, and she shares them frequently. And persistently.
Don’t get me wrong – I do like her very much. After all, she did give me a plate of cookies and a plastic, helmet-clad goldfish bobblehead toy today, both of which I desperately needed. The problem lies in the fact that she also gave me her opinions on (A) my lack of cooking skills, and (B) her desire for me to produce two grandchildren for her. Soon.
Now I know that I am no Barefoot Contessa, but I do at least know how to cook. I made tortilla soup just the other day (from scratch – it’s not like I’m bragging that I successfully maneuvered the can opener) and I’ve also been known to bake cakes, make pasta dishes, and create breakfast casseroles. I’ve just discovered that when I cook, it takes a lot of time, a lot of ingredients, and a lot of pots and pans. My dream is to create dishes that shout Food Network! while also using a maximum of one pan and costing under $10, which is virtually impossible. I remedy this quandary by either letting my husband do the cooking or eating out, with an emphasis on the latter. If I have $25 to spend on food, why on earth would I use it to buy ingredients that will take hours to assemble into a moderately palatable conglomeration, when I could just let my favorite Vietnamese/Japanese/Thai establishment feed me with little effort on my part?
My mother-in-law does not share this philosophy. Every time I am at her house, she bluntly suggests that I learn how to cook. I compliment her on the cookies she baked; she tells me that she’ll give me the recipe and that they are “so easy to make!” and that “cooking is a learning experience!” I mention that her Thanksgiving dinner was superb; she tells me that I had better start practicing so that I can soon host the family dinner. I don’t even like turkey; why the hell would I devote an entire day to the preparation of a damned bird? You want turkey, woman, then YOU make turkey. I suspect that her image of her youngest son’s family did not include him in the kitchen in a frilly apron while his wife polishes her gun and buys expensive things online. But that’s how the proverbial cookie crumbled, and I don’t see a problem.
The other thing I heard about not once, not twice, but three times at dinner tonight was her opinion that I should have at two grandchildren in the not too far distant future. First of all, I only want one child. Second, I have absolutely no intention of producing this offspring anytime in the next, oh, let’s say, ten years. Why would she ever think I would want children soon? Has she met me? I am a narcissistic, obsessively neat, career-driven teenager with a penchant for impulsive behavior and extravagant purchases. Exactly which part of me screams “I must give birth!”?
It’s not so much even the subject of the opinions that irks me. Were these opinions delivered quickly and succinctly, I would be fine. However, my mother-in-law practices the Chinese water torture method of giving advice: she continually brings the subject up over and over and over again, until I am ready to cry, cook, reproduce – anything to stop the talking.
In her defense, she makes a great broccoli cheese casserole, and her son is pretty decent.