17: I Blame My Mother

17: I Blame My Mother

From Chicken Soup for the Soul: The Multitasking Mom's Survival Guide

I Blame My Mother

The most remarkable thing about my mother is that for thirty years she served the family nothing but leftovers. The original meal has never been found.

~Calvin Trillin

It is no secret that I have never been nor ever will be a Martha Stewart type. I am the “anti-Martha Stewart” if anything! That said, I have managed to raise three relatively healthy children into adulthood, and my husband has never lost weight due to my dysfunction in the kitchen. I don’t have a huge repertoire of recipes so I go for the tried and true, the meals tested over time and family-approved, because if I digress from those formulas there are always serious repercussions.

I blame my mother. She failed to instill household skills of any kind in her one and only daughter — me. She didn’t much like to cook or clean, and she was a meat, potatoes, and gravy cook. I suggested cooking spaghetti one night, and she almost had a coronary. After her first grandchild was born, my mother attempted to become the stereotypical perfect grandmother. On my daughter’s third birthday, she decided to bake her favored grandchild a birthday cake. Being close to Easter, my mother thought she could combine bunnies and birthday cake. The result was a two-tiered vanilla concoction that my father thought looked like a “motor scooter.” My mother never baked again.

My mother once shooed a Fuller Brush vacuum cleaner salesman away from our door by turning the garden hose on him and yelling as she did: “I don’t use the vacuum cleaner I’ve got. Why in the world would I want another one?”

Knowing I have a DNA disadvantage, there have still been times when I have been forced to overcome my inbred homemaking impediments and venture out to uncharted territory. I was hosting a large family-and-friends gathering, and it was imperative that the meal be edible, the house be impeccable and the evening be delightful. I had planned a simple, foolproof meal, one that I had successfully time- and family-tested in the past. I brushed off the cobwebs on my vacuum and attacked every dust bunny in the house until the infestation was gone! I set a table with a plethora of cutlery that would impress royalty. All was perfect until I realized I had neglected to plan a dessert. I knew baking was out of the question. I could buy something at the local grocery store, but my guests were about to arrive so there was no time for me to duck out and find something to plop onto a fancy plate and claim credit for later.

In a panic, I raided my cupboards and found some pudding cups, fruit cocktail, and marshmallow fluff. First, I scooped some pudding into bowls, then the fruit, and then the marshmallow fluff. I added more pudding, more fruit and a little more marshmallow fluff on top. It looked fabulous! With no time to spare, I popped the little bowls into the fridge and welcomed my first guest.

All was going splendidly. I may not know how to cook or bake, but I do know how to play a good host. When it came time for dessert, there were many “ooohs and aaahhs” at the presentation — until each guest tried to dip a spoon into their bowl. My mistake was in not realizing that marshmallow fluff hardens to concrete when refrigerated. One guest managed to pickaxe his spoon into the goo and wave it around like a bowl flag before the rest of the guests dissolved into frenzied laughter.

Mortified at the dessert disaster around me, all I could say was, “I blame my mother.”

~Lynn Dove

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