My mother strikes again

Now that my mother doesn’t have to worry about MB and me living in some one-room hovel that exists only in her imagination, she’s looking for other things to worry about.  Like cooking, or my lack thereof.

“Why don’t you cook for MB once in a while?” she asked earlier this week during an otherwise perfectly pleasant conversation.

Now.  I make maybe four dishes: stir-fried tofu (which I suppose could be replaced with chicken or pork), salmon in a soy sauce-brown sugar marinade, pasta and meat sauce (seasoned ground beef + jar of whatever sauce I happen to have), and a curry beef concoction made up of, yet again, ground beef, instant Japanese curry sauce, and carrots and potatoes, served over rice.  Of course there’s also instant Korean noodles with tofu and veggies, but even I won’t count that as cooking.

Basically what I’m saying is on my own, I won’t starve or have to do takeout every night.  I can get by.

But making one or more of those dishes for someone else?  I don’t think so.

“It doesn’t matter if it doesn’t taste good,” my mother went on.  “It would be a nice thing for you to do.  It would make things, you know. . .better for you two.”

Better how?  Will MB suddenly start seeing me as a valuable asset?  “I can’t get rid of her now! She cooks!”  I know what she means: it would make me better.  Through cooking I can earn my keep and prove my worth.  Why else would MB want to keep me around?  Cuz he loves me?  Naaah.

There’s absolutely nothing wrong with cooking something for someone you love, IF you want to do it.  And I’m not against bettering my culinary skills.  But doing it to fulfill some stereotypical role and because my mother says so makes me want to do it even less.  In fact, it really annoys me.  Here is my mother yet again foisting her value set on me, and asking me to live up to expectations that have nothing to do with me, MB, or the lives we lead.

We think of ourselves as partners.  We divide the work.  He cooks, does repairs, and lifts anything heavy.  I wash the dishes, do the laundry, and take care of the general up-keep and organization of the apartment.  The important thing is we share the work – who cares who does what?

So will I ever cook for MB?  Maybe, if the mood strikes.  But if my mother asks again?  I may have to lie and say I made some fancy dish, just to see her reaction.


  1. I think with our parents generation, at least in the immigrant community, we have to just accept that they want us to be those women. I remember my jr year of high school I was telling my aunt (who has 2 sons) that I had to get to school early the next morning because there was a rep from Stanford there and I wanted to meet with him. “Why? You don’t need to go to college. You need to come into the kitchen with me and learn to cook good foods so you can find a husband”.
    At that moment I REALLY appreciated my mom.

    • yes, i remember right before i got married, my grandmother said, “she’s not ready! she doesn’t know how to do anything!” even my cousin in china said, “you should really learn how to cook since you’re getting married.”

  2. I grew up with two chefs, so I was brought up with the idea that EVERYONE has to learn how to cook. My father feels that you can tell a lot about a person’s generous nature by his/her willingness to cook–after all, eating makes people happy. When I have dinner waiting for Peter when he comes home from work, he’s a happy man in a good mood the rest of the night. Right now I’m the one who does most of the cooking, but I can see that in a few years, he might be the one. I think the roles change depending on the circumstances–it’s not like our parents generation with those strict gender roles.