My fiancee Matt and I are recently engaged, he is about to graduate soon from Harvard, and I will follow next year. We just moved into our first apartment just of campus. I come from a very low income household and put myself through college with grants, loans, and hard work. Matt on the other hand comes from money. He is definitely used to the finer things in life, and he was raised to have a certain mentality. He is a great man don’t get me wrong, but then there’s his MOTHER; I don’t even know where to begin on this subject. His mother was introduced to me after a year of dating. As a freshman I did not see all the red flags of a serious “Mamma’s Boy”. Early into my Sophomore year I began to see some things that made me wonder, but now it’s become a nightmare. He lived off campus a.k.a. (AT HOME) his Freshman year, then on campus his second year, then off campus and had 2 other male roommates. The time of off campus living is where things began getting weird. I noticed that there was always two days worth of meals prepared and labeled with heating instructions and all, in his fridge at all times. Upon spending a night there I was greeted with a not so welcoming glare as his mom walked into his room to hand deliver his next two days of breakfast, lunch, and dinner. I hadn’t met her before, and I believe that was because he was embarrassed about their tight knit bond. As our eyes met that morning I realized she was going to be a fun one, and that “Matty Matt” as she so lovingly called him was in fact the worse possible “mamma’s boy” cliche walking and talking in 100 mile radius. After she picked up his laundry and we had formally been introduced, she looked at him and said “next time try giving me a call before I come over and nearly have a heart attack.” and walked out.
I am “heart attack worthy?”:Really? speeding up to now, we announced our engagement over Easter dinner and were met with smiling faces, congratulations, and happiness……Except Mrs. Y’vania her disapproving glare almost turned me to stone on the spot.
We moved into our new place about 6 months ago. Matt and I are very much in love and share numerous things in common including that we can not cook to save our lives. I rarely ate enough growing up and when I did it was because I was waiting tables at a restaurant for tuition money, and they fed me twice when I worked a double. He has never had to. His family is mixed nationalities, Portuguese and Italian, and that is what he is used to eating. I can barely make a burger.
As of lately I have tried to prepare a few meals I thought he would like but with no luck, recipes are not easy to come by, at least not ones that don’t involve hours of preparation and some know how on what I’m doing. I even asked his mom for just a few of the recipes I know are his favorites, she exclaimed matter of factly that “Those are family recipes, and although you two may be engaged, you are NOT family yet, and anything can happen”. Stunned and hurt I went on my way tale between my legs and with a heavy heart. I have tried being nice asking for tips etc.she is IMPOSSIBLE… So Hey Lady I really need your help, what do I do?
Dear ReciPEE’d OFF:
It seems you have two rather large issues to confront head on. One as I’m sure you realize is going to require a bit of finesse and possibly even out smarting your self proclaimed nemesis. The bond between mother and son is a very intricate thing. Dad’s often refuse to coddle their sons and even tend to want to “toughen them up”. While their mother as motherly roles go are the ones who nurture, hug, hold, and “mother” their children, often into adulthood. A son knows that if his heart is broken by a girl his mother is the one who will dry his tears, mend his heart, and probably advise him on what he “should” look for in a mate. While a mother feels more often than not that “if” she has raised a great man, he will find a worthy soul mate, but also that it only takes but one evil female to undo ALL her years of hard work. Usually moms are extreme because they have wiped the tears, kissed the “boo boo’s”, and scared away countless boogie men, ghosts, and other beasts. However in this case there is a whole other element to this mother. Plainly she seems to be a devious, selfish, and impractical woman. Hearing you not mention a father. I am going to assume he is either out of the picture now, or possibly never was in it. If he is he has probably learned it is easier for him to smile nod and agree, than to argue, make a fuss or disagree. Chances are your fiancee has learned the same, add to that the “mamma’s boy” aspect as you quite perfectly put it, and you have a recipe all right. A recipe for disaster….. First you must have the lines of communication wide open, after all this is the man you are going to marry. He must hear it from your mouth that YOU will come first in his life once you are married. As it should be. His mother will always be his mother, they do not have to fight for their love it is natural, they do not have to weather storms that face their household since it is your and his household that will be battered by future storms. Their love is a very different, still very beautiful yet long standing love. They have spent years building this relationship between them to get it so strong and unfailing. Now that you two are about to embark on a life time of love and love lessons, it is you and him that need to build your foundation strong and unwavering. That will take time, uninterrupted time. I do not mean he should choose, or ignore his mother. However letting him know how you feel is important. But the way you do it is also important. You cannot come to him with an accusative, or attacking approach. He will automatically want to defend his mother and her actions, even if they are wrong. You need to treat this like an egg toss. Gently tossing the fragile subject out toward him, cautiously and with genuine care and concern for the safety of such a sensitive thing hoping his outstretched hands will rise to catch your concern. Then standing at a safe distance you hope and wait patiently for this breakable subject to be returned to you with the same reverence and care. Once you and your man have talked and set clear boundaries, charted a course of action, and come to see things from one another’s point of view, then you will feel much less like your rivaling her alone and more like your coaching her as a team into the (new) world of the both of you.
As for the cooking, personally I love to cook. I have never had a teacher or been one to follow recipes; however there are many ways to approach this and come out looking like Betty freaking Crocker. First since there are ethnic challenges, probably ingredients you have never heard of, or words or instructions in the recipe, that might get lost in translation. So I strongly advise the following. Usually there are cooking classes offered all over the place, especially in and around Boston. If they are not pocket friendly often there are free ones, you may have to dig but they are there. Also make friends with the older woman of the small communities, they are the best teachers. Ask your friends that are Italian or Portuguese if their family members might show you a few things. Take him to restaurants that feature dishes you know he loves and find out what he really can not do without. Then there is this secret weapon.
And several others like it, simply type copy cat recipe into your search engine and BAM…Every place you love, every dish, sauce, dressing, you name it they help you recreate it. I am sure once you learn a few, you will be cooking in no time. And knowing you went the extra mile for him, is the secret ingredient. Hope this helps Bon Appetite!
Sincerely: Hey Lady