Considering the kitchen: the Matron does not excel at heat. She can make a mean salad. There's pudding, various arrangements of fruit, and wicked sandwiches (add hummus to everything!). But put something in the oven or on a burner, and well, she's sort of toast.
Here's the scene. There are noodles on the stove and a chicken in the oven.
Her husband comes home, registers the emergency and immediately resets the oven temperature and turns down the heat on the noodles.
This annoys the Matron.
"Really! I have this under control!"
Another chapter in this story:
Scarlett: "Mom? Can Dad make us popcorn? I really want popcorn! I'm DYING for popcorn."
Matron: "Dad's busy. But I can."
Scarlett: "No thank you. I don't need popcorn."
Matron: "Scarlett, I am perfectly capable of popping corn in a pan and putting butter on it. I am 47 years old, have a doctorate, have traveled the world. I can pop corn."
Scarlett: "No thank you."
Then there was the quite remarkable Thanksgiving. Stryker caught his mother putting the turkey into the oven.
Stryker: "Mom!!! Where's Dad? Please don't do this!"
Now, the Matron has not only a problem with heat but with the whole narrative of inept motherhood -- completely competent women pretend that their houses are dirty, kids out of control, dinners boiled to death. If you read a lot of blogs about mothering, you find women highlighting (extending?) their shortcomings. It's currently hip to be inept at the fundamentals. You know what she means. There's some weird sort of value in dismissing the job, in lamenting the cookies not made and dishes not done--the kid whose camp you forgot.
But the cooking and heat thing in this household? Not the dismissive or imagined shortcoming, but a genuine family battleground.
Because the Matron will die at the stove top over her right to be in control of dinner -- even a bad one -- rather than have her husband come home and revise everything she's started.
"Hey, let me stir that pot."
"I can take over the pork loins."
"Are you sure you want the steaks to stay on the pan for so long?"
Makes her crazy.
Too many cooks in your kitchen? Or are you in the one in control?