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There Goes Mom Again, Setting Impossible Standards

, , , , , | Related | September 9, 2021

My mom has a short temper and is really easily irritated by anything she sees as incompetence. I’ve pretty much stopped volunteering to help with chores, because the more I do, the higher the chance is that something won’t go perfectly and I’ll get yelled at.

One day, I go to the store to do some shopping of my own. Because I don’t learn well from experience and I sometimes speak without thinking, I also ask my mom if there’s anything she needs. She tells me she needs ink for her printer, so I write down the printer’s details and head out. 

At the store, I find a box of ink that says it’s suitable for Mom’s printer, but I’m wary of bringing back the wrong thing and getting in trouble for it. I take a picture of the box and text it to my stepdad — Mom still only has a flip phone — asking him to show it to Mom and confirm that it’s the right ink. He texts back that she said yes, so I buy the ink and head home. I put away my own shopping and give Mom the ink. She heads back to the spare room where the printer is and comes back out a few minutes later.

Mom: “This is knockoff ink! It’s the wrong brand! How could you not realize that?!”

I didn’t know the brand mattered, as long as it worked with the printer, so I hadn’t even checked the brand. More importantly, I KNEW that I might not recognize the ink Mom wanted, which is WHY I ASKED FOR CONFIRMATION.

Me: “There must have been a miscommunication somewhere. I wasn’t sure whether that was the right ink, so I sent [Stepdad] a picture and asked him to show it to you. He said you said it was right. You didn’t?”

Mom: “Yeah, but I was busy! I didn’t look at it! I just said yes, and now we’ve got this stuff that probably won’t even work in my printer!”

Yes, “probably”. She hasn’t even tried it yet. She stomps back to the printer, puts in the cartridge, prints a test page, and then stomps back out.

Mom: “See?! It didn’t print right! How could you think this was the right ink? I noticed it was wrong as soon as I looked at it!”

If that were true, none of this would have happened! But she’s right that the page didn’t print right. I still don’t believe that this is entirely my fault, but I accept that the ink is wrong and I’m scrambling to make things right, offering to go back and get the right ink, to pay for both, whatever she wants. Then, my stepdad goes to look at the printer. I’m upset enough by this point not to remember the details, but he points out that the ink cartridge was, in fact, not installed correctly. He fixes it and prints another test page, which comes out perfect. Mom goes back to the spare room again to print out whatever she needed the ink for.

Me: “So, summing up: I bought ink that will work with the printer. Mom didn’t tell me she wanted a specific brand, confirmed it was right without looking at it, and put it in wrong.”

Stepdad: “Yep.”

Me: “Ten bucks says somehow this is still my fault.”

Stepdad: “No bet.”

A few minutes later, Mom comes back out into the living room to chastise me some more, even though at this point it’s clear that a) there is absolutely nothing wrong and b) we only THOUGHT there was something wrong because she couldn’t be bothered to look at the picture I texted her or at the ink cartridge’s instructions. How does her lecture start?

Mom: “[My Name], you’ve got to pay more attention!”

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