Mindy Kaling’s book sections on parents…
A note about me: I do not think stress is a legitimate topic of conversation, in public anyway. No one ever want to hear how stressed out anyone else is, because most of the time everyone is stressed out. Going on and on in detail about how stressed out I am isn’t conversation. It’ll never lead anywhere. No one is going to say, “Wow, Mindy, you really have it especially bad. I have heard some stories of stress, but this just takes the cake.”
This is entirely because my parents are immigrant professionals, and talking about one’s stress level was just totally outlandish to them. When I was three years old my mom was in the middle of her medical residency in Boston. She had been a practicing obstetrician and gynecologist in Nigeria, but in the United States she was required to do her residency all over again. She’d get up at 4:00 a.m. and prepare breakfast, lunch, and dinner for my brother and me,because she knew she wouldn’t be home on time to have dinner with us. Then she’d leave by 5:30 a.m. to start rounds at the hospital. My dad, an architect, had a contract for a building in New Haven, Connecticut, which was two hours and forty-five minutes away. It would’ve been easier for him to move to New Haven for the time of the construction of the building, but then who would have taken care of us when my mom was at the hospital at nights? In my parents’ vivid imaginations, lack of at least one parent’s supervision was a gateway to drugs, kidnapping, or at the very minimum, too much television watching. In order to spend time with us and save money for our family, my dad dropped us off at school, commuted the two hours and forty-five minutes every morning, and then returned home in time to pick us up from our after-school program. Then he came home and boiled us hot dogs as an after-school snack, even though he was a vegetarian and had never eaten a hot dog before. In my entire life, I never once heard either of my parents say they were stressed. That was just not a phrase I grew up not being allowed to say. That, and the concept of “Me time.”
My parents get along because they are pals. They’re not big on analyzing their relationship. What do I mean by pals? It mostly means they want to talk about the same stuff all the time. … They can talk about [gardening] the way I talk about New York Fashion Week. They can spend an entire day together talking nonstop about [certain flowers] and Men of a Certain Age, watch Piers Morgan, and then share a vanilla milkshake and go to bed. They’re pals. (Note: they’re pals, not best friends. My mom’s best friend is her sister. A best friend is someone you can talk to ad nauseam about feelings, clothing, and gossip. My dad is completely uninterested in that.