Saturday, November 29, 2014

A Conversation With My Baby Boy

Reminiscing...five-and-a-half years ago, my baby boy was a Georgia Merit Scholar and a high school honor graduate with a year of college already under his belt.  

originally published in The Valdosta Daily Times January 2009

“How was VSU-town?” That was the first question for my younger son, a simultaneous high school senior and college freshman when he came home for lunch. He said the parking was good today as it usually is on Fridays. While I’m suspicious many are skipping class, my look-on-the-positive-side kid said students were probably heading home for the weekend.

He asked what I was up to, always catches me off guard when a young person shows interest in an older person’s activities, and I replied, “using my solar hair dryer.” It also catches me off guard when a younger person laughs at an older person. My son knew that meant sitting in a sunny window drying my hair, catching a few highlights compliments of Mother Nature.

I told him I was trying to think of something to write about.

This is my quiet kid, so imagine my surprise when he had a few suggestions for me. “Have you written about the economy?” It was my turn to laugh. I’m sorely lacking in knowledge to comment in depth on that topic. I gather our beleaguered outgoing president will long be accused of the same, but God bless him for all he did to prevent another terrorist attack on his watch.

“How about our ridiculously changing weather?”

Whoa! He spoke again.

This is a topic I can lend some 45-plus years observation.

Ridiculously changing weather is the staple of South Georgia “winters.” My husband and I were sitting on the back deck sunning on Christmas Day. A few short weeks later we were covering tender plants and running outside spigots at night.

A lot of folks blame the “ridiculously changing weather” for sickness, but I don’t budge on my opinion. Sicknesses are caused by bacteria and viruses, Ebolas and bubonics, but not the reading on the outdoor thermometer. South Georgians can count on at least one balmy week in February and that week gives me something to hang onto: spring will return. Winter’s not for me, but I didn’t get a say in the matter.

Enough about the weather.

My son asked if I’d written about “how Friday is the best day.” I have vague recollections of how Friday is the best day, but after years of being a work-at-home mom, Fridays are sometimes confused with Tuesdays, Sundays and Wednesdays. Blessed child he is to still be in the stage of life where Fridays mean freedom from the constraints of a classroom.

I never tire of learning but found classrooms the mental equivalent of being hog-tied. For that matter, so was confinement to an office from 8 to 5. This dominant trait has appeared in another generation.

My younger son declared business as his major and my first reaction was ‘what?’ I kept it to myself, though, as I trust he’ll find his way sooner or later. Business was just a word to fill in a blank when he didn’t know the true answer. If this child was confined to a cubicle he’d be the one to photocopy his butt and throw things over the dividers before hanging himself in despair with the tie he hated wearing.

One free spirit recognizes another and the boy-turned-man I just referred to as a child in the last paragraph received a double dose of it from his parents. He went to college a year early not because he delights in school, quite the opposite. He wants to get out as soon as possible. He is jumping through the appropriate hoops solely in hopes doors won’t be slammed in his face in the future.

As I type he is building a Super Cub in the living room. I wonder where he will take wings and fly in life, perhaps as a cast member of MythBusters, a television show where explosions often accompany myth debunking. Maybe he’ll fly a real life Piper Cub, I don’t know.

I do know my boy won’t let this world tie him down because within him resides a “Friday-is-the-best-day” spirit.

Friday, November 28, 2014

To Believe or Not to Believe

Surely all my mother wanted was a nice Christmas picture of me.  I remember this evening like yesterday, exactly what I was thinking of this imposter to an imaginary character.  There were two strands of beads, one white, one purple, which went with this outfit--I couldn't get around wearing this uncomfortable dress, but I did refuse to wear the beads.  I am six years old here.
When my kids were growing up, we didn't go along with Santa Claus, or the tooth fairy and Easter bunny for that matter.  It wasn't a rigid legalistic belief which precipitated this parenting decision.  It was a conversation with my beloved Grannie.  

When a sibling told her there was no Santa Claus, she was hurt deeply, not so much at the revelation, but that her parents had "lied" to her, the word she used.  I perceived through her storytelling, Grannie always told true stories, the hurt she felt so many decades ago.  Grannie never suggested that I not participate in this type childhood wonder with my children and she occasionally made reference to "Sanny Claus."  It was her truth, though, plus the fact that I had always been a Santa skeptic.  

From my earliest memories, and I have memories of wearing high top shoes with bells on them, I had put it together that my daddy took us kids to visit our other grandmother at the same time Santa allegedly dropped by with his stash.  As a tot, I grilled my mother about how he got in the house because we had no fireplace, no chimney for him to shimmy down.  I was aware, even as a very young child, of the inequity of gifts different children received, some receiving none.  

As an adult, I valued truth, and with the memory of my Grannie's disappointment deeply embedded in my heart, I did not want to do anything to shake my children's faith in their parents.  I told them other children believed and it was not our place to dispute their belief.  I'm not hinting or advising that anyone do the same, just sharing a memory.  

It was, and sometimes still is, surprising to hear the strong opinions of those who disagreed with this facet of our parenting, but it's something I have no regrets about, and I have no issue with the majority on this matter.  I was and am capable of believing in the unseen, and along that vein, my children received three gifts each Christmas, the same number as Jesus, the real reason for the season, and The Truth Grannie shared with me.  That I believed!  

Monday, October 13, 2014

Another Front Porch Meditation

in the Lord
Others, things
we hold
with open hands
That which
we grasp
we lose
What truly
sustains us?
Or who?
give temporary
joy and energy
soon enough
go away
What and
are we left with?
How sad
we regard
as the last
The Source 
of our breath
and each heartbeat
oxygen and life
to every cell
sight to awe
at His creation
We are made
to rejoice
and be happy
fully satisfied
in Him
but we long
for what 
goes away
God in heaven
help us

Matthew 6:33New International Version (NIV)

But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well.

Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Then and Now

(written on September 30, 2014)

On the anniversary of the eve of my first son's birth, I recall a startling truth I chose not to absorb at that time:  Two women, one of them my mother, the other an older co-worker from the bank where I was previously employed, stood at the foot of my bed on the maternity floor, looked at each other and solemnly spoke of how quickly children grow up.  I see them clearly, but 27 years gone by have made the one who spoke and the one who agreed interchangeable in my memory.  Their message is ever present at this phase of my life--they uttered the truest thing ever spoken about children.  

Earlier today I was puttering on the front porch and in the front yard, washing bird feeders and watering plants, and though it's been close to six years since I have had any heavy responsibilities for a person other than myself, another truth still startles me:  I. can. take. my. time.  There wasn't a reason in this world to rush because it would be hours before the next thing was expected of me, cooking dinner, and even that is not an expectation--if I asked my husband to pick up dinner, he would gladly.  

 My older son married a good cook and he often proudly tells us what's for dinner at their townhouse in Denver, Colorado.  In an unusual turnabout in sibling adventures, it was my younger son who led the way, first answering the call to go west, young man.  Shortly after he moved away, someone not known for thinking before speaking said, "He may never come back,"  then laughed heartily.  It hurt.  Thoughts ran through my mind like 'what a bitch,' and 'how mean' then the realization of what goes around, comes around reminded me it already had.  The speaker has yet to be assured of the competent and complete independence of her long grown adult children.

My sons, as of tomorrow and the 29th of November, will be 27 and 24.  Those ages jump out at me as I was 24 and 27 when I gave birth to them.  In a whirlwind, they were grown and gone to seek their fortune, and I found myself in a phase of life which feels remarkably similar to how I felt after high school graduation--not knowing what is ahead, realizing the potential for adventure is immense, only now there is that urgency of fewer potential years ahead contrasted with then.  

Confusing things is the fact there is nothing urgently needing to be done at the moment.  Anxiousness about that in our human doing, as opposed to human being, culture is tempting, but I plod along, learning to yield to the sacrament of the present God-given moment, and the Lord has seen fit to give me a long season of rest after a two decade season of the exhausting sandwich generation, heavy responsibilities for generations before and after, 

There is still that jet lag of the mind to contend with, and acclimating myself to the present reality is a journey very unlike the long, straight roads of my roots, the coastal plains of Georgia, and more like the scary hairpin turns of an ascending road of a Rocky mountain my elder son drove up in August, entirely too fast for my comfort!  I was a mere 45 when I was no longer responsible for a minor child and six years later at 51, the evolution to adult friendship and adviser-as-needed-never-unasked-for is still, well, evolving.  

Here, to this point, I have meandered.  I am blown away with pride and joy these boys are in fact men who have stepped up to the plate of life, grabbed every opportunity they could, and set out on an adventure when all too many play it safe, biding time in uneventful existences.  As much as I enjoyed the time they were safely under my wings in my nest, I am delighted to see how well they have flown, in fact, so far, knock wood, neither have boomeranged to the nest from which they launched, a good thing as their bedrooms have been converted to an office/craft room and a library/guest bedroom.  I vowed I would never sit among Legos and K'nex and cry for what was.  I've cried all right, but not in a shrine to what will never again be.

Still, I am fiercely protective of what, for 18 years apiece, I thought was mine, and when someone was trying to give an opinion on the career of one of my sons, I heard myself say, "Back off!"  I felt (and feel) a little bad about the abrupt delivery, but I backpedal not one inch on my sentiment:  The boy is a man, an autonomous being who does not need the insult of a helicopter parent.  He can make his own decisions, and whether they are the absolute best or not, they are a) his to make and b) thrive on or c) learn from.  

That was a moment of opening my mouth and my mother coming out.  I haven't yet met another soul who valued independence as much as she, and she lived without hypocrisy the virtue of not meddling in my life as an adult.  My opinion seems not to be blurred or skewed as my husband affirms gratefully what I have said.  She likely knew she trained me all too well and I would have told her to step back over a line had she crossed one anyway.

It is my turn to give this grace and freedom to my sons.  It is not a one-time and-done gift; it has taken the rehearsal of the half-decade plus of not being a parent of a minor to keep on giving.  I speak as if I had a choice.  I would not and did not try to discourage my sons from following dreams that led them over 1,600 miles from their childhood home.  I am humbled when I think of two dear friends whose children are entering the Army and Navy respectively.  Talk about relinquishment.  Relinquishment implies ownership, though, and that is never the case with our children; we are stewards and only for a few brief years.  

In any case, as I type out words to cement in my mind what is real and now, I think of the labor I went through to bring my first child into the world and I thank God that I don't have to do that again tomorrow!  As it hurt when each of my sons launched from my womb to my arms, it hurt when they launched from their childhood home into the world, but in both instances, the joy of watching their development brings an unending source of pride in their accomplishments, and now I in mine.  There are two handsome, hard-working, adventurous young men in this world I am privileged to hear call me 'Mom'--without all the responsibilities that title once entailed.             

Thursday, September 4, 2014

At Home In My Heart

It was my intention this afternoon to sit down and begin reading a series written twenty years ago when I was too busy to read hardly anything beyond the scriptures from which I drew strength, needed strength.

Laugh if you will at AHIM, At Home in Mitford, but with the publication of the twentieth anniversary edition at a time in my life where I have more of that than anything else in the world, I was finally going to reside for a season in a sweet little town.  

A couple of memories I would have preferred to remain unjogged came tumbling out as I read the first few pages.  

At AHIM's first printing, I and my children were out of our element, parent helper and students at a parochial school.  As far as the Catholic church views children, no one is to be turned away, an admirable Christian stance, but for some parents, it was a non-public school haven in which to turn their noses up at those thought beneath them.  

The Mitford series was recommended to me by one such woman.  She often put forth an image of herself as squeaky clean and wholesome, and if one has to sell their own self in that manner, questions should arise, but I took her at face value though her accompanying snottiness wasn't as veiled as she deluded herself.  

She waited for her kids in a pick-up line with, on any given day, the cars of the affluent, a Mercedes, a Jaguar, a Range Rover, a convertible the driver might have looked good in twenty years prior, and my old Buick, the one which created a smoke cloud when cranked and once had to be pushed out of the way in the direction of the convent.  One of my sons steered while my push yielded not an inch, then an airman from Moody Air Force Base helped me out of my humiliating circumstance.

Maybe I wasn't, but my kids were every bit as good as theirs.  It wasn't about me then.  I brought two beautiful and precociously intelligent little boys into this world, and I intended they'd have the best I could humanly attain for them.  

Uniforms or no uniforms, it wasn't long before it was established who was who, who lived where, and whose father did what.  My kids' father drove them to school in an old beat up truck we called BOB, bucket of bolts.  From the other side of the county where all the right people in the right neighborhoods lived, from the back of a field where chickens were once raised, two uniform clad little guys were brought to town, dropped among the children of the town's elite, and because they didn't know any better, they had the gall to outshine almost all of them academically.

I don't even remember how I came to be president of the Home and School Association, I do know I didn't volunteer for it, but as such, I was to help host a Christmas party for the teachers.  The AHIM recommending mom held the affair at her home, her kitchen and living area easily the size of my entire home.  Perhaps she feared a social humiliation along the lines of the Buick in the pick-up line, so she pulled me aside and told me she had plenty of silver and crystal trays on which to put whatever snack food I would bring.  

The.  Memory.  Still.  Stings.  

Condescension brings out the best in me.  As a child, I had so much going against me, and I'm so over it all I'll not recollect it here, but I'd wager almost all I have, except my dignity, that this woman's mother hadn't taken the time to teach her Latin prefixes and suffixes in order to better decipher the English language.  She sure as hell didn't have a mother who rattled off the letters of her nursing title to a doctor who used his alphabet to try to play the preferential treatment card in the emergency room, a mother who held a kindly farmer she knew in the same esteem as the administrator of the nursing homes where she spent the most years of her nursing career.    

My mother and I weren't remotely the best of friends, but one thing she modeled to me was to hold my head high in every circumstance, especially ones where someone tried to belittle me.  

With my head held high, and clothed entirely unlike everyone else wearing black to a Christmas party, I walked in with a crock pot full of Swedish meatballs and a vintage pink LuRay platter loaded with sausage balls made with Bisquick.  You should have seen how quickly those dishes were emptied, not by a mortified hostess to proper presentation, but by doctors and lawyers whose taste buds cared not whether the goodies originally rested on silver, crystal or cheap dinnerware from the 1940s.

At my humble home, I had pretty dishes on which I could have made a fancier presentation.  I didn't and don't have great wealth as the world regards it, but I had and have a love of beautiful dishes.  Those remained at home on the shelves where they are both displayed and taken down and used.  I was in the most liberated position of having not married a man on whose titled coattails I'd try to ride socially.  If I was cast into the role of idiot bumpkin, I'd play it well.  

The look on her face when I walked in was worth it.  The doctors and lawyers, like my man, were more interested in the contents of the platter and crock than the platter and crock themselves.  

I'll say it again, it was worth it.

Recently I stumbled across an essay by Jose Micard Teixeira entitled "I No Longer."  This passage spoke to me:   "I decided not to coexist anymore with pretense, hypocrisy, dishonesty and cheap praise. I do not tolerate selective erudition nor academic arrogance."

I'd been living it for decades, but someone put it into better words for me.  I'd long known I was just as good as and not one bit better than, but his artfully sequenced words resonated in a heart that bears a scar or two from trampling attempts of those who do not understand their worth or mine.  

I wish I could say that was the last time I'd encountered such condescension: it was not; it is not.  And that's OK.  Sometimes it seems my assignment on earth is to try to maintain my dignity while others' much sadder assignment is to try to take it away from me.  

To them I say without words again and again, 'You can't do it.'      

I won't lie, it may sting, but with my LuRay platter, my old crock pot, and my mother's genuinely confident example, I am well equipped to endure such insults.  I would like to say I'm completely impervious, but the sting does come from the heartbreak that one human would attempt such a thing on another.

Or as Mom used to say, "You can't see for lookin'."  

Wednesday, September 3, 2014


from their
flying sonnets
cotton dotted
pale blue
erasing clouds
on their way
to the destined
by the Lord.
What will they do?--
by distractions
false weights
burdens, worries
they were never
meant to carry?
They'll eat of
the smorgasbord
already laid out,
confidently peck
a warning
to any
who dare
on The Plan,
then soar!
hailing drafts
in full flight
and not worry
who will lead
the way
to tonight's
will be taken
according to strength
there is no shame
to be the ones
who must be
at the ends
of the vee
for when
they are
they will lead
be content
the strong link
and all
for the good
of the whole
never comprehending
or arrogance
in rank
concerned only
with doing
the will
of God.

Sunday, August 10, 2014

Manipulation, Confrontation, Deflection and Freedom


  [muh-nip-yuh-leyt]  Show IPA
verb (used with object), ma·nip·u·lat·ed, ma·nip·u·lat·ing.
to manage or influence skillfully, especially in an unfair manner: to manipulate people's feelings.
to handle, manage, or use, especially with skill, in some process of treatment or performance: tomanipulate a large tractor.
to adapt or change (accounts, figures, etc.) to suit one's purpose or advantage.


  [kuhn-fruhnt]  Show IPA
verb (used with object)
to face in hostility or defiance; oppose: The feuding factions confronted one another.
to present for acknowledgment, contradiction, etc.; set face to face: They confronted him withevidence of his crime.
to stand or come in front of; stand or meet facing: The two long-separated brothers confronted eachother speechlessly.
to be in one's way: the numerous obstacles that still confronted him.
to bring together for examination or comparison.

— vb
to turn or cause to turn aside from a course; swerve


  [free-duhm]  Show IPA
the state of being free or at liberty rather than in confinement or under physical restraint: He won hisfreedom after a retrial.
exemption from external controlinterference, regulation, etc.
the power to determine action without restraint.
political or national independence.
personal liberty, as opposed to bondage or slavery: a slave who bought his freedom.

Over seven months ago, I confronted someone about manipulation, specifically gossiping in a manner which resulted in alienation of affection of several relationships which were important to me.  I gave detailed instances--time, place, and persons involved.  

At first, there was denial.  I was told that was my perspective, with the blatant implication it was skewed.  Then there was an apology.  Apologies are weak and lame without behavioral changes to back them up.  When the rubber met the road--I wanted this person and myself to meet with another party tainted in careless talking--the one who apologized suddenly vanished from the negotiation table.  Complete, utter, silent disappearance from communication.

Cue Cyndi Lauper, I saw true colors.  

Before the incriminating disappearance, an attempt was made to take the position of upper hand:  I was accused of being angry.  The offender was not angry, I was angered, thus I was in sin.  It was a manipulative deflection from a self-awarded position of righteousness. 
Of course I was angry.  Relationship after relationship was being meddled with.      

Bishop T.D. Jakes, of whom I have the utmost respect, wrote:
  • Forgiveness is not overlooking, ignoring, or denying a hurt or an offense, and it does not require your anger to disappear.

People, anger serves the purpose of letting you and others know you have been violated.  It is a legitimate emotion.  When handled improperly, it leads to trouble, but feeling it in response to a violation--don't let anyone condemn you for a marker the Lord gave to sit up and realize something is very wrong.  A manipulator will absolutely try to take that power from you, anything to shut you up and take the heat off them.   

More from Bishop Jakes:

  • Forgiveness is not excusing damaging or wrong behavior.
  • Forgiveness does not rob you of personal power or exonerate the person who hurt you.
             The person I confronted spoke of tears and how hurt they were--that they'd been confronted!  If anyone in your life doles out relational abuse, deems themselves not responsible, then judges you for a legitimate reaction to their behavior, there's a serious, diabolical problem.  You have every right to separate yourself from this person until the behavior has been rectified.     

  • Forgiveness does not trivialize your trauma or lessen the pain you have experienced.
  • Forgiveness is not forgetting the hurtful or harmful things people have done or pretending those things never happened.
  • Forgiveness does not mean you should restore trust in someone who hurt you or that you should have an ongoing relationship with that person.
This is where well-meaning Christians miss the mark, pushing people back to accepting relationship from abusers without requiring the abuser to show, take or have any responsibility for reforming their behavior.  It is ridiculous when one thinks about it in light of relationship with Christ.  After professing belief in Jesus and His main mission on earth, dying in atonement for our sins, there is the necessary acknowledgement of one's personal sin and repenting of it.

When someone places their behavior, their very being, above this, there is a name for them, a manipulator.  See highlighted portions above.  There are vast differences between forgiveness, restoration and reconciliation. Forgiveness is always in order for the Christian.  Always.  Restoration and reconciliation are dependent upon the actions of the other party.
So do you forgive a manipulator?  Of course.  Unequivocally yes.  To forgive means to release them into God's competent Hands, to not seek revenge, to allow God to deal with the person in His timing and in the manner He chooses, acknowledging that vengeance is His, He is just, and He knows the hearts of all men.  

Since we do not know the hearts of all men, we use wisdom to search for what the Bible calls fruit.  Essentially, what are the results of their life?    

If there is no demonstration of remorse or attempts to mend damage, nothing to evidence the person is sorry for the behavior or intends to do better, it'd be, well I hate to say stupid, but stupid it would be to re-invest yourself in someone who will surely continue to disrupt your life given the chance.  Apologies spoken to hastily end conversation, to restore one to the position of power to abuse, ring hollow.  That is also manipulation.  Listen for the echo--no change of behavior.  

Do you have to re-enter relationship with a manipulator?  No.

Must you forgive?  Yes, yes, a thousand times yes.  


Also from Bishop Jakes, forgiveness...

  • liberates you from your past and sets you free to embrace your future
  • unburdens you soul of agonies that could infect every area of your life for the rest of your life
  • relieves that emotional ache you cannot seem to escape, the one that holds you back when you try to move forward and weighs you down when you try to rise up
  • takes a realistic assessment of the damage done to your soul, accepts that, and takes deliberate steps toward healing
  • will release you to a new level of purpose, vision, creativity, vitality, intimacy with others, and success in every area of your life
  • is essential if you are going to grow into the fullness of the person God created you to be--and it is indispensable to fulfilling your destiny
  • is one of the best gifts you can ever give yourself
And even more wisdom from Bishop Jakes:  "Most of the time, people who will disregard and devalue you to the point of committing a serious wrong against you or hurting you deeply do not care enough about you to apologize."  
Trust is to be given wisely, cautiously, and when broken, the onus is upon the offending party to earn it back.  Words alone don't cut it, though a declaration of intention is good if it is followed through with action to back it.  The Bible commands us to forgive, to release the offender and the offenses to God.  There are no passages commanding trust in man. Forgive, yes.  Love, yes.  And in cases of continuing abuse, that can be adequately done from a healthy distance called a boundary.

Pray a prayer of release for yourself and for the offender.  Say their name, releasing them and their deeds to the Lord.  Say it as many times as is necessary.  Bless your enemy.  Pray for their needs to be met, for the Lord to forgive them, for they surely don't realize the magnitude of what they've done.  Praying for someone softens your heart toward them so that bitterness does not flourish there.  If it has, repent of that, ask the Lord to cleanse you of it, and believe that He will do it.  Don't accept condemning thoughts from the father of lies, satan, and don't accept condemnation from a person who will not change abusive behavior toward you.
Walk in the light and love of the Lord.  Walk freely!  You were never meant to be imprisoned by another's actions on this earth, and refusing to forgive holds you prisoner in your own heart. Free the offender!  Free yourself!

Do realize that where there is not reconciliation, others may deem you to be unforgiving.  Let them have their thoughts.  You do not have to defend your right to free yourself from emotional, spiritual, physical or any other kind of abuse.  This is between you, God, and a person who may or may not wish to be in relationship with you.  

Trust that the Lord will show you when/if the time is right for restoration and reconciliation.   

Then keep walking.     

Friday, August 8, 2014

Hearty Potato & Sausage Chowder

Hearty Potato & Sausage Chowder

1/4 cup butter or margarine
1 ½ cups (1 large) thinly sliced onion
3 Tblsp all purpose flour
3 cups (3 medium) cubed 3/4-inch potatoes
4 cups milk
1 teaspoon salt
1/4 tsp pepper
2 cups (8 oz.) shredded Cheddar 
8 ounces (2 medium) cooked Polish sausages, cut into 1/4 inch slices

In 3-quart saucepan melt butter.  Stir in onion; cook over medium heat until tender (4 - 5 minutes).  Stir in flour until smooth and bubbly (1 minute).  Stir in potatoes, milk, salt and pepper.  Cover; continue cooking, stirring occasionally, until potatoes are fork tender (25 - 30 minutes).  Stir in cheese and sausage.  Continue cooking, stirring occasionally, until cheese is melted and sausage is heated through, (2 - 3 minutes).

That’s the recipe from Land O Lakes Treasury of Country Heritage Meals and Menus.

Now here’s how I cook it.  I mix together the flour, salt and pepper and put it in where the flour is called for, similar to making gravy.  This business about stirring occasionally does not work!  Stir frequently, I use a wooden spatula to get all the way to the bottom, or you’ll have potatoes stuck on the pot that’ll take two days to soak off!  Whatever you do, don’t let this scorch.  It will ruin the taste.  Ask me how I know that.  I use red potatoes because they don’t cook to mush, however if you’d like the potatoes to be extra soft, you could use a baking type potato.  With the leftovers, add a little milk when you warm it; it stretches the soup, and to my palate always seems to need it anyway.