3ppm of Garlic

Had a disastrous trip to visit my parents today. For some reason I mixed-up the dates for this family reunion that my mother doesn’t want to hold. Apparently she doesn’t get along with anyone on my father’s side, although I think she secretly lives for this kind of thing. She can be in control, and she gets to showcase her house and her perfect little microcosm.
In any case, as soon as I show up, it’s like reliving my whole childhood in the span of 30 seconds: All the negative scrutiny of my youth resurfaces suddenly, and I get hit with a barrage of comments such as "I can’t believe your beard is blue," "your hair is way too short," "why is there another hole in your ear," "I smell garlic on your breath (?)," "why can’t you wear a nice shirt," etc. etc. I swear, my mother can detect less than 3ppm of garlic in a human body. It can be three days after eating a garlicky meal, and my mom will call me up and tell me she can smell it over the phone.
My mother’s an interesting person. She’s notoriously closed-minded, although I can get her to contradict herself through mere conversation. She’s becoming increasingly more X-tian, although no one can say why, especially since there was no real attempt to bring religion into our family when I was young (I secretly suspect my father had something to do with this). She doesn’t believe in evolution (not uncommon, especially in the United States) yet cannot readily define evolution or say why she doesn’t believe it, except to say (wrongly) that it goes against her religion.
We came to an uneasy resolution after fighting for a little while, with my dad playing referee, as he so often does. This time, I’m actually worried about her, that it’s not simple petty bickering which is causing so many problems, but some kind of deep-seated depression or anxiety which is causing all this … this chaos inside her. I freely admit my problem: that she sets the standard to which I must measure up. I can never be the perfect son for her, and anything I do seems to be a deliberate act of aggression against her.
If only I can get her to uncover her problem.