Most Sundays since I moved out of my childhood home, I go over for family dinner.
My mom usually cooks the entire meal — from entree to dessert — and we bring over side dishes like poke, butter rolls or wine.
Sometimes I’ll go over and help my mom prepare for dinner. That was the case last night.
Earlier that day, she had made English muffins from scratch. (Yes, for fun.) And with that, we were going to have eggs Benedict for dinner, sometimes my entire family — surprisingly — had never had before.
The goal was to make Hollandaise sauce, one of the five so-called mother sauces of classic cuisine. (The others are béchamel, velouté, espagnole and classic tomato.) I decided I wanted to master these sauces, so we started with Hollandaise.
There’s nothing overly difficult about making Hollandaise sauce. It calls for egg yolks, butter, cayenne pepper, salt and lemon juice. The eggs have to be heated using a double boiler and the butter, which we melted, was then slowly added to the beaten yolks. The trick is to keep stirring and not to let the sauce separate. It was simple enough. Just stir — and don’t stop.
It was an interesting experience last night, as I stood over the double boiler and continuously whisked the egg yolks. My brother was helping, adding lemon juice and a dash of cayenne pepper, and I caught myself saying to him the things my mom would say to me. “Add a little salt at a time. You can always add salt later.” Or “You can use paprika on the top, too. It’s just a smell.”
I’m turning into my mom.
Which isn’t a bad thing. My mom is kind, practical, good-natured, long-suffering and a master in the kitchen. She would work a full-time job, come home and manage to prepare a full-on dinner — sometimes with freshly baked bread or pasta she had made earlier that week — and dessert. Every night. She’s like a culinary super hero.
I wondered, on the long drive home, whether it’s inevitable we become versions of our parents. We say what they say, do what they do, act how they act. Is this coded in our genes or something we just learn by osmosis, by spending a lot of time with them during our formidable — and impressionable — years?
I always thought I had the worst traits of my parents. The quick temper, the tendency to overeat, the rigid way I can sometimes view the world, the high standards for myself, the self-depracation, the inability to say no and eat a lot of dairy products at once, the penchant for to-do lists and color-coded calendars.
But in my, ahem, later years, I’m starting to realize that I can cultivate the better traits they have, the ones that might be hard-coded in DNA. I can be practical like my mom, ideal like my dad — and enjoy every morsel of food like both of them.
It’s like with anything, I supposed. You can admire people for their character and set of values — and you can choose to adopt those, too. I have a friend who is savvy about setting boundaries (and saying no) and another who’s organized and structured. I don’t share DNA with them, but I can certainly learn a thing or two.
So turning in my parents may be such a bad thing.
Unless I start dressing like them. Then stop me immediately.
Sorry for the delay in blogging. I had some technical difficulties with the site. All fixed now, though! Thanks for your patience!
Cat: You have nothing to worry about in terms of dressing like your parents. You’re a female and can get away with it. Unless there is something really odd and/or dated about your parents attire, you could dress like either one of them. We males can only dress like our fathers. After all, could you imagine your hubby suddenly wearing a muumuu? I think not. 😆
In terms of turning into our parents, I think it’s a combo of both DNA/genetics, as well as, growing up in the household. You learn, as a child growing up, from those around you and those that raised you, whether they’re your parents, grandparents, or other people.
I take after my dad, he’s a retired mechanic and I started as a mechanic and now manage a fleet maintenance shop. My dad is a jack of all trades too and so I’m I. We can do plumbing, electrical, carpentry, masonary, fix and repair almost anything and of coarse fixing cars.
CAT: Yes, we all do in a sense. I find myself telling my kids the same things my parents told me. Sometimes I catch myself and find I sound like my parents. I believe that if we come from a nurturing and loving family, we cannot help but duplicate this when we get older…it is the stuff of making our civilization and society sustain itself. Hopefully, with each succeeding generation, we, as a culture, civilization, society, etc. we improve upon our ancestors as we work toward perfection in mankind. Once man achieves perfection, there is no need for life….but not in our life time.
First it was when you started to be called aunty/uncle
then you start to notice that you’ve said or done things that your parents would say or do
finally when people treat you with respect even if you don’t know them just out of deference for the aged!
I’m currently in the middle of the middle phase. it sounds like you’re just starting this phase.
Good Luck! Believe me, it isn’t that bad.
Well since you once said your mother appreciated the stuff I write my hope is you develop the same excellent taste … LOL … OK, sorry ’bout that couldn’t resist.
It is nature and nurture, you can’t separate them. Your mom looks like a happy person so becoming like that would be a good thing. And a little idealism never hurt anyone. as for dressing like them… aren’t you the very same Cat that wore the same dress for two or three straight Cat Chats????
My dad is real hard headed and stubborn, when he makes up his mind that’s it, he won’t ever change. When he gets mad, he won’t talk about it at all and he’ll be mad for days. I’m glad I don’t have that traits.
I’m definitely turning into my dad, and it started when I began losing my hair like him. lol
Hey Cat … we don’t turn into our parents … we already start out as a copy of our parents, from the moment we are conceived … through nurturing, experience and education … we develop into who we are today … and we may be very similar to our parents … but we could also be very different …
… through constant exposure to our parents traits as we grow up … we are likely to develop the same traits because it is already in us … if it is positively reinforced, the development is stronger … but those traits that have been negatively received are likely to be repressed or even modified …
… *** ok that’s the end of my BS theory *** …
… haha, I don’t know why we turn into our parents … but I’m glad I’m a lot like my parents …
Cat! I started out as my Dad who believed as older Chinese men that using the stick was the best discipline for children. I decided not to follow his methods of discipline and tried to use love and understanding which I hope will trickle down to my two boy in the future. This article hits home!
I don’t know about “turning into” our parents, but it’s hard not to adopt or learn some of the ways, habits, and beliefs of the people with whom we spend so much of our formative years. And that’s why being a parent is one’s most important job in life, I think. It’s the greatest influence most of us will ever have, for better or worse!
Sorry, have to edit.
You even look like your mom. 🙂
I’ve heard that if you want to know what a girl will look like in the future look at her mother. I think that is so true as your picture shows that you look just like your mom. As far as saying stuff like them and sounding like them it is inevitable as their thoughts and values are subconsciuosly instilled into your psyche.
yes, we (think moreso for women) turn into our parents. growing up i swore up and down i wouldn’t become my mom because she was a wicked tyrant (isn’t every mom to a teenager?). 20 years later, i’m wishing i were more like her. now that i have a family of my own, i fully appreciate all she did for us back then. i can see a lot of personality stuff is just like her, but not so much the homemaker traits 🙁