Becoming Our Parents
In a new television commercial, a series of adult men and women lament that they are turning into their parents.
The examples they cite relate to frugality (“Why is the door open? Are we trying to air condition the whole neighborhood?”) and to being behind the times (“I find myself texting in whole sentences”).
I don’t relate directly to most of the examples in the commercial, but I still find myself becoming more like my parents each year. I look so much like my dad did in his 50s and 60s (though he was a lot thinner and not quite as bald), I use some of his Deep South expressions (“I’m waiting on you,” rather than “waiting for you”) and I sometimes adopt the sarcastic undertone my mother might convey when you didn’t agree with her. Audrey has developed the same tendency that her mother had to worry about things large or small. Our kids know the importance of texting as soon as they arrive some place whenever they travel either a short or long distance. She is on “pins and needles” until the text arrives.
It seems inevitable that we just can’t escape the hold our parents have on us even after they are no longer physically in our lives. For Audrey and me, cooking, especially for holidays, is one definite way that we imitate our parents. And I don’t think we’re unique.
How do I know? For Exhibit 1, just look at the meal Audrey and I put together last Sunday when our kids joined us for Mother’s Day.
Here was the "historically-correct" menu:
1) Barbecued short ribs marinated in the special sauce my mother used to concoct (a mixture of sautéed onions, ketchup, chili sauce, Heinz 57 sauce, spicy mustard, and just a touch of sugar—with none of the ingredients actually measured, just added “to taste”); parboiled to remove most of the fat and assure quicker cooking on the grill; and then grilled as my father would do them so they were moist but still properly charred. Since I gave up eating red meat or chicken more than 10 years ago, these ribs were recreated from memory, not from taste. But they were well received by the rest of the family—and admired longingly but forlornly for by our dog.
|Brett and Amanda and the famous muerbeteig.|
So, this Mother’s Day, we became our parents and grandparents, if only for a little while and mostly at the stove and dinner table. I am wondering just how our children will become us in the future.