Julie’s birthday was last weekend, and I made her a chocolate avocado cake as part of the avocado potluck birthday party. Since Julie had also received a chocolate cake from her mom, I kept the leftovers of my cake at home and ate it over the next weekend, and I finished it for breakfast this morning*.
I haven’t done it for awhile, but I am very familiar with eating cake for breakfast. My earliest recollections of breakfast are Flintstones yellow cakes with with way too much frosting. Since then, breakfast for me has included all types of cereal, waffles, waffles with a pile of ice cream on it, ramen, steak, sausage, fried rice, hot pockets, buttered toast, toast with a layer of brown sugar on it, bagels, pasta, yogurt, and anything else you would have found from my fridge, pantry, or last night’s dinner. Thankfully, my breakfast has evened out to oatmeal on an average of just under 5 days a week. I’m surprised that a mother-endorsed diet of ice cream for breakfast led to a pretty healthy outcome.
I’m not really sure if this was her intent, but my mom’s genius in allowing me to eat this way is that I always eat breakfast. Long after many of my friends stopped eating breakfast during high school or college, I will always arrange for something to eat shortly after waking up. Popular nutrition says that eating breakfast is very important, and though their advice probably wouldn’t include ice cream, it seems I ended up in the right place.
I maybe didn’t eat ice cream for breakfast as often as I’m suggesting here. I actually mostly ate leftovers, which I still happily eat for all meals. I had always assumed that this was another food preference I may have inherited or been stuck with because of the rest of my family. For example, my grandpa doesn’t like garlic, so my mom didn’t make stirfrys with garlic, so I don’t either. My sister Lisa didn’t like eggs in fried rice, so I didn’t discover it until college. And my mom doesn’t like green bean casserole, so it never appeared on our Thanksgiving dinner table. Given that I did eat leftovers often, I assumed our family was a leftover loving family.
I was understandably shocked, then, when my mom revealed to me over dinner 2 weeks ago that she didn’t like leftovers. When I pointed out that I had eaten lots of leftovers growing up, she looked up from her bowl of chow mein straight at me and said with complete sincerity, “Yeah, you ate the leftovers.” In the ensuing conversation, it started to make sense. My mom really did cook 7 days a week when I was growing up, and the only leftovers I actually can remember her eating was ground pork and tofu with rice and turkey sandwiches. Everything else in the fridge was mine.
I was a little miffed to find out that my mom was using me as a garbage can. I had grown up assuming that I was the beneficiary of all food choices. The classic example is that when we had chicken, my mom would let us have the meat while she would gnaw at the bones, and when my grandparents were there, my mom would pass those bones onto them and enjoy more of the meat herself. That was just a good parent-child relationship.
Now, all of my mom’s parenting choices appear to have worked out, though some weren’t perhaps as thoughtful and selfless as I may have once believed. Apparently, a common misperception that first-time parents have is that they have brought into the world a beautiful, perfect child, and unless they do everything just right for their child, life is just going to chip away at that innocence and potential. Clearly, my parents lost that notion by the time they had me, the last of three children, but it seems like they might have gotten things right, at least on a few of these points.
And now that I have grown up and see my own friends having kids, I’m starting to see that parents aren’t all-knowing. They’re people just like me, with their own foibles and needs, so many parenting choices aren’t made strictly for the benefit of their children. But it’s okay: a few of those maybe thoughtless choices led to me eating my oatmeal for breakfast while amused about having once, long ago, eaten ice cream for breakfast for an entire week.
* Not really this morning. The perspective works better from when I came up with this post in my head on my bike ride last Thursday