So, normally this is a writing-themed blog, however, since I am on vacation, so is my typical subject matter.
Tonight my sister-in-law and I made the (rather spontaneous) decision to cook a dinner of Chinese food, Canadian style, for the family. She rocked out the chicken chow mien, beef and broccoli, and my personal favorite, the hot and sour soup. I managed the szechuan green beans (if you have an issue with my spelling of szechuan take it up with Google) and the dumplings, as well as assisting with the rice, tea and various meat preparation tasks. All in all it was a great meal with a legendary amount of leftovers.
The reason I'm writing is not to tell you how awesome we are, though I could wax poetic on that topic for a while. While we were cooking, I noticed a paradigm shift taking place. We are currently staying with my in-laws, whom I have the good fortune to adore. When we began cooking, my lovely sister-in-law took it upon herself to banish her mother to the patio swing, promising she would seek her out if she had any questions regarding the location of the garlic grater. Minutes later, I followed suit with my grandmother in-law, who maintained she was just supervising. I succeeded in telling her this was not the case and she was to immediately go relax and allow us the chance to prove our worth in the kitchen.
The interesting thing was that it appeared very difficult for them to stay in the relaxation zone and allow the young (ha) ones to assert their culinary independence. Now that I have my own kitchen, I know the pain of relinquishing my space to someone who might get lost without a road map to my cupboard chaos. I can only imagine how these feelings may be multiplied by years of family dinner experience, Chinese cooking classes (it's true) and an overwhelming desire to nurture those who are only around for several weeks out of the year. Its interesting that something as simple as having dinner cooked for you can be an exercise in letting go; as well as in perspective, for those of us who are just beginning our foray into group cooking and entertaining.
Once you've had the joy of mothering three children, or becoming a grandmother and great-grandmother several times over you deserve a mammoth pile of respect. You know exactly when to time the rice, start the tea, boil the water, and who may or may not need an extra napkin at the table. You have years of dishwasher loading mojo on your side, and six different recipes for tiramisu, all of which turn out every single time. You've already achieved domestic-goddess-hood, mingled with career woman-dom, not to mention you've learned Facebook post empty nest. All these merit badges under your belt, and there is only one thing you find challenging: stepping back and allowing those you've successfully reared to show you what a great job you've done.
Why is it so hard for us to turn off that desire to suggest an alternate method, and allow someone to show us what we've taught them? Perhaps its the same reason that when I finish training someone at work, I still have the desire to coach them on anything they may choose to do differently (in my defense, I ignore this impulse as often as possible). Tonight was a lesson in letting go for two great moms, and a lesson in culinary timing for two eager daughters. I'm proud of us all for making it a spectacular evening all around.
We had a great dinner, and a great time together. Nobody got sent to the ER with food poisoning (yet), and my sister in law and I even carried our efforts into doing the dishes. To the casual onlooker, you never would have known what was boiling just beneath the surface. All this and a fortune cookie.