It took me 17 years to realize that my mother is a horrible cook.  You ‘re used to what you’re raised with, right? It’s your baseline.  I never quite realized how bad my mother’s food was until I was old enough to try a lot of other things on my own.

It’s not just that my mother is inherently a bad cook- that’s not it at all. It’s that she refuses to follow recipes.  This is how my mother operates:  find some very promising recipe and butcher it, look vaguely at the ingredients, directions, and proportions, then toss it aside and proceed on her own. ¼ cup flower? Let’s use 2. Heat to 350 degrees? Hmm, looks like it could handle 475. Cook for 30 minutes? What’s a timer? One hour later we would have a splendid culinary disaster.

In a lot of ways, I see myself as different from my mother—imagine a muffin pan. Her disposition is the pan, and I am the blueberry muffin mix that fills in the mold. Filled in exact opposite positions.

For example, my mom runs on island time; she has never been early for an important event in her life; I arrive 10 minutes ahead for work every day. My mom is known for being vague in instruction and commitment; I,to my own annoyance, am not capable of functioning without set deadlines and solid facts. The largest of these differences is that while I am a planner, she is a dreamer- and admittedly, dreaming has gotten her far. She had dreams of moving to America, becoming a US citizen, and owning her own business. While these dreams have served her well, what her head-in-the-clouds mentality misses sometimes, are the small steps it takes to achieve big dreams. That’s where I come in, having trouble believing in anything larger than what I can see as possible.

All these examples are why It was the largest shock to me, one day, when I realized that my mother and I are not always opposites. While mom may sometimes be ridiculously impulsive, so can I. Her impulse may be something like deciding to buy the whole family iPhones. Mine may be to skip class, get off at a random bus stop and explore the city.

Maybe in less obvious ways, I am a lot more like my mother than I thought. Maybe, I’m realizing, we are not opposites, but complements? Quite possibly there are merits to being raised with bad cooking… Like that I have the capability to, unlike some friends, stray from the recipe, add a pinch of this, a pinch of that, and creating something  amazing.

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