Dippy Eggs and Love

Dippy Eggs and Love

I’d watch his back as he stood at the stove. The gas lit under multiple pots and pans as the smell of bacon wafted through the airy kitchen. Breakfast for dinner ranked high on my list of favorite dinners throughout my childhood.

The black and white television that sat on the corner of the counter tuned to the evening news with my dad doing his own color commentary on life in the 90s, I learned a lot about politics, the economy, and local life in Western Pennsylvania. Why we had a black and white television the size of a lunch box in our kitchen in the 1990s, I don’t know, but we did. It is a part of my childhood as much as breakfast for dinner, Madonna Vogueing on MTV, and softball in scratchy polyester shirts.

Making breakfast for dinner requires a lot of planning or, more likely, flying by the seat of your pants. Nothing is ever done at the same time. The toast pops too early. The potatoes are still too hard. The bacon begins to burn, though I never minded that much because crispy, nearly burnt bacon is actually the definition of perfection.

And then there’s the problem of the eggs.

I remember my utter dismay every time my dad would say, “I’m sorry, I let the yolks get too hard.”

You let the yolks get too hard? Let them? Do you mean that I am your least favorite child and that this is how you are showing me how much you hate me? Hard yolks? Are you kidding me? I ate them, of course, because I grew up on a farm next to my Polish grandmother and, good grief, you ate what you were served, so help her God.

We were a dippy egg family. Yolks were meant to be pushed on with the edge of your toast, the insides oozing out all over the plate, finding nooks and crannies between hard potatoes and bacon, slipping under the egg and layering itself upon everything. Dippy eggs, which I didn’t know the rest of the world didn’t call dippy until I was in college, were safe, a comfort food of soft, yellow home.

Hard yolks didn’t feel soft or safe or anything like home. I would ponder what I did that day to deserve such a fate as the hard yolk. Did I neglect to clean my room? Was I a little bit mouthy? Was I a lot mouthy? At ten or fifteen or twenty-one, love felt conditional and hardened yolks represented everything I had done wrong. I could not be loved fully; the egg said so.

I made breakfast for dinner the other night. We eat eggs and toast and potatoes and tomatoes for dinner a lot more these days as our five chickens give us, well, just about five eggs per day. I can only make so many things with eggs, give away so many dozens to neighbors, before I decide it’s another breakfast for dinner type night. It doesn’t hurt that it’s a quick meal.

The boys love breakfast for dinner, much as I did at their age. LittleBrother deeply loves making the toast right now, which brings back memories of standing in my grandparents’ kitchen, manning the toaster while my Papau fried the eggs in bacon grease on Christmas mornings. If there is joy in life, it is eggs fried in bacon grease. All the same, are are just fried up all boring like but the dippy part still brings these boys the same joy it brought me all those years ago.

Until the other night.

I accidentally fried the yolks too hard. There was no dip, let alone dippy.

This is the first time this has happened in their eight and ten years of life. As I set the plates down in front of them, spatula in my hand the same day my dad would cross the kitchen with the spatula in his, I saw the look of dejection that crossed my own face all those years ago mirrored in their faces.

No dippy? What’s the point of the egg? With what shall I cover my toast in? Is the world really flat?

I explained to them the fast-paced nuances of cooking eggs and potatoes and helping remind them to set out the forks and napkins and pouring the milk because it was a new gallon. They looked at me, poking at their eggs and eating potatoes, realizing—not for the first nor the last time—that their mother was fallible. That eggs aren’t always dippy. That maybe things aren’t always what they seem.

I finished cooking up my own eggs and joined them at the table. I took one hard-fried egg of theirs each, slipping a perfectly dippified egg of my own on to their plates, leaving them with one of each. The bright looks on their faces could have landed airplanes. This is motherhood; this is sacrifice. You can have my dippy egg, my non-burned-on-the-grill hot dog, my water bottle with your germy little mouth, my uterus, my whole heart, my everything.

There is joy in childhood, yes. It is in the soft center of a dippy egg. It is in knowing that your mom loves you so much that she will take the boring, hard-fried egg so you can have your favorite kind of egg. It is in sitting around the dinner table and talking about who you sat with at lunch and what you did at recess and what you’re grateful for that day. They were thankful for dippy eggs.

And so was I.

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