By Cassie Johnston
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My Mom is awesome. And I know everyone says that, but my Mom is really awesome. For example, as a lot of 22-year-olds do, I moved back home after college when I started my first job.
I was jazzed to have employment (in my chosen field, even), but I was barely making enough money to scrape together the cash for the gas it required for me to commute—let alone actually afford my own place. So I moved back into my parents’ place and used it as a halfway house to help me transition into the real world.
My parents have always been about fostering independence, so when I moved back into the nest, they asked me to help around the house—both financially and with normal chores. It wasn’t the same situation as it was when I lived there just a few years prior during high school. I was now an adult, and even though we were living under the same roof just like when I was 14, it was important to both me and my parents that our relationship transitioned to an adult relationship. I did my own laundry. I paid my own bills. I got my own oil changed.
That paid-absolutely-nothing job turned out to be a complete dud. I worked there for 10 months, and it was honestly one of the hardest times of my life. I was unhappy in my job—it’s crazy how a toxic workplace can infect your entire life. My then-boyfriend, now-husband, was living in another country. I was commuting up to two hours a day—sobbing in the car everyday. All my friends were spread across the country post-college. Oh, and did I mention I wasn’t getting paid enough to do…well…anything? It was just a really joyless time in my life.
Now that I’m a mother, I can see how difficult that must have been for my nurturing, supportive, and empathetic Mama. To see me come in the door each evening, totally defeated, and stay supportive, but also allow me to struggle through it in my own way.
There are a lot of difficult things in parenthood (a lot), but I think that the most difficult is letting your kid struggle. I believe it’s important to struggle. It builds character, and it (eventually) builds confidence. But man, is it heart-wrenching to watch your kid struggle. Your first instinct is to fix it. And fix it NOW. But that’s not always the best thing for them. That’s true for my two-year-old, and was certainly true when I was 22-years-old.
When I came downstairs each workday, dreading the drive to a job I loathed, what I wanted my Mom to do was say, “Just quit! We’ll take care of you until you find something else.” But she didn’t. Instead, she gave me hug and handed me a mug of hot coffee and a breakfast sandwich and told me she loved me and then shuttled me out the door. Every single weekday morning for 10 months.
Yes, I realize it isn’t very adult for your Mommy to make you breakfast every morning—but I think she knew I was at my limit. It was taking all my effort just to make it through the day. Taking five minutes to make me a bacon and egg sandwich that I could eat while I was stuck in traffic was her way of making sure I survived the struggle. She didn’t give me a life boat, but she did toss me a life jacket. And it meant everything to me.
Every time I make an egg sandwich, I think of my Mama. Which is a lot, because, well, I love egg sandwiches (and my Mama). I eventually made it through that dark time. I got a better job in a different city (and moved out of my parents’ house). My Canadian import moved in with me. I started making enough money to actually be able to afford things. I made new friends.
Even though it was rough, I’m really glad my parents let me struggle through that time in my life. I learned a lot about myself, my character, and my strength. And I learned a lot about how to be an amazing parent.
This Huevos Rancheros Breakfast Sandwich is decidedly not what I would hand to my kid to eat in the car during her commute to her first job. Delicious? Yes. Healthy? Yes. Super messy? Yes. Yes. Yes.
There really are two kinds of breakfast sandwiches in life—the kind that are meant to be a hand-held breakfast, and the kind that are meant to be savored with a fork on a Sunday morning. These babies are the latter. These are gooey, drippy, and everything that is good in life.
I put this sandwich on my favorite bread of all time—Dave’s Killer Bread White Bread Done Right. September is Whole Grains Month, and there isn’t a better time (or a better bread) to help you transition to whole grains. White Bread Done Right is like if you took your favorite white bread and magically made it whole grain! It’s light, fluffy, soft, and mild-flavored. It’s organic, non-GMO, and has 10 grams of whole grains per serving. It’s like a bread dream come true.
Classic Huevos Rancheros is nothing much more than really good salsa and perfectly cooked runny eggs over tortillas. You cut into the egg yolks and they mix with the salsa to make a silky, yummy sauce that is crazy good.
My breakfast sandwich version uses a freshly made spicy black bean salsa and guacamole to add classic Huevos Rancheros flavor. I still use runny fried eggs in my sandwich—because yum—but if you’re looking to go a little less messy, you can poke the yolk and cook it and still get delicious results.
If you don’t want to spend the time to make your own fresh salsa, many grocery stores sell freshly made pico de gallo in their product section—it’ll work beautifully. Enjoy!
This Huevos Rancheros Breakfast Sandwich is gooey, drippy, breakfast perfection. Serve one up this weekend!
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Your story really struck a cord with me and I forwarded the post to my own Mama, as it really brought into words what I’ve been trying to say to her. Well she called me up in tears and we had a heart-to-heart talk about our mutual struggles. I really feel we are closer now. And thank you for the recipe too!
Awww, this made my day! :)
Your parents should be mentors for young parents! Love them!!!
Great story! I just lost my Mother in April (she was almost 85) – I had moved her in to live with me 5 years ago. It was an eye-opening experience and a wonderful way to discover more about myself. As an adult I could understand better how I became the person I am today. So many times she would do something that would make me say – “that is where I got that from” or “now I understand where I got my fear of snakes” etc. Mothers, I believe, are the most influential people in our lives. You might not always agree with them – but they do shape your character!!
I’m so sorry for your loss! But I’m so happy you were able to have such a powerful time with her before she was gone. Many folks don’t get that opportunity!
I, too, have worked in a couple of toxic places, at one point I would drive home saying to myself, I love my job, I love my job and it would actually make me feel better. My last employer hit me on the arm and then was hugging me. Well, no more of that. Better days ahead.
Life gets better, you move on and family support is really helpful.
Thanks for sharing, Cassie..
I think the roller coaster boss is SO much worse than just a bad boss. You have no idea what to expect when you walk in the door each day—and that’s so exhausting! I’m so glad you moved on. :)
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