Top Chef Contestant Bucks Up–‘Cuz Mama Said

Author’s note:  This is a continuation of a series of blogs about the experience of watching my daughter, Chef Dakota Weiss,  make her way through Bravo TV’s Top Chef Texas, currently airing on Wednesday nights. 

When other little girls strutted down the sidewalk pushing play buggies with play babies, I veered off–riding my pretend horse. Chasing down pretend robbers on my fanciful golden steed trumped playing Mommy any day.

Even during those adolescent sleepovers when deep discussions about how many times you “had to do it” before you got pregnant, I swore that I’d pass on “doing it” if it involved having babies.

“Well, I hope I have two boys,” one 15-year-old sleepover buddy wished out loud. Another said she wanted a boy first and then a girl. I gagged at the thought.

Well, I did get married and I dutifully took all precautions to not become pregnant. There was college to finish, music to play, and gardens to plant. But nature scored,  and I gave birth to two girls.

You see, mothering was an alien concept. My mother died when I was two. A succession of women stepped in—but that’s a whole other story. This story is about my klutz-filled mothering that brought about two successful young women: One a respected attorney in her field of practice; the other a cheftestant on this season’s upcoming Top Chef premiering Nov. 2, on Bravo TV.

Honestly, I didn’t connect the parenting dots during my first pregnancy. I rode my real golden steed until—well, I won’t tell you how long I rode into my pregnancy because I can hear the enraged comments now. It’s of no matter anyway because that’s 38 years back. That baby is the one you’ll find in a courtroom litigating natural resource law.

The second union brought about the future celebrity chef. By then I was cocky about birthing and Dakota took her first breath at home. I cherished being a mother and wife. But it was a short-lived. Eighteen months later my identity transformed to mother and widow.

Fate disallowed tears and external signs of weakness. Quoting my cheftestant daughter on the recent  Bravo promotional tape, “I just bucked up bigger.”

I own a plethora of mistakes and misjudgments. But each crushing reality check spawned continued value definition and the will to move forward. This is what I believe formed my baby girls into the women I savor today.

“Mom! There’s a spider on the floor.”

“Quit screaming like a girl. Pick it up with a tissue and put it outside—unless it’s black with a red mark, then squash it with a shoe.”

In other words, buck up. Deal with it. Take responsibility. I couldn’t do everything. Skid marks cut and scarred   my own learning curve. It sounds hard-lined, but as mother, father, earner and guide, the options ranged between zero and nothing.

Each year I observed these willowy girls develop grace, stature, and confidence—every asset I lacked. And now they’re both winners.

To understand the overwhelming excitement about my daughter’s celebrity, you have to know this back story. My next blog will tell the real story about our family kitchen, cooking, eating and surprises.

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