Monday, October 21, 2013

portrait of a mother


my guilty motherhood issues begin with a pizza.

i made a pizza the other night for dinner. you know. you saw it. it was not an artisanal, made-my-own-dough-from-scratch pizza. not a gluten-free pizza (sorry loverboy). not even a whole wheat pizza. a straight up pillsbury-dough-boy, cheddar-cheese supplementing-the-"pizza"-cheese, cut-up-tomato-masquerading-as-toppings pizza. and i'm not ashamed. i am, kind of. but, really, no i'm not.

loverboy says to me, as we're stealthily shoveling pizza in our faces in the den because it's farther from the nursery and the baby has been sleep-regressing (yeah, that's what we're calling it) and also he can hear your socks crinkling is how light a sleeper he is, "this pizza is totally a rebecca pizza."

"the taste of it reminds me of you. the simplicity of it."

that's when i really looked at the pizza and realized how bad it was. so, either i'm cheap or i'm lacking in finesse or i'm boring. (if you say 'or all of the above' i'll hurl something. probably a cheap pizza.)

i don't know if you know this but being compared to lame pizza is not exactly an ego booster. because here's the thing, the pizza does say something about me.

it says: when i put my mind to it, i can make a very lackluster pizza.

and also: i'm not a perfectionist. and yes, i'm maybe kind of utilitarian. as in, robotic.

i've been accused of being robotic about things before — cooking, usually. which i consider a terrible and accurate criticism. terrible because i do actually like cooking. or i used to. i think. i mean, i love food. i love cooking utensils. i love reading recipes. i like gatherings around food. so, i must like making food, right?

and accurate because, um, bad pizza.

here's the thing—feelings of guilt and inadequacy reach their peak in motherhood. or at least, it seems to be that way in this day and age. everywhere you look, you are reading about what it means to succeed, whether women can have it all, or have enough and what that looks like anyways. and if not, then you're reading about what you should be doing. seriously, my to-do list has hit an all-time freneticness. (i have to say though that loverboy has always been amazingly supportive and helpful and never pressures me to make dinner or complains about what i've made. the pressure and guilt are all self-inflicted.)

but then i had another thought: dinner is at the bottom of my to-do list. and i'm okay with that, at least for right now. (clarification: making dinner is at the bottom. eating it is always at the top!;)

last week was one of those weeks. you know those weeks? when your loverboy is working late hours and it's up to you to entertain, bathe, feed and put the baby down, whilst simultaneously making your own dinner and also, maybe keeping the rest of this machine we call a household going. it is a machine. and yes, sometimes what you get is a cog in the wheel, not roses for smelling. (mixed metaphors are my true artform).

i don't know how anyone else does it. those wonder moms who somehow create culinary masterpieces, work full-time jobs outside the home and probably have 2 or 3 more munchkins than i have. or those single moms who never have an extra set of hands around. let's nominate those women for medals of honor!

mothers are machines, in the best sense of the word. but—and maybe this is my real point?—artists, too.

i may not make a succulent, bon-appetît-worthy spread every night—or even every week.

i may pinterest far more cute, home-made, craftsy projects than i actually do. (i might not even do one.)

i may sometimes take a picture for the sake of having a picture, instead of getting the artsy shot.

i may shop at target instead of cool, vintage stores.

i may occasionally (usually) make pumpkin pie with canned pumpkin.

i may buy my mini cacti at ikea.

but i am an artist.

my artistry is—

learning the perfect kissable spot on wilder's back to get his laughs out.

cooking, blending, freezing, thawing and mixing vegetable after vegetable to find one he likes.

wiping the water away from his eyes during bathtime. and towelling him off ever so gently afterwards, so that he will not get grumpy. 

using special voices to make goodnight gorilla a little more interesting. 

row, row, row-ing your boat on the living room floor during the dinner hour (aka fussy hour), instead of kneading dough in the kitchen. (if i'm gonna knead dough, there better be scones happening!)

there will come a day when i will like the kitchen again and whip out mouthwatering, gourmet dinners (and i dream of jeannie, too;).

but for now, i am shaping something else. he matters more, i think.

thanks to store-bought, pillsbury dough boy pizza crusts everywhere for enabling this true confession of an epiphany,


mother B.


  1. oh boy... i am so scared of those feelings of guilt and inadequacy that i know i'll be dealing with several months from now... i hope i remember to re-read this post when that happens to me. and FWIW, the fact that you MADE a pizza at all is impressive, because even now, without a baby, i've practically got Dominos on speed dial! (jk i just have the phone app- even faster)

  2. i'm saving this. i feel like one day, assuming i have children, this will get me through a tough day or two or many more. lovely.

  3. actually i am saving it because, even if i never have children, i think this will lift my spirits. there is something universal about this, something i loves.