How to Make a Meatpie and other Tales of the Ambitious Mother.
Making a meat pie for your infant is not the easiest task — it demands love, patience, and all the pots you own. However, it births innate satisfaction and delight.
First things first, broil a piece of meat that may amount to the price of Italian shoes. Then collect about 60 different kinds of fresh vegetables and proceed to peel, de-seed, chop, and roast. Next, whip up mashed potatoes from scratch. Because your infant is yet to start teething, find the Cuisinart (which you probably haven’t used), dust out the stray hairs, and weed out the dead bugs from its container: try to figure out the blade without risking amputation. Throw in all your prepared ingredients into its hungry belly and press PULSE. And when it’s all done and delicious, feel terrific about this milkshake “meaty love” you adoringly made for your son.
When afternoon comes knocking, feed your son spoonfuls of this meaty love at a downtown cafe while ignoring stares from people without children who are have only recently awakened for the day. Try not to be surprised when your little one barfs out the meaty milkshake with such violent velocity and precision — leaving you to pick out pieces of meat pie from your bra in the restroom. How on earth did it get there? You will wonder aloud. And why does it still look the same way as it did when going in? Again, try not to express your pleasure at the horrified faces of the people without children, as, not unlike the prom-goers in the movie Carrie, they get sprayed with the creamy, beefy puke.
The meat pie is just one example of what happens when I do not work. The workaholic self creeps, ghost-like, into the body of the mothering self. And when I work, the mothering self raises her eyebrows, hands on hips, and wags a guilt-inducing finger. Working and mothering is a devastating dance. The question is how can I master both?
My job as a commercial director makes me one of the lucky few, I guess. When I work, I work hard. But there are days when the only time spent with Owen is when he is asleep. My jobs span a month and this is exquisite torture. When I am not working, I am home and we reconnect like long-lost lovers; we kiss so passionately forcing my husband to say ever-so-often, “That looks weird.”
The transition between a mother and a worker is never seamless.
Here is what happens when I AM working:
About six months ago, I took Owen to a music class. I was in the middle of an important job but sneaked out for a stolen precious hour. We were sitting in a circle, in an echo-y, blonde dance studio (with my shy and clingy son), when in walked another mother-son duo. Owen’s eyes went wide and he said, “Mommy?”
This mother looked a little like me–dark hair, big eyes, a red sweater like mine. I smiled. Shrugged at the other moms.
Then Owen did a thing! He got up, toddled over to her, and shrieked, “Mommy!” His tiny voice was suddenly large, looming in the hall. A little amused, a little embarrassed, I pulled at his arm–”No sweetie, I’m your Mommy.” He shook his head. He pointed to her. “Mommy!” He climbed into her lap and buried his head into her bosom, her pillowy, full bosom–my own bosom having long since melted into candle wax drippings. She was the better version of me, softer, rounder; available. The other mother’s son was busy strumming on the vent at the back of the room, so she said it was fine and cuddled my son.
It was a lonely walk back to my orange mat on the floor. Singing the “Lone Ranger” theme song with the group, Acappella no less is impossible when your heart is broken. He howled when I pried him from her at the end of class.
That night, I called my pediatrician, Googled “reincarnation,” and sobbed in the shower.
The other day, Owen and I entered Washington Square Park, when we stumbled upon a film crew. I ran into Reggie, the camera assistant from my crew.
“Whatcha shooting?” I asked him.
“A commercial for Puma,” he said.
“Hmmm. Puma. I did a Puma job once.” I tried not to sound, god forbid, jealous.
After we waved our goodbyes, I couldn’t help but think of the great job I did for Puma. People said it was an especially good Puma commercial. So, it was only natural that I did all the Puma jobs right? I mean, how could they, the Puma Corporation, do a job in my own backyard without me? With one eyeball on my son and one across the park at the film crew, I strained to relax and ignore the green ache in my stomach.
Then a little boy with a tiny Afro came into the park with Thomas the Train and my son went ballistic. My son covets trains the way I covet jobs. And Tiny Afro wasn’t sharing. Owen picked himself up and threw himself to the ground repeatedly as though bouncing on a bed. He banged his head on the gravel. He screamed, “Thomas! My Thomas!” and did that thing two-year-olds do.
And as he flailed, with snot streaming into his neck, I suddenly threw myself to the ground and cried, “MY JOB, MINE! Mine-oh-mine-oh-MINE!” I stamped my feet. I banged my head on the gravel.
And I screamed. I screamed for all the jobs I would do and all the jobs I wouldn’t do. I screamed for the look on my little one’s face when the nanny shows up. I screamed for the look on my mother’s face, the way she raises her eyebrows when I tell her I won another job. I screamed for the lascivious producers who have asked me on break, “You gonna go . . . pump?” I screamed because there are too few hours in the day. I screamed for guilt and ambition, for love and death. I screamed and bawled and flailed and thrashed. Then there was silence.
There is something to be said for a tantrum. My son and I caught each other’s eye, lying there on the pavement by the slide, the gravel sparkly in the sun. We both sniffled, rubbed our eyes because we were tired, realized that maybe we needed a snack and a hug.
Slowly, we got up and went to each other. I smoothed out my red raincoat. I helped him into his stroller. I wiped both our noses. And as we strolled past the shocked nannies and mothers, past the Puma ad agency and crew, it occurred to me that there is no perfect and there never will be.
My son and I went home and had lunch. Since I was not working and we had the whole afternoon in front of us, I decided to make a meat pie, of sorts. This time, we made it together, out of hot dogs and string cheese and leftover spaghetti.
It just might be the most delicious thing yet.
For more adorable insight into “mom life”, read our blog.
Photo: Matthew Hranek
POSTED IN: TALK · TAGGED: ESSAY, FIGURING IT OUT, MEAT PIE