“In many countries, having it all is learning to read. Having it all is getting to choose whom you love. Having it all is walking to school without worrying that you might get raped on the way." -Delia Ephron, "Bakeries"
Last Saturday started with a cup of coffee and an essay entitled "Bakeries" by Delia Ephron, from her book Sister Mother Husband Dog. In this essay (adapted version here), Ephron details the delight she finds in the freedom and ability to visit an array of New York bakeries when she has a hankering for something sweet. She then calls out the decidedly American struggle to “have it all” that so many women write/talk/worry about for what it is - simply complaining.
She writes: "One of the most revolting parts about the American female version — and there are many — is that having it all defines “all” one way: marriage, children, career. It assumes all women want the same thing. Success rests on achieving three goals (life viewed not as a continuum, but an endpoint), and these goals, as it happens, are exactly the ones that will declare you a success at your high school reunion."
Now, obviously I would like to be among the people declared a success at my high school reunion. I've always wanted to fit in and I've always wanted to be good at things. When it comes to this weird American woman trifecta, however, I'm less and less convinced that it's something I could sanely handle, let alone something I actually want.
Dann was out of town last Saturday and I could feel an isolation pity party coming on, so instead of spending the day overanalyzing my life choices and whether or not I will ever "have it all", I decided to make a pie to take to the football-watching party I was invited to on Sunday. The Broncos were playing in the AFC championship, so I googled "Mile High Pie" and found this recipe from Bon Apétit.
On my way to pick up the pie ingredients, I stopped at the mall and spent more money than I should have on newborn baby clothes for my new niece. I justified it by telling myself she’s not mine so I don’t have to do it regularly, that I just get to spoil her without fear that I might be raising a spoiled child. I was beside myself with delight, having it all.
As I finished putting together the pie crust, my mom called to ask if I could head over and take care of making dinner for my sister and her husband, the new parents. Of course I went, new baby clothes in hand, and offered to help however I could. For nearly two straight hours, I held the beautiful sleeping baby, having it all.
And then I came home to finish the pie. It was after midnight when I got done, but it didn’t matter. I had a deep peace about my life in those hours spent beating the egg whites, melting the chocolate, whipping the cream. I have a comfortable home, a functional kitchen, a killer new rolling pin that my mom gave me for Christmas, friends who invited me over to watch a football game, family that cares to see me, and the most precious gift - the tiny little life that I held in my arms while her mama and papa took a well-deserved nap. I went to sleep that night satisfied, having it all.