Blackberry Jam Hand Pies + Bearing The Weight

“Women who bear the weight of opposition, she wrote, create a shelter for the rest of us.”

- Sue Monk Kidd, Traveling With Pomegranates

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More than any other woman I know, my mom has fought hard all her life to create a shelter for the rest of us. She birthed five children all her own (mostly without medication, one who came out ass-first) and raised us all to be upstanding, moral citizens with proper grammar. Time will tell if she can claim to have raised five college graduates, but the baby just aced his Calc 3 midterm, so nobody’s worried.

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If you’ve ever met her, you know my mom really enjoys taking care of people. She loves having guests at her house, feeding them, making sure they’re comfortable. She’s been known to exchange her own relaxation and peace of mind for the comfort and care of others. And one thing I’ve never doubted for my whole life: that my mom would do just about anything to take the weight of whatever opposition came my way - physical, emotional, spiritual - in order to create a shelter for me. She’s a fierce mama bear in the truest sense.

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When my sister’s baby was born last month, my mom was the most excited. So excited, in fact, that she left her feet momentarily in the hospital parking lot because a) it was icy and b) she was in such a hurry to get inside. We didn’t know whether the baby was a boy or a girl until she was born, and my sister and brother-in-law chose to name little Vera after my maternal grandmother. My mom lost it as she told us the baby’s birthday was also the anniversary of my grandma’s death. It was one of the most special things I’ve ever witnessed.

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So when my dad asked if I could make dessert for my mom's birthday dinner last weekend, I knew a special pie was in order. (I bought a ravioli stamp recently after reading this post, in hopes that it would solve the age-old mystery of filling:crust ratio in a hand pie. It did not, but no one complained.) I wanted my mom to feel special and celebrated, to feel appreciated for all the ways she's worked to shelter me for my whole life. 

Here's to you, mama. I'm glad you were born.

Mile High Chocolate + Having It All

“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"

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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.

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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.

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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. 

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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.   

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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.