A long time ago in a galaxy far far away my son is obsessed with Star Wars, Heaven help me, is there no rest for the weary? I wrote a little thing about the media playing up the tensions between working moms and stay at home moms and how I thought that the tensions were imagined. I also said something about how I often wished I stayed at home, but in general was happy that I was working out of the home and that nobody had a right to say that one option was more challenging than the other. I’d show you exactly what I wrote, but I can’t find it because the search feature on this blog isn’t working and hasn’t been for months and months just like the comment function for 50% of the people who try to leave comments but hey, I’m working on it and, again, by “I” I mean “someone who isn’t me.”
Here’s the thing. I’m taking it back. Life is infinitely less complicated when one parent doesn’t have a full time job that requires that he/she be out of the house for 8+ hours a day. Is life complicated regardless of who works where and for how long? Yes. Is staying home with children stressful, exhausting, and occasionally mind-numbing? Yes, Yes, and Yes. Is it tedious and frustrating to “keep a house?” Yes.
My husband does at least, if not more than, half of the child management stuff around here. He is the laundry master. He irons. The division of labor in terms of house and kids is pretty equal. We have terrific babysitters and ready, willing, able grandparents. Our gym has an excellent kids’ program. We squeak in little bits of “doing our own thing” whether that thing be writing and girls’ night out or mountain biking and skiing. And we are bloody spent.
We can, but I don’t want to
I chose a career that gives me summers off and before you go all “Teachers have it so easy, blah blah blah” you just come on over here any weeknight or weekend day and grab yourself a handful of essays and start grading. Better yet? Think of a way to teach the virtues and perils of iambic pentameter to a bunch of 14 year olds who’d rather be doing anything than learning about the virtues and perils of iambic pentameter despite the fact that their parents are determined to get them into Princeton on an iambic pentameter scholarship. Summers prove one thing other than age spots actually do happen if you spend too much time in the sun and no matter how many years I take tennis lessons I will still suck, when Mom’s home, everybody’s happier. It’s like a giant exhale…the pace slows, the urgency diminishes, the faith that it, whatever IT is, will all get done is reinstated. We are all freed up to be and do our best.
This week is spring break for me and my kids. I went to bed last night without Sunday Panic causing twitchy limbs and restless sleep. I grocery shopped, going to three different places so that everything we needed and wanted was stocked. The laundry is done. My kids are playing with each other, nicely, in anticipation of playdates or “playdakes” as my six year old still calls them and I refuse to correct her because it’s the very last baby thing she says. Later today, I’m going to clean the tub, not my favorite thing to do but I’m glad to do it and not feel like I’m supposed to be doing something else or, more likely, know that it needs doing and ignore it. I’m cooking, and not just tossing things from freezer to oven. Actual meals. Some for now and some for later.
For a week anyway, we’ve exhaled.
Baked Ziti with Ricotta
- Mix 12 oz whole milk ricotta, 2 tb olive oil, 1/2 tsp salt and some pepper together and set aside.
- In a separate bowl, toss together shredded mozzarella and 1 1/2 cups grated parmesan.
- Cool 1 1/2 pounds ziti until it just begins to soften – about five minutes. Keep 1 1/2 cups of the cooking water and drain the rest. Return drained pasta to the pot and stir in 4 1/2 cups marinara – however you make it – this is so personal that I’m not even going to impose my recipe on you. If you really want it, shoot me an email and I’ll send it. Add 2 more TB oil (I never said it was low fat) and the reserved pasta water.
- Pour half the sauced pasta into a 13 X9 baking dish. Splodge large spoonfuls of the ricotta over the pasta as evenly as you can without cursing loudly enough that the children hear. Ricotta doesn’t like to spread. Pour the remaining pasta over the ricotta. Sprinkle evenly with the mozzarella/Parm.
- You can freeze this sucker for a month if you wrap it well. You can also refrigerate it for a few days.
- To serve – either thaw it completely if it was frozen, or just stick it in a 400 degree oven. Cover the dish tightly with aluminum foil that’s been sprayed so the cheese doesn’t stick. Mustn’t waste the gooey melty cheese!
- Bake until sauce bubbles, 30-40 minutes.
- Remove the foil and bake until cheese begins to brown slightly, another 25 minutes or so.
Accept praise from grateful family.
I also made some of the Pioneer Woman’s BBQ Meatballs. You can click through to get at the recipe, but let me just say this: my husband ate some and immediately suggested we renew our wedding vows.