Meat & Potatoes

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

The other day, I was at a crossroads.  Perhaps you've been there before.  It was early afternoon and I was just beginning to think about that age old (yet, daily) question:  What's for dinner?  The pickings were slim.  I didn't want to order in (scratch that, I did want to order in, but we really couldn't afford it and I knew I shouldn't cop out of dinner-making one more time that week) and I definitely did not want to load up the girls in the car, unload them, scream and cry our way through a trip around the grocery store, and have to come all the way back home to start cooking.  Ugh, that sounded terrible to me.

So, I faced my cupboards and my fears and decided with all my might to figure out something that could be constructed into an edible excuse for supper.  I sighed as I sifted through my barren pantry, finding a can of this or that.  I yanked out my last pound of meat at the back of the freezer (ground turkey!) and found some frozen peas next to it.  I dug around the bins of my fridge and discovered leftover potatoes that hadn't rotted through yet.  I know, this sounds scary to most of you, but I was so determined to scrape by until payday that I had really let our kitchen become quite meager.  Still, I knew I could pull something together.  Something.

As I surfed the Internet for ideas, it suddenly struck me.  Maybe it was the crisp new chill in the air, but suddenly the need for comfort food hit my belly and mashed potatoes crossed my brain.  Aha - that was it - Shepherd's Pie!  For those of you who may not know, Shepherd's Pie is a sort of an old "peasant" kind of dish, meant for recycling leftovers for people who don't have access to the first round of good food.  It's a layered dish of meat and vegetables topped with mashed potatoes.  Generally, around here anyway, you see it with ground beef, carrots, corn, and peas.  The topping of buttery mashed potatoes is really its selling point, let's be honest here.

Voila!  Shepherd's Pie it was, and as the weather got chillier and our tummies grew hungrier, the better and better it was smelling.  Sure enough, by the time we ate, it was super delicious.  Yay - a hit!  And I was mighty proud that I had scavenged our cabinets and turned our humble means into something quite delectable.  (Great recipe here for those of you wondering!)

It wasn't until hours afterward, with my hunger and dignity satisfied, that it occurred to me what an analogy my day had become.  As I tucked my girls into bed for the night, exhausted from another haphazardly wonder-filled day, it struck me how motherhood is like that silly Shepherd's Pie.

In the day-to-day events, motherhood is such a mess.  It really is.  I must look at the clock about 13 times a day, and I have no idea why except for the fact that it helps confirm one thing to me:  this too shall pass.  I love motherhood.  Sincerely!  I cherish these precious girlies the Lord has blessed me with.  I want nothing more than to be with them, nurture them, engage with them, help guide them.  But, boy oh boy can they press my buttons!  Whew!

The hour-by-hour focus that two little toddlers requires of me is astounding.  At their best, they are talking non-stop, running around, climbing, throwing food or clothes, or trying to leap from furniture.  And at their worst, well, let's just say I've had to clean Play-Doh out of carpets, crayons off of walls, get glue and honey and paint and applesauce out of hair, and keep them from strangling each other with dress up clothes or jewelry.  It's crazy business, let me tell you!  In fact, just today it crossed my mind that, "Hey, God, if even EVE couldn't keep her kids from killing each other, how do you expect me to?!?"  Sometimes I wonder.

The everyday mischief is just like those peas and carrots.  It's just like that freezer burned ground meat or those nearly rotten potatoes.  You line it all up and it looks like nothing but a heap of garbage.  What a mess.

But, you're looking at it all wrong.  There's more to it then that.  (Hold on, I'm gonna go all Karate Kid on you here!)  How many times has an older mother passed by you and your youngins in public and looked at you sweetly, maybe even stopped and said something like "Oh, how wonderful, I remember those days!  Cherish them!"?  Do you think she is remembering the rotten potatoes?  Heavens, no.  She's smelling the Shepherd's Pie.

All these days, these terribly exhausting days of trouble, they are all adding up into a terrific era of our lives.  I just know it.  I can't quite see it, at least, not while I'm in the middle of it and just want to strap my toddler to her highchair so I can please just fold this basket of laundry that's been sitting in my living room for a week!  Please!?  But, I know it's true.

Some days, when the dust settles long enough for the sunlight to beam in just right and my girls are smiling and my brain hits pause just long enough to capture a moment in time that looks better than any Instagram filter ever could...I get a glimpse of the big picture.  I can very nearly imagine myself an old woman trying to recall this very moment.  I can almost smell the memory of the present, though it is happening right in front of me, as if it were decades ago and I'm longing for the sweet innocence of not knowing their futures.  I blink, and their older.  I blink, and I forget it all.  I blink, and suddenly I am back in the throws of the day and just struggling to survive once more.  Peas and carrots, again.

This daily struggle matters.  This mess that we're trying to make sense of, it will make sense before we know it, and all too soon we will be smacking our lips wondering why we ever thought it seemed so terrible.  We don't have to wait until then to believe it will be satisfying.  Take hold of it right now, dig right it, get messy and creative and believe in what you are doing, because before its all over you will want to know that this was part of what makes it great.

You're in the thick of it, mamas.  This is real meat and potatoes kind of life stuff.  Keep up the good work, and savor every second.

1 comment:

  1. All your blogs are gems,but this one is really lovely. Probably because you wrote about me. Yep, I'm one of those "older mothers" who stop young moms and tell them to cherish the moment! Hey it was done to me and now I'm returning the favor!Thanks for the memories!


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