Tuesday, May 12, 2009

The Toughest Job In The World and My New Goal In Life.

Oprah (no need for a last name, right?) often trumpets, "Moms have the toughest job in the world."

All right, first the obvious: Oprah knows this because ...?

And second, although she is right about it being tough, is it a job?

If so, I've got a couple of questions.

When's my performance review? My peer evaluation? I'm an achiever. I need someone to tell me I'm doing a superior job, identify areas in which I've improved, and areas that need work. The more flowery, ego-inflating adjectives, the better.

How many vacation days do I get? What's the tech guy's number? My computer's running kind of slow. And can I talk to the HR person about my chair? It's really bothering my back.

What's my projected career path? When is lunch? And oh yeah, I'm taking a sick day tomorrow.

Yep. Being a mom isn't so much a job as it is a living. On my resume, it would read, "Mom. 1995 to the present, into the foreseeable future, atrophying into a permanent, occasionally crippling, condition."

Now, don't get me wrong. I love being a mom. But it's pretty obvious what I miss about working. With the mom gig, no one ever says, "The way you waited out that temper tantrum was masterful. Good job!" You never hear, "Well, thank God that laundry's over. Now you can just stick it in a file and forget it." Or, "The way you handled that talk about substance abuse? Brilliant. What do you say we podcast it?"

I just can't tell when or if I'm doing the right thing as a parent. The people for whom I am mom (my clients, I suppose) will never say, at the end of a carefully-worded, well-crafted "talk" on my part say, "You know Mom, you make a good point."

And the odds of my ever hearing, "You're right"? Well, let's just say it's appropriate that I've never been a gambling kind of girl.

A mom friend of mine recently received what I consider the consummate mom compliment ("mompliment" maybe?) from her 19-year-old son. As she put it, "We were discussing how some of his peers had screwed up -- probably because their parents had taken it too easy on them over the years. I wondered aloud if I had been tough enough on him and his brother." There was a pause, then her incredible, perceptive, profoundly honest son replied, "Believe me, Mom. You were sufficiently hard-ass."

Sufficiently hard-ass. My new goal in life.

First though, dinner. And since I'm the kind of mom who, although they don't know it, likes to please her kids, I'm making "Not So Dirty Rice." I once made the mistake of referring to it as "Dirty Rice" but since I'm also the kind of mom who can learn from her mistakes, I quickly changed the name. Nevertheless, this is quick, easy and always a crowd-pleaser.

Not So Dirty Rice (with Sausage)
A traditional Cajun dish, Dirty Rice is often made with chicken livers, as well as sausage. The crumbly livers give the rice a particularly "dirty" tinge.. Although it's often served as a side dish (with fried chicken or ham), Dirty Rice is a main dish at our house. This version serves four.

1 lb bulk breakfast sausage

1 onion, chopped
1 rib celery, chopped
1-2 cloves garlic, minced

pinch of cayenne pepper
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
fresh ground pepper
1 cup uncooked rice
2 cups (approx.) chicken broth

In a large skillet (with a lid), begin browning sausage. When no longer pink, stir in onion and celery. Continue sauteeing. When vegetables are translucent, stir in garlic. Keep stirring. When sausage is browned, season with cayenne pepper, salt and pepper. Stir in rice. Cook an additional 2 minutes, then pour in chicken broth, reduce heat to low and cover. (Don't stir again.) Check to see if all liquid is absorbed after 20 minutes. If not, replace lid and cook an additional 3-5 minutes. (If liquid is absorbed, though, and rice isn't done, add some more chicken broth.) Fluff, and add additional seasoning, if necessary. (May depend upon the spiciness of the sausage.) Serve hot. Pass the Tabasco.

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