Monday, May 4, 2009

Hello. I Am The Worst Mom Ever.

I want my crown. Scepter, too, because as it turns out, I am The Worst Mom Ever.

I have no doubt, because I heard it from someone to whom I am mom. I suspect most of the neighbors also heard, as yesterday had been a lovely day (weather-wise, anyhow), and our screen door was open when the announcement was made loudly, forcefully and more than once. Neighborhood dogs were treated to their own, distinct, high-pitched version. Because Indignant Beloved Child and I were inside, no one else witnessed the accompanying eye-rolling, snorting and foot-stamping, but surely those within earshot could come up with a pretty good visual.

Worst. Mom. Ever. WME.

Like I haven't heard that before.

Little did Indignant Beloved Child (IBC) realize that, like many moms, I'd bestowed that particular title on myself as soon as I learned I was pregnant. I hadn't been eating enough potassium! I'd had a glass of wine over the weekend! I'd gained too much weight! I'd slept on the wrong side -- my right! Or was it my left?

That, my friends, was within the first hour of the little white stick turning blue. Witness my coronation. WME.

I continued to terrify myself by poring over What To Expect When You're Expecting. Although written to inform and soothe, any parent can tell you of the fresh nightmares brought in each chapter of that horror story. Like a Stephen King novel, it's one of those books that should be read only in broad daylight.

Post-delivery, I continued the torment with What To Expect The First Year and later, What To Expect: The Toddler Years. If What To Expect: The Teenaged Years were ever published, I could ditch my bedroom furniture for a treadmill and rowing machine. I'd never sleep again.

Nothing really prepares us parents for the size and scope of the problems and potential consequences of our parenting decisions. Sleeping through the night, potty-training, pacifiers and organic versus convenient -- about which we worry incessantly when our kids are tiny -- are dwarfed by later concerns about drinking, driving, friendships, sports, poor-decision-making in general and worse-decision-making in specific.

Some of these concerns we discuss openly in school meetings. Sometimes, we seek confidential advice from our closest friends and family. Still other worries lurk in our hearts and prey on our minds late at night, when everyone else -- seemingly unaware of the pitfalls of wily college applications -- is blissfully asleep.

IBC and I managed to work it out yesterday -- and pretty expediently at that. Although it wasn't exactly a Proud Parenting Moment, I handled the situation by -- giggling. Other Beloved Child pitched in, speaking harshly and disdainfully to IBC, "Huh! Did you really think that would work?"

A few excruciatingly long minutes passed before IBC came around, sticking a Best Mom Ever sign on my back.

Like I believe that. Particularly since, tonight, I'll be sneaking roundly-reviled spinach into the pasta, insisting that it's an abundance of somewhat-less-abhorred parsley.

Where's my crown? And has anyone seen my scepter?

Lemon Shrimp and Pasta

1/2 pound dry pasta (I'd prefer linguini, but I've got penne, so that's what I'm using)

1/2 - 3/4 pound shrimp, peeled (deheaded, if necessary)
1 lemon, zested and juiced (reserve juice for later)
1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
1 clove garlic, minced
red pepper flakes
about 1/2 cup dry white wine
about 1/2 cup chicken broth or clam juice
3-4 handfuls of baby spinach, rinsed, stacked and sliced in ribbons
kosher salt

Cook pasta (al dente) in well-salted boiling water and drain. Set aside.

While pasta is cooking, stir together shrimp, olive oil, garlic, one teaspoon of lemon zest and a sprinkle of red pepper flakes.

When pasta is done, place a large skillet over high heat. When skillet is hot, stir in shrimp mixture. Keep stirring, over high heat, so garlic doesn't scorch. When shrimp turn pink, stir in reserved lemon juice (about 2 tablespoons) and wine. Continue cooking another 1-2 minutes, until liquid is reduced and shrimp is cooked through. Stir in spinach, broth and pasta to heat through and wilt spinach. Adjust seasonings and serve hot.

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