So every woman probably makes the same promise to herself, her friends, her husband, her co-workers and probably anyone who will listen . . . “Just because I have a kid doesn’t mean anything has to change.” I really did truly believe this and myself when I kept on repeating it over and over again.
Even after our son arrived, I kept thinking . . . “I can be my old self.” I think it was probably my first week back at work as I sat pumping in a chair in a handicap bathroom stall, the smell of someone else’s morning bowel movement overwhelming me, that I realized something definitely had changed and then the automatic sensor light went off and I was left sitting in the dark.
It was definitely a low moment and not because I was sitting in the dark, in a bathroom that wreaked of sh*t with a medieval torture device attached to my boobs but because the rest of the world hadn’t changed but, despite my insistence, I had.
Not only had I changed, I had turned into that woman I swore I would not. I was so that mom, the one who showed off pictures of her son at work meetings, talked about the cutest things that he did despite the clear signs that the other person in the conversation had no interest, and could happily spend an hour discussing feeding and sleep schedules. The worst part of all of this, is that secretly I love being that mom but hated that my old self got lost somewhere along the way.
So last weekend when the hubby skipped town to attend a wedding on the east coast, I found myself both excited and terrified to be alone with my 13 month old for 3 days. I feared that I would be left exhausted and a shell of myself, trading everything that I might want or need out of a weekend for everything that my son needed.
In the end, it turned out to be one of my best weekends yet because I finally learned the art of balance. It also might help that my love for food is rubbing off on the kid. We had breakfast at a French bakery, hit up a local farmer’s market and lastly, cooked this delicious dinner together (ok we might have also squeezed in several hours of playground time and a birthday party). By the way, I use the word “together” very loosely in that my son patiently watched while I prepped all the food and let me take breaks from play time to tend to it.
The best part was sitting down to dinner, just the two of us, and watching the look on his face as he devoured his dinner. And then it hit me, my son might require a lot of love and attention but what he really needs most is a happy mom.
Pasta with Fresh Mozzarella, Roasted Tomato and Eggplant
Serves 2 to 3
1/2 lb of Penne pasta
1/2 of a large ball of fresh mozzarella (I think 4oz), diced
1 pint of cherry tomatoes, whole unless larger than a quarter than cut in half
1/2 of a medium eggplant, peeled and diced
6 to 7 fresh basil leaves, cut into strips
Preheat the oven to 400 degrees
Place eggplant on a plate and salt, leaving for at least 10 minutes (but ideally 30 minutes).
Place washed and dried cherry tomatoes in a medium bowl with 1 to 2 tbsp of olive oil (enough to coat), fresh basil leaves, salt and pepper. Let sit aside marinating.
Toss eggplant with 1 tbsp of olive oil and place on a roasting pan. Cook for 20 minutes, flipping halfway through.
Place marinated tomatoes on a roasting pan and roast in oven for 10 minutes.
Meanwhile cook pasta according to directions. Drain cooked pasta, reserving 1/2 a cup of pasta water.
Place diced mozzarella in the bottom of a pasta bowl, cover with pasta, roasted eggplant and cherry tomatoes. Pour about 2 tbsp of pasta water over top, just enough to moisten pasta. Sprinkle with a little gray salt and serve.
I like to mix up my pasta when I start eating so that the melting mozzarella at the bottom is incorporated into the dish.