Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Where IS a woman's place anyway?

I took a class this semester about gender issues.  It was a humanities class I needed to take to fulfill some requirements for my degree.  I read a lot about traditional gender roles and stereotypes and other boring stuff we all already know about and probably rail against.  Men are supposed to work and support their families and women are supposed to stay home and raise the children and take care of the home.  You know the story.

But something occurred to me when I was reading this anti-patriarchal, feminist diatribe of a textbook: the essayists that spoke so vehemently against patriarchy, so vehemently for women's rights to equality, so vehemently about the oppression of women not just here in the US but around the world.  There seemed to be such an angry undertone to some of the things I read.  So much anger about the injustices and unfairness that women face every day.  And while I don't deny that these things exist, I wondered, if a woman chose a traditional gender role as her life's path, what's so wrong with that?  And even more so, if I as a woman do not choose to fight the feminist, egalitarian fight, what's so wrong with that?

Reading this textbook, and applying the words to my life, it would appear that any outlying feminist would approve of what I've done.  I waited a while to have kids, I built myself a solid career, I am in school to further my education, and I'm not letting motherhood stand in my way of anything else I might want.  I am not the only person who handles household chores and duties, as things are quite evenly split with my husband, so on the outside looking in, it would appear that I've fought and quite possibly won that egalitarian fight that all women around the world should be fighting every single day of their lives.

But you know, not so far deep down is a pretty large piece of me that's largely unfulfilled.  Why?  Because I'm not home with my daughter.  Because I have to work to support the house.  Because my husband can't make enough money for me to stay at home and raise my daughter and not miss out on all her early years.  I suppose the economy might have already been heading in that direction anyway, where I'd be forced into the workforce.  But if it wasn't, I would trade my job any day to stay home with my daughter.  At least until she goes to school.  There's a part of me that's almost mad at these damn feminists for fighting that fight for me.  For assuming that ALL women SHOULD either want or have the ability to be equal to men.  Like hey ladies, thanks, now I will either suffer from Mommy Guilt (the guilt a mother feels for having to work) or Contributor Guilt (the guilt a mother feels for staying home with her kids and not financially contributing to the household) for the rest of my life.

I guess you can't please everyone.

Tuesday, August 16, 2011


Q:  When does a mother stop being so tired all the time?

A:  Never.

Admittedly, I have entirely too much on my plate.  I don't know what happened to me when I had a baby but it seemed like as soon as she came along, either I had so much more stuff to do, or I just gave myself so much more stuff to do.  Maybe it's a combination of both.  

I don't really know why I'm all that tired though.  Doing laundry doesn't exhaust me.  I just lay on the couch and deplete my DVR while I'm waiting for it to finish.  I haven't had a lot of homework keeping me up late at night this semester, since my classes have been embarrassingly easy.  Sigh.  

A nap sounds really good right about now.


Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Ch-ch-ch-chicken Enchiladas

How's about a food post, eh?
Mexican is my absolute favorite cuisine.  I love the cheap stuff, I love the expensive stuff, and I love to make it at home.  I make some killer nachos, but enchiladas are probably my favorite dish.  Chicken enchiladas are actually really easy to make -- I had these done and on the table in under 40 minutes -- and if you find yourself a good prepared sauce, then you're set.

I'm a big fan of Rick Bayless' enchilada sauces.  He makes an enchilada sauce that comes in a pouch, and another one that comes in a tall jar.  Tonight I used the jarred one.  Now before I'm crucified for copping out on enchiladas by using a prepared sauce (it's practically the star of the dish), let me just say that I have tried so many different enchilada sauce recipes.  I have reconstituted so many dried peppers, pressed them through fine-mesh strainers, blended till my head was about to explode.  I just can't find a good one that I can make myself.  I'm still searching though.  I think if I find the right dried pepper combination, I will be set.  I have a method down for them.  But in the meantime -- especially on a weeknight -- a high-quality prepared sauce it is.

So here's my recipe for fast and easy chicken enchiladas.

First -- buy yourself a rotisserie chicken.  Or, if you have some time, poach a few chicken breasts in chicken stock in a slow cooker on high for 1 1/2 hours.  Toss in some garlic and onion for flavor if you want, but you could even do this with water if you didn't have chicken stock.  Figure about one chicken breast per person.

Then shred the chicken with two forks.

Chop up a small yellow onion (for one rotisserie chicken I use an onion a little bigger than a golf ball) and one jalapeno.

Squirt some vegetable or canola oil into a skillet, heat it up, and drop in the veggies.  Saute until they
are soft and the onion is translucent.

Next, shred some cheese.  I like monterey jack for chicken enchiladas.  I think cheddar can melt a little on the oily side, but if you like cheddar, well honey, shred some cheddar.

And what is Maraea doing while all this is going on, you might ask?  This:

That's my girl.

Next, dump your shredded chicken into the skillet with your veggies.  Spoon some of the enchilada sauce over top and mix it all up.  You want to sauce the chicken just enough to give it a coating.  You don't want your chicken swimming in sauce.  Make it look like this:

Oh, yum.

Next you want to take a tortilla (I prefer flour after many fail enchiladas made with corn), and put a little bit of the shredded cheese down first.

And then some of the chicken mixture on top of that.

Roll it up, and place it seam-side down in a baking dish.

Here's how much of a fail blogger I am -- I forgot to sauce the bottom of the dish with enchilada sauce.  These didn't turn out bad, but it definitely helps with the non-stickness.


Repeat until you're out of chicken and cheese stuffingy goodness.

Now, this next step is very important.  Spoon some sauce over the edges of the enchiladas.  Why?  If you don't, they will get crunchy in the oven.  No bueno, trust me.

Want an update on Maraea?  Here she is, mommy's little helper.

Ok, so now you've just got to finish saucing your enchiladas.  Then you want to top them with the rest of your cheese.  If you're a cheesehead, go ahead and go overboard.  But you really don't need to.  Simple is a good thing.  But, so is cheese.  So I digress.  Top as your heart desires.

Bake at 350 for about 15-20 minutes.  Or, until they look like this:

Yeah, baby.  Come to mama.

Time to eat!

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Mon Raison d'Etre

There it is, folks.  My reason for being.

Every afternoon at work I start to countdown the minutes to when I get to bust out of the office, get in my car, fight 95 North traffic for 40 minutes, and run through my front door to my daughter jumping off the couch and saying "HIIIIIEEEEEE!" to me.  She will wave at me, and say "Hi!  Hi!  Hi!", and stand at my legs and wrap her arms around them until I've unloaded all my stuff and I can scoop her up.  Then I will countdown through the nightly whinies and grumpiness and the nightly baptism of bathwater all over my back or legs, just to get to this very moment right here.  Just to get to the moment where I can sit in a rocking chair and snuggle with my baby and sing songs to her and listen to her jibber jabber along with me and all my daily troubles melt away as her chest moves up and down with slower and slower breaths.  Eventually she starts to drift off and I realize it's time to put her in her crib, but most of the time, I really don't want to.  Most of the time, I have to force myself to do it.

Honestly, I need those quiet moments just as much as she does.

A little bit after I put her to sleep, I start to miss her.  I start to wish she was awake and downstairs with me, even if she was whining or being grumpy.  So then I start the countdown to when I get to go to sleep so I can wake up to this.....

....and then I get to start my day with her all over again.