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May 14, 2010


I read your blog on my RSS feed, and I love this post. I'm in the same boat. Yes, there's lots of sacrifice to be had for being a mom, but yes, if there's pie to be had, and I probably made it, I'm going to have a piece. My mom was the same way too. Pieces were just smaller :)

Sing it, sister!

That quote always reminds me of the time my parents and in-laws were both at our place for lunch, and I just threw some sandwich fixings on the table and let everyone have at it. BOTH my mother-in-law and my mother took a single heel slice of bread for their sandwich. There was plenty of bread! They could have each had another slice! Hell, they could each have had two REAL slices instead of a heel!

I made a joke about it at the time, but it makes me sad to think about now. Especially thinking that my MIL, now deceased, spent her whole life eating the damn heel slice.

Yes, yes, yes. Oh yes. And you know what? I'm damn well having some pie with you!

I was horrified the first time I heard that quote, way way back when my boy was a baby. I'd just met a woman with a daughter almost exactly the same age, and she quoted that to me. I more or less told her it was stupid, that as a mother I certainly deserve some pie, and then told her my favorite motherhood truism, the one about putting on your own oxygen mask first and then helping your child.

We did not become great friends.

If mama ain't happy, ain't nobody happy. Pass me the Cool Whip!

Amen! My mother always took the least attractive piece of meat, the dried out grapefruit, the chicken wings. From that, I absorbed the lesson that she wasn't as good as my dad and the rest of us. As a mother now, I consciously avoid that sort of sacrifice. As a sole parent of a 3-year-old, it can be really hard, but for example before I sit down to a meal with my daughter, I say "OK, once I sit down, I'm not getting up until I'm done eating. Do we have everything we need?" If she asked for something mid-meal, she knows she has to get it herself, or wait. (OK, sometimes I get up and help her get it for herself, but she's in the one in charge.)

Sooooooo well said.

You know, Gatito had waffles and melon on his plate yesterday morning. I went to pour myself some Raisin Bran and he wanted that, too. I said, there's only enough for one bowl and he said, great, he'd have that. I actually started to give it to him, but after he'd picked out a few raisins I took that damn bowl back!

Thank you Jo. I always feel guilty when I do something like give the kids the piece of cake from the edge and take a middle piece for myself. Like, what kind of horrible mother am I to selfishly take the "better" piece? Sad how we beat ourselves up so much over things that actually mean so little...

I posted that quote to my own facebook status simply because that's exactly the kind of thing my own mother did her whole life and it reminded me of her. She's been gone two years now.

I would either cut smaller pieces or eat all of it myself in the kitchen, alone, before anyone realized there was pie.

Eh, they criticize you and assume you're a fishwife if you have the pie. But I have it anyway.

And this morning my 5 yr old made me a jelly and cream cheese sandwich (on whole wheat, of course, because white bread is criminal in our society).

So I guess . . . not only will I have the pie, I'm gonna make my kids serve it to me on the average friday.

And boast about it.

But still feel guilty.

Thank you thank you thank you for posting this. I keep thinking "everything to everyone"; just trying to be who I think I should be, who I think everyone needs me to be, and it's exhausting. I find myself feeling jealous of everyone that can send their kids to public school, or go to work full time, or do anything without som much guilt that they jsut try to do it all at the same time.I feel like I'm juggling everything, and I'm not even doing a good job at any of it at this point But if I set the balls down, who will pick them up. It just helps to know that feeling this way is fine too.

Amen! This reminds me of a similar conversation on Flotsam...some commenter had noted to Alexa that she should feel ashamed of the state of her house (i.e., messy). Alexa responded by saying (in paraphrase)--why do women do this to themselves, and do you really think men feel shame about dirty socks on the floor? It was a good point.

In my own life, my refusal to feel guilt about having my kids in daycare is sometimes looked at askance by others, but frankly? I don't care: my kids are loved, they are happy, they are thriving. Period, end of story.

Pass that pie.

I should point out that in order for me to write this post, I had a sitter take the kids to the park...and feed them lunch and entertain them so that I could get the house cleaned up. Pie for all!

Great post and... good for you about the sitter!! Pie for all indeed! (I've never had a sitter, BTW, only my sacrificing mother and father. whoa. was that really bad? 'cause they didn't have much pie while I was finishing my dissertation & they voluntarily lived with us for 24 months (on an off)). hmmm, what can I say? Maybe be really transgressive and say I won't follow their example? 'Cause probably will. Sigh.

When I heard about moms who did that -- always took the worst part for themselves -- I was totally confused. Why would they DO that? It's so stupid. My mother always made sure she got her piece -- a good one, too -- and I never felt like she was selfish; I thought those other mothers were kind of dumb. So hands off my cake, kid.

LOVE the post, love the comments. We're the ones who have to step out of the martyr role & make shit happen for ourselves, that's just good sense. And good for our kids to see, too.


[licks residual pie off fingers contentedly]

Well said!
Pie is not really my forte, but you'd better believe I have my share of the baked goods I make around here that's not one of the things I allow myself to feel guilty about as a SAHM. Perhaps it's because I always wonder whether my mum was really telling the truth when she made put in new bread for us and said she'd take the overbrowned/blackened (and by the time she got to eat it, cold) toast because she likes the way it tastes.

I did it for a long time, and all it left me was resentful.

And PS to the cake-guilt mom: they like the edge pieces better anyway, there's more icing!

(( walking in with about a half dozen pies because these slices are just getting too small ))

Still figuring out how to deal with the fact that I'm the only one missing things. Hubby's life is a nice new movie watching, computer surfing, running 5 days a week normal and I LONG to both run (ever) and cook an actual meal (on my nights) instead of 2 cans + 1 box. I lIKE cooking.

You know, I've been thinking about it and while I like literal pie, I am sure glad I have become the kind of mom who happily surrenders the metaphorical pie when I need to. I don't see this quote as all or nothing, but an example of what mothers often do.

I'm no martyr, but I never dreamed I'd so happily give up hours of sleep, nights out drinking, money for frivolous things, and the occasional slice of pie. I've learned a lot since becoming a mom, and how to be (appropriately) less selfish is one of the most beautiful lessons. The happiness of others sometimes comes first and that is my choice, not my obligation.

My husband gives up plenty of metaphorical pie, too, so I'm not the only one carrying the load. We're happy, not resentful. When it starts to make you feel resentful, it's time to stop and have some pie.

I totally agree!

The thing that bugs me the most about the quote isn't that the mom gets no pie (which sucks). It's that not only does she have to make the sacrifice, she has to lie about the fact that she is making it! It's not a cheerful, 'It's ok, I'll have a piece next time.' It's the 'I never did care for pie.' So a mother is someone who doesn't get what she wants and pretends she never wanted it anyways. WTF! How many valium prescriptions have come out of that sentiment?

You have to take it for yourself, Cobblestone. No one will give it to you! Good luck.

Thank you, I really needed this.

I have been thinking about this post and feeling very "of two minds" about it--I think Lisa summed up my feelings pretty well. Then I opened an email this evening with this quote in it:
"You have to save a little sliver of your pie so you will know what kind of pie you like when the children grow up; you can't give it all away." This is apparently a statement from Rita Davenport. I don't know who she is or what she represents, but this does seem like a good counterpoint to: "no pie for you, Mom!"

Yeah, Lisa, I see what you're saying. Isn't the point, though, that motherhood is chock full of cheery sacrifice? I don't know a mother among us who hasn't gladly given up sleep, nights out at the bar, fancy dinners, extra cash, and a good slice of the bed. I think giving up things for the family good is part and parcel of mothering -- nay, parenting. It's something we do a million times a day, often without the slightest twinge of resentment.

Which is good, by the way! Even outside of the context of parenting, unselfishness makes for good people and a happy collective state.

My objection is along the lines of what CS said -- it's the idea that we *always* have to give *everything* up -- and what's more, pretend that we never wanted it in the first place. The happiest people I've met are the ones who have learned to balance self-care (which is often mistaken for selfishness) with selflessness. In other words, you can't get sugar out of an empty sugarbowl, so keep it filled.

My M-I-L bought into this sentiment wholesale, and it has lead to her becoming the sort of person who is constantly wondering and asking "where is my pie?", because on some level there is an expectaiton of mountains of pie as a reward for going without all those years.

Appropriate selfishness, that is, fundamentally taking care of herself first would have made for a much happier and healthier person.

I'm so glad that I grew up in a household where we all ate equally "good" portions, though I know my mum has, or had, a lot of the guilt/shame for not keeping a perfect house etc etc. My Dad sometimes ate our apple cores, but that's because he's strange, and hates to waste "good" apples.

Huzzah!! Why do we have to go without? Don't we DESERVE the freaking pie?!

Jo, I've forwarded your link and this wonderful post to several other friends (with full credit to you). Make mine a la mode!! and thanks

I prefer this version of motherhood:

Give your child your pie; you have fed them for today. Teach your child to make pie; and you have pie for your lifetime!

Excellent post by excellent woman.

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