Although I have been a mother for going on 39 years now, I still face Mother’s Day with mixed feelings. I just don’t feel like I’m quite up to Hallmark card standards. I guess I’m still waiting for the “real mother” to show up and reveal me as an imposter. I cringe when I remember some of the things I did in my capacity as mother – either from ignorance, poor judgement or sheer exhaustion. I comfort myself with the fact that I raised seven truly wonderful human beings so I must not have done anything too egregious. I did bring one trait to motherhood that served me very well and that is – I’m not afraid of snakes, spiders or rats. You would be surprised how handy this particular trait comes in when you’re raising six sons and one adventurous daughter. Snakes are not in the least bit slimy and are actually quite beautiful to behold. Tarantulas, unlike their hyped up movie persona, are not vicious eight legged demons, lying in wait for an unsuspecting Two Legs to walk by so they can attack. They are quite gentle, shy even, and would prefer to just be left alone to their spiderly ways. And rats are probably one of the best pets you can let your children have. They are intelligent, clean and altogether better natured than the nasty little hamsters that dominate the rodent pet market. One of my defining moments in life came as a result of one of my children, Austin and his pet boa constrictor, Grendyl. The uninitiated among you may not realize that when it comes time to shed their skin, snakes go through a lot of stress. This has something to do with their eyesight being compromised in the process – I never did quite understand the mechanics of the situation – and they can get a little testy. The dutiful adoptive snake parent may at times have to assist in the skin shedding process by bathing the snake so that the skin will shed more rapidly. One time Grendyl, who was rather large, was having a particularly difficult time shedding and Austin asked me late one Saturday night to help him. So we ran a tub full of water and plopped six feet of grumpy boa constrictor in. Austin went off to get something and as I sat there tending Grendyl I had an epiphany of sorts: It is midnight and I am bathing a boa constrictor. In my bathtub. How. Did. I. Get. Here? When you contemplate motherhood as a sweet young thing, that just isn’t the kind of future you envision – bathing a boa constrictor at midnight. But in the end, it is those moments – unanticipated, unplanned and sometimes even unwanted – that bring the sweetness and immeasurable joy to family life. So, to my children, thank you for the chance to bathe boa constrictors, to spend sleepless nights rocking your feverish little bodies, to see you dressed up for dances – looking so grown up that my heart broke, and also to see you dressed up in a gorilla suit jumping out at unsuspecting motorists when they stopped at the corner. And everything else, the everyday mundanities of motherhood that add up to a life that I have enjoyed living and look back on with pleasure. Nothing much that I planned on but everything that I needed. I love each of you with my whole heart.
Now along about now you are probably expecting a recipe for apple pie. Sorry. Apple pie is the rightful domain of my wonderful mother-in-law (Happy Mother’s Day, Mom!) and my sister-in-law, Charlotte (Happy Mother’s Day, Char!) My apple pie doesn’t hold a candle to theirs. And besides, when you’re bathing a boa constrictor nothing will do but a heavy dose of chocolate.
1 cup butter
1/3 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
2 cups sugar
2 tsp vanilla extract
1 1/2 cups flour (a gluten free flour mix works well in this recipe for those whose digestive system balks at gluten)
pinch of salt
1/2 cup chopped nuts
10.5 oz pkg miniature marshmallows
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease a 9 x 13 pan. In a large saucepan over medium heat, melt the butter. Remove from heat and stir in the cocoa until smooth. Mix in the sugar, eggs and vanilla. Mix in the flour and salt and then fold in the pecans and half the marshmallows. Spread evenly in the prepared pan. Bake for 25 to 30 minutes, until the brownies start to pull away from the sides of the pan. Take out of oven and dump the rest of the marshmallows over the brownies. As the marshmallows melt, spread them around. Let cool in pan.
1/3 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
1/2 cup butter
4 cups confectioners sugar
1 tsp vanilla
1/3 cup milk
In a medium saucepan, melt the butter. Add the cocoa and stir until blended. Mix in the confectioners sugar and vanilla. Gradually beat in the milk, a tablespoonful at a time until frosting is a good spreading consistency. Frost the brownies.