by Aurora Bordeaux
When visiting the coast with my in-laws every summer, I enjoy crabbing. I know Baby Off Board entertains a lot of overseas readers, so just in case you’re not familiar with the pastime, here’s what crabbing is (Aurora Bordeaux style):
- Step 1: Find the nastiest, most rotten-est chicken the grocer will sell you.
- Step 2: Rustle up some cheap rope and a net.
- Step 3: Leave the chicken out in the bone melting heat all day.
- Step 4: Find a dock or some shallow seawater, rig the putrefied chicken up in the rope, cast off, and wait for some good eatin’ to roll on in.
- Step 5: Leave a comment on this blog post for Aurora Bordeaux if you have a better way of doing this, since it does not always work so well.
I have three sisters-in-law, and while they are all nice, I get along with one swimmingly. We share a similar sense of humor and don’t bat an eye at dysfunction. All in all, I enjoy hanging out with her. Let’s call her Emily.
Oh yeah—did I mention Emily loves going crabbing?
Emily and I, both on the introverted side, get overwhelmed during the mayhem of family vacation, and we relish in the relative peace, quiet, and culinary rewards an activity like crabbing promises. The last two years Emily had to skip crabbing because she was 1. pregnant or, 2. wouldn’t leave her young child alone with the rest of the flock, but this year she left her toddler with grandma in the dust of her Suburban and we gunned it to the nearest swampy bit of sea. Woo hoo! Crabbing!
The air was hot, the water was muddy and cool, and as we rolled in our lines and wacked crab after crab into our cooler to the awe of passersby, we soaked up the general empowerment of getting dirty and catching our own eats. We chatted off and on about topics large and small, listened to the water lap against the dock, and stifled giggles as drunk backwoods water skiers fumbled to impress the barely clad future mothers of their oops-babies. Emily and I were having a ball.
As I ruthlessly thwacked a stubborn crustacean from my net into the ice chest, using my bare hands to pry it from the net with an innermost mustard and fearlessness that would have made even Julia Child proud, Emily, who is squeamish about actually touching the crabs, squatted nearby and watched. She got quiet, then said, “I never get to do this.”
“Do what?” I asked. Thwack, thwack, thwack.
“Me time,” she sighed. Emily’s first child has mellowed out in recent years, but she spent the first five of her life not sleeping and demanding constant attention 24 hours a day. Her second child, though cute, is no easier than the first. Emily’s parenting style is her own and I’m not going to judge the way she handles her kids, but it’s true that she seems to have absolutely no time to herself.
I pondered this. For me, crabbing is a fun break from extended family time and a general summer treat, but “me time” is not a foreign concept in my life. I enjoy crabbing, sure, but I also enjoy lots of other things. Reading. Streaming television show marathons. Baking cookies or walking to buy fresh bread whenever the mood strikes. Walking Bosco and Charminator. Zipping off to the post office for stamps. Working. Volunteering. Fighting with favorite partners at krav maga. Every life has its obligations, but I enjoy the heck out of most things I do.
Basically, all time is me time. I do what I want.
We hauled in 11 snapping crustaceans that afternoon, but the story of the crisis that occurred when we sat down to eat them is another tale for another day. Tune in soon, Off Boarders, for the yarn about how my other sister in law and her kids all but ruined our fruits of the sea. Toodles!