Shrimp with Tomato and Feta

roasted shrimp with tomatoes and feta cheese

“The moment a child is born, the mother is also born.  She never existed before.  The woman existed, but the mother, never.  A mother is something absolutely new” Rajneesh


I never needed my mother more than the very first day I became a mother.

The day I delivered my daughter Maddy (who’s now 13!), I worked from 8:00a-6:00p and complained of cramps from 8:00a-6:00p.

How was I supposed to know I was in labor?

It was two weeks before my due date and I had never had labor pains before.  It was also the hottest day on record for April 17th, 2002.  The mercury rose to 92 degrees and unfortunately for me, I was only outfitted in maternity clothes appropriate for winter and early spring.

So, stretching a regular-sized small tank top over my 9-month pregnant belly was not an easy task.  Hence the cramps all day, right?

Fast-forward to 11:35p (that same day). I was holding my very healthy, beautiful, blue-eyed baby girl. And, one day later, I headed home panicked that I had a beautiful blue-eyed baby that was MINE.

MINE to bathe.  MINE to feed.  MINE to console.  MINE. MINE. MINE. MINE. MINE.


I was the youngest of three.  I was always the one babied.  Even when I was leaving for college, my mom packed with/for me (ask my sister if she packed for her).  Reluctantly I took my baby out of the car in her little snap-n-go, traveled up to my apartment carrying the “unwieldy load,” opened the door, and in that moment everything calmed.

I was engulfed by the sweetest smells.

The music playing.

The nursery set and read-to-go–and Mom in the kitchen.

Thanks to Mom –Mommy Poppins—I felt coddled, comforted, safe and more primed to face my newest challenge: motherhood.

She committed herself to be my confidante, post-partum punching bag, chef, shoulder-to-cry on, stroller walking partner, dirty-diaper changer and much more for my first two weeks home.  Two weeks of advice, comfort, wisdom and companionship with a very healthy newborn.  For those two weeks I felt more like a very lucky daughter than a new mother.

It’s strange to think that certain food smells can be reassuring.

I remember the sweet tomatoes and garlic wafting from the stove and how they immediately made me sense Mom’s presence the moment I crossed the threshold of our door.  These smells confirmed to me that I was going to be okay—at least for the two weeks Mom was staying with me.

Mom’s Shrimp with Feta and Tomato Sauce was all we needed for our “first meal.” It pre-empted  any type of potential stress associated with parenthood.  That night, we only relished in the good food being served rather than on the fear associated with the parental unknown.

That civilized meal earmarked our first night home as new parents about to begin our uncharted journey.

I decided to cook Mom’s Shrimp with Tomato and Feta dish for our first weekend night home alone as a family of two without my daughter and son who left for sleep away camp for 7 weeks!

I needed to cook something soothing and obviously this dish came to mind.  I was thrilled that I had all the ingredients on hand except for the shrimp.  The prep time was a breeze but equally emotional as I envisioned Mom prepping this meal in my apartment kitchen, anticipating my arrival from the maternity ward.

Shrimp prepped and waiting….

It wasn’t until I was staring down at my own skillet bubbling full of the familiar ripe tomatoes, garlic, shrimp and wine sauce that I felt transported back to April 2002– when I first crossed into my apartment not just as someone’s daughter but as a mother too.

The meal is always bittersweet for me as it is a constant reminder of  how intense it is has been for me to be a mother without having my own mother.

Mom and my daughter - although sick with only a cold at that point, nothing would stop her from helping out.

Mom and my newborn (circa 2002) – although sick with only a cold at that point, nothing would stop her from helping out.



  1. Torrey Shawe says:

    This sounds so yummy and your story is nothing less than lovely. There is nothing like the support of mom when becoming a mom for the first time. Thanks for this, Shari.

  2. thanks for reading. hope you make the recipe. it truly is delicious!

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