Can you hear me, quietly, sheepishly tiptoeing back to the land of the living? the land of the writing, blog posting, full sentence making? I've been honing my skills creeping around my apartment avoiding the landmines of creaky floorboards in a one bedroom housing a sleeping infant, so perhaps i've snuck in here unnoticed. Which is just fine, since I have to admit I've been a little terrified of sitting down to write anything touching on my past four months (already?!) as a new mother. You see, I understand the fact that I am now, technically, a Mother to a small person who lives in our apartment, despite the Husband and I frequently turning to each other, slightly confused, to ask when her parents are coming to pick her up. I get that she is my child, carries my DNA along with a hint of my smile emerging on a face which so strikingly resembles her handsome father. I get that I carried her for nine months (who could forget), and will absolutely never ever forget the day she announced her arrival ten days early, insistently, quickly, willfully, almost, but thankfully not quite in a taxicab in midtown manhattan traffic. (And I will never forget the ridiculously delicious burger from here that was delivered to my hospital room two hours after I gave birth. Gotta love NYC. And my husband, the best doula anyone could ever ask for.) I will forever remember the sensation of this brand new, tiny person, being placed on my chest and instantly, as if to say, 'man, it was cramped in there!' straightening her spindly long legs to do a full downward dog with a strength no one-minute-old should possess. She has hardly stopped moving since, and at four months old, is determined to prove to us that were it not for gravity, she would be standing already, strong chunky wrinkled thighs planted firmly on my lap. And yet, for all of this, I still can't quite wrap my brain around the fact that I am now, A Mother. I suspect some seasoned vets out there might say this takes a lifetime of readjusting and learning continually as the job description shifts daily without notice.
|She's developed a taste for whale tail.|
Four months later, we are forging our way as a little trio, and I've slowly returned to the kitchen. I'm learning to take off some training wheels, little by little, tiny victory by tiny victory. I'm learning to mother the way I've learned to feed my baby, slowly, patiently, with faith, and a lot of support from the village. I still love (and often need) deliveries of food and help, whether from seamless.com (I should own stock) or relatives, but I'm also back to cooking for my family. Baking, even. Which feels particularly impressive since it involves reading, measuring, and math, indicating that I am, finally, getting a bit more sleep.
And so it continues. Each day we wake up far too early, to the sounds of squealing and grunting and kicking from the crib in the corner of our room and a round face that beams fresh each morning when she spots me up above, no matter that my hair is matted to my head and my shirt stained. And each day we do our best, gobbling up each giggle and gurgle like there's an infinite supply, feasting on chubby toes and leftover late night thai, and indulging in cuddles and cake and the occasional anxious, overtired, insecure cry. And each day I try on this new title of Mother, noting how the shape of my body and heart and soul have changed a little here, a little there, so it requires tugging and pulling, adjusting and altering. And the thing I've realized is, our daughter doesn't really care if it fits perfectly. And if that's not reason enough to go on and have another slice of cake, I don't know what is.
**One of the major mom victories I've had thus far was solving the mystery of our two month old's near constant crying, nightly meltdowns, and love/hate relationship to eating, by discovering that she is sensitive to dairy. As in, I can't eat dairy because she can't eat dairy. Which sucks for me, but honestly, the trade-off is worth it. And I'm finding some satisfying substitutes for the things I miss (nothing can replace cheese, sadly), including this cake, a vegan olive oil cake. Meg, from my fiction group, first made this for us, before I was dairy free, and I was amazed that a vegan dessert could be so delicious. Better yet, it's not only vegan, but subs maple syrup for refined sugar, so you can really feel virtuous when you eat half the cake. And best of all, for those of us who have limited time, whether between diaper change and bath time or between rehearsal and sleep, this is pretty much the easiest thing ever, involving two bowls and a whisk.**
Chloe Coscarelli's Lemon Olive Oil Cake (from Chloe's Vegan Desserts)
2 Cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 Cup extra-virgin olive oil
3/4 Cup Maple Syrup
3/4 Cup water
1/4 Cup lemon juice
2 Tablespoons lemon zest (about 2 lemons)
1 Tablespoon lemon extract
Powdered sugar and/or fresh berries for garnish
Preheat oven to 350. Lightly grease a bundt pan
In a large bowl, whisk together flour, baking soda, baking powder, and salt. In a separate bowl, whisk together oil, maple syrup, water, lemon zest and juice, and lemon extract. Pour the wet mixture into the dry mixture and whisk until just combined. Do not overmix.
Fill the prepared Bundt pan evenly with batter. Bake for about 30 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the caek comes out dry with a few crumbs clinging to it. Rotate halfway through the baking time. Cool the cake completely before unmolding.
Garnish with powdered sugar and berries.