I’m starting to get it, this notion that parenting is hard. Thing is, the parenting part is actually pretty easy. I have an extraordinarily easy baby that pretty much does nothing but sleep and laugh. Taking care of him isn’t the hard part. It’s the Everything Else-ness of parenting that sucks it right out of me.
I feel thwarted a lot lately. Just completely clotheslined. I’m getting a lot more sleep than most of my new mom peers (actually probably more than all of them, some of them combined, even). But whether I’m getting four hour chunks or six hour chunks is moot – it’s still not enough to feel caught up energetically. My body aches like it did when I was a swimmer – my neck and shoulders down to the small of my back are stuck in the can’t-stretch-it-out twighlit exhaustion that comes from incessant bending and scooping a 25lb nestling. Being the kind of playful, engaged mother that Zephyr deserves takes 90% of my energy. The other 10% of my energy goes toward making sure we don’t live in a complete fucking hovel (having four elderly, barfing, shedding cats is a major source of my thwarting). There are some sacrifices I am just unwilling to make, and I’m okay with the fact that I am a little OCD about keeping my house clean in the attempt to feign a little order in my life. But this leaves me completely tapped out.
From which reserves, then, do I dip when I need to keep up with all of my other expectations? I want to sew quirky soft toys to sell on etsy, I want to be a genius at writing, I want to be a dedicated scientist, I want to maintain relationships with cool women that I respect (on bases other than that our children are the exact same age and developmental milestone), I want to read the stack of books on my nightstand, I want to forage for wild mushrooms. I used to have enough room in my life for all of these things, but lately I find myself relying on frozen food (my own, but still), pizza calls, runs to the Korean deli.
I don’t know what to make for dinner.
This one hits me a little harder than the other impotency. I’ve spent the better part of the last several years being the Food Person, and this part of my identity – a major part – is slipping away a little. I just don’t have much interesting to talk about these days.
Oh, my quince tree kicked out some fruit. That’s something. Let’s use that.
Quinces smell like roses and pineapples, all heady and intoxicating. I usually roast some, and leave some around the house to perfume the air. Here’s some quince marmalade that I made from some of the roasted quinces. It came out pretty good. It’s not perfect (just a notch below ideal tartness, though it’s not too sweet), but I can live with that. I’m going to cut myself some slack and say “at least I made it.” I canned 13 half pints of it, and even a few cute little 4 oz jars for gifting.
I picked these quinces myself, mostly from my own tree but some from behind a warehouse near my neighborhood. I roasted them until they were jasper-red (I love that they do this) and stewed them for some hours with local pears in some pear wine that was too cloying to drink. I added a little pink peppercorn to it, but I didn’t have enough for it to be noticeable. It might not be marmalade by common convention, but the word marmalade actually comes from the Portuguese word marmelo (meaning quince) and was originally used to name a quince jam. So I actually do come correct, if historically. This is pretty good smeared onto a thick slice of ham – I might could gussy up a holiday meal this way, come to think of it, or just a piece of nubby rye bread.
I also took some of this marmalade a step further: I added roasted honeycrisp apples and smeared it onto some parchment. I baked this in a low oven until it resembled something from the Silence of the Lambs wardrobe room.
This is, of course, wonderful on Manchego (the tart, fruity leather is such a good match to the nutty cheese), but it’s also excellent finely sliced on a salad of roasted beets and toasted pumpkin seeds with a walnut oil/fig balsamic vinaigrette (I also add Manchego to this salad, because of course I do).
So, this is one of the things I’ve been doing over the past few weeks. I’m doing what I can to un-staunch my creativity, but it’s really coming and going.
Now, what am I going to make for dinner tonight?