This morning, it is my absolute pleasure to introduce to you Emily Wight of well fed, flat broke. Emily and I met through our experience of being named Vancouver’s Top Mom Bloggers of 2012 and I must say, her writing definitely gets real, honest-to-goodness lol’s from me. Even when she’s talking about the horrible flu she’s fighting that has now, unfortunately, spread through the house. I have to give her kudos for dropping this gorgeous, inspiring post in my mailbox in time for me to share it with you today. If you are a new mom, this is a must-read. It will remind you that there are ways you can fuel your passions and enjoy quality time with your baby. A great experience for both of you.
Without further ado, please welcome Emily!
I used to think that writing was just something you did because there were all these words that got knotted up between the synapses in your brain and if you didn’t find a way to barf those words out in some constructive way your system would break down over time until you could no longer operate in the world. I had Very Important Things to say and record, and I made time for writing because I had to.
I also write because I am emotionally constipated – I prefer to remain neutral unless something is really maddening or hilarious. The only way other than writing that I feel comfortable expressing my feelings is through food, and so while I spent my days at school learning to write, I spent my nights at home learning to cook. I probably can’t tell you that I love you and value our friendship in words, but I can feed you. I learned to cook because I wanted to cook for other people. When I feed myself I eat sandwiches.
And then I had a baby, which I hadn’t planned on doing. I knew the kind of mother I was going to be from the outset – a delightful combination of Lucille Bluth and Auntie Mame was what I had in mind – and that my interests would still be important to me and I would make time for them. But babies take over your whole world for a little while, and there came a time when writing felt narcissistic, when taking time to indulge in something I had always seen as so vital to who I was felt selfish. And I was too tired to cook.
This was, of course, completely devastating, and totally out of character. Who was I to take time for myself when there was this human thing who needed me? And why wasn’t this fulfilling? Was I a terrible person? I was told that life with a newborn would be hard. But I didn’t find it hard; babies follow a fairly predictable routine of eat, sleep, and eliminate, and I was lucky that mine didn’t present any real challenges.
But babies are not designed to be intellectually stimulating.
It wasn’t him, of course, though all our conversations were completely one-sided. It was entirely on me to make this experience worthwhile, to find the meaning it in and write something honest.
In the meantime, we needed to eat. Spouse and I were eating a lot of take-out and lazy meals. My range had shrunk to pasta and the occasional pot of soup or chilli. Dinner was no longer an exercise in creativity; it had become a chore. To remedy this, and to give my day some purpose, every morning I would strap the baby into the Bjorn and we would saunter down to Granville Island where we would pick the ingredients that would inspire dinner. One day it was prawns and Andouille; another it was galangal, Meyer lemons and purple basil. I would describe things to him as we walked, pointing out the glossy braided Challah and the Rainier cherries stacked in golden pyramids, and I would tell him how everything tasted, and in what season he would taste each flavour at its peak.
We toured the bakery, the wine store, the lobster shop, and Rogers Chocolates, and the whole way I would describe the meals he’d eat one day when he had teeth. I told him about the first meal I made for his Dad, a sausage and Yorkshire pudding dish called Toad in the Hole, and how my Dad would make it for me for dinner, and how my Grandma would make it for me and her dog and how on her dog’s birthday she would make Toad in the Hole AND lemon pudding because that was the dog’s favourite meal, and how I have never thought it odd that the dog had a favourite meal. I told him about all my family’s specialties and Spouse’s family specialities, and about the cultures we came from and the culture Spouse and I made up and brought him into, and soon all the stories came back and I had something to write about again.
I made a little time for the food blog I’d neglected, and started piecing together the essays I hope will someday form a culinary memoir – a literary cookbook, maybe. Writing is an indulgent, selfish thing; it is an inherently narcissistic practice driven by the potentially misguided belief that you have a story to tell and that you deserve as much uninterrupted time as possible in order to do it. But some people need to write, because their brains won’t work right if they don’t see their thoughts typed out in front of them. Writing and cooking and writing about food have become a way to untangle my knots and to tell the stories I want to pass down and share the recipes I hope the baby will grow up to tell his own stories about.
I hope he follows the recipes and shares his meals with friends and that the thing that made each meal special for him growing up finds its way into the food he prepares for other people. It’s written in each of them, though one might not be able to see it at first. If I have taught him correctly, he’ll find it.
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