You know when you have something really important to say to someone, and then the gravity of your own as-yet-unspoken words catches in your throat, and pretty soon it’s been weeks and you’re still living with thoughts in your brain and feelings in your heart that you somehow haven’t managed to express? And the more time that passes, the more weight your words carry as you begin to think too much about how to say them, and where to begin.
That’s how I’ve felt, for the past few weeks, about returning here.
Do I just come back, smiling, with a recipe to share, and hope that you’re still out there?
Or do I tell you that I got quite dramatically knocked off my game for what appears to be nearly three months now, and I’m only just now clawing my way up to the surface of a really challenging time in my life?
As I had shared earlier in the summer, my hubby was deployed overseas this year, and has been gone since July. I thought I was prepared for the challenges of raising our two-year-old on my own for eight months; I thought I had a game plan. And then, just two weeks after he left, we found out that we were expecting a baby.
It’s easy for me now, resplendently exploding into my maternity clothes and the second half of my pregnancy, to speak plainly about the exhaustion and revulsion that kept me out of the kitchen for months (and, let’s face it, still does, many days of the week). About my seemingly uncontrollable emotions, and worse, the way they played out as I tried to parent my girl during the most frustrating moments of toddlerhood. Most disconcertingly, there were many days and nights that I had less than no energy; I was apathetic and flat after tears had run their course and exhaustion had left my body wrought, and all I wanted to do was to close my eyes against the world.
Though I am thrilled to be pregnant, solo parenting while pregnant has been lonely and sad, exhausting and frustrating. And, those heavy emotions aside, someone who eats takeout burritos for lunch and Cheerios for supper (the two of us, perched on the couch; me, hoping I can wolf down my O’s fast enough to sneak a snooze in before the latest episode of Dora finishes) makes a piss-poor food blogger.
And so it is. Having to give up just about everything but the most essential commitments so that I can get through my days has afforded me the perspective to know the difference between what’s necessary and what’s important, what’s frivolous and what’s meaningful in my life. It released me to pay more attention to what I need to stay okay; I’ve spent more hours reading and knitting than in the glow of my computer screen lately.
For the record, things are going better now than they were. I’m finding some space to cook simple and nourishing food, ways to exercise my body, patience and tactics to parent in a way that aligns with my values, at least most of the time. The end of this deployment is firmly in sight, just in time for me to better hone my ability to say “I don’t have this. I need help.”
I’ve come back gently, with something that’s not really a recipe at all, but more of an idea. An idea, I should add, that shows its age: I conceived and photographed this in the summer when peaches were in season and when a local toastery had just opened up, demonstrating that the little city I live in may just catch on to a food trend early every so often. Nevertheless, here it is, no less tasty and perhaps somewhat seasonal, with the warmth of cinnamon sugar, or adjustable, with the addition of clementine or cranberries. Just cut butter into small cubes and throw in a bowl, adding your choice of fruit or flavour. Use your hands to kind of smoosh the ingredients together, and turn out onto a piece of parchment paper. Use the edges of the parchment to shape the butter into a log. Chill to set, and serve on toast sprinkled with cinnamon sugar.