Thursday, April 22, 2010

Cooking for two

My life is centered around the child and has been since I discovered his existence. What I ate fed him for almost 18 months. We were one cohabitational entity for nine months and then split in two... and we've been growing apart in some ways ever since, but growing closer in others. It is what it is.

I started slowly substituting formula for breast milk when James was about 8 months old, because he was going to daycare, my milk was starting to dry up, and when we moved for the final time last year (five times in a year) we had to throw out a whole lot of the supply I'd laid in of frozen breast milk because our new-to-us freezer is incredibly small. When he got to 9 months, we stopped breast feeding entirely.

This was sad in some ways, but joyful in others. I had my breasts back to myself! Of course, they're not the same shape that they were and my rib cage is slightly bigger, so none of my bras fit perfectly anymore... but they're mine to do with as I please again. Ha! The sadness was centered around the bittersweet idea that my son is another step closer to being independent of me.

It's more trouble to carry around packets of formula, bottles, and wonder about water purity and temperature. Breast feeding means no bottles, almost no clean up, and it's always the right thing for the child. It's also an intimate experience. From my body to yours. What I eat is processed by my body, almost by magic, so that my child can be sustained by it. It's a strange experience, almost holy in a way... and then you get bitten a few times, and your nipples get chapped or crack or bleed or get infected, and then you're like, "THIS IS HELL," except for the peaceful look on your child's face, eyes closed, fully intent, your bodies in a gentle rhythm of breathing and giving and receiving life. I swear, I fell in love with my child a hundred times when he ate till full and then gently fell away from my breast asleep in my arms. There were times when feeding him was so painful that I cried, but for my son, I would do anything and I was glad that I could feed him myself for at least a few months.

Spooning food into his eager mouth was fun, too... once we got over the initial refusal of all solids as being "of the devil" as evinced by screams and cries of horror from the child. :) He's been pretty easygoing and not picky with most foods once he realized that they were food.

A few weeks ago, James started refusing to eat his oatmeal or any other mushy baby food type thing (unless it was fruit which is pretty sweet, and even that he complained about a bit). I knew it was time to move him up to chunkier foods and even to let him eat grownup people food and feed himself. I'd known it was getting close for a while, but it was hard to let go. I really enjoy feeding the child, connecting with him through food. There's a sense of accomplishment when we finish something.

It's okay though, because now we've got something better going on.

I'm learning to cook, for real. I don't have a whole lot of time when I get us home from work/ daycare, but I've been learning to throw healthy food together and I've been cooking food for his lunches/ daytime meals at night. We definitely eat some scrambled eggs and toast and cut up fruit. It's easy and super fast. But we also eat things like steak, mashed potatoes (with a little skin left in), and asparagus. It may not be fancy cooking, but I'm using fresh, organic, and locally grown ingredients as much as possible. I never took so much time selecting my own food or thinking about balancing fruits and veggies or serving sizes and things. I've always liked the idea of being a foodie, and now, with my son as my copilot and taste-tester, I am finally really becoming one.

Watching him eat the food I make and enjoy it, when he does, is a tremendous feeling. It's accomplishment that I did something he likes, that he's capable of feeding himself, and that I'm doing something healthy for him. In that vein, I'm wondering if anyone has any ideas for super simple, fast recipes or cookbooks, especially things that both babies and adults could eat? I'm still kinda just winging it for now. :)


  1. Not sure if you own a slow cooker or not, but it's a great easy healthy alternative that should be able to feed you both.

    Throw some beans and rice (probably no peppers or anything b/c of James) and they'll be ready when you get home....or soups. There are tons of great slow cooker recipes out there.

  2. I know that a lot of people do not like her, but really Rachel Ray's 30 Minute Meals are life-savers. You can find a lot of the cookbooks out there. Also, I have a few good magazines with quick recipes for kids and/or recipes for two. I'll copy a few and send them to you.