Baking Kept Me Sane During Those First Few Years of Motherhood

Is there a chance in hell that I could be more excited to have my first piece up on Epicurious(!)? No fucking way.

It is not an understatement to say that baking kept me from going nuts when my baby was born. And as anyone who’s had my banana bread/chocolate chip cookies/scones/granola thrust upon them–and I do mean thrust–already knows, it still does, and my baby is no longer a baby (sobsobsobsobsob). What is it about baking that is so soothing, so life-affirming, so, well, joyful?

Read on to find out. Then please, please share your favorite recipes with me.

xo

I Took Plan B. Thank you, Planned Parenthood.

Sometime in the not so distant past, I needed to take the morning-after pill. I was a 38-year-old mother of a three-year-old; I was in a stable marriage. We both had advanced degrees and careers, and had planned out my first pregnancy with charts and ovulation kits. Most of my friends were onto their second children. I was, in other words, not necessarily the kind of woman you might picture when you think of Plan B.

Screen Shot 2017-01-13 at 10.18.30.pngRead on at Motherwell Magazine.

On Baby #2

The jealousy peaked when the second round of pregnancy announcements started to roll in. By then my daughter was 2 and I was 37, but neither my husband nor I had broached the subject of a second child. Instead, my tactics were cheap, comments lobbed at inopportune moments: I mentioned my (old) age and boy names I liked, and reminded him that we had to “get it done” before we left Europe, our temporary (family-friendly) home. When I got salmonella poisoning from eating bad chicken, I secretly hoped my symptoms meant I was pregnant. My husband prayed they didn’t.

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Our avoidance of the discussion, followed by our inability to agree on trying for another, was heartbreaking. It seemed to symbolize some fundamental rift in our marriage: Almost everyone we knew had — or was trying for — more than one child. Why couldn’t we handle it, too?

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I wrote this whopper for The Cut. Please read on here.

The Secrets We Keep

It’s October! Which means that two years ago (!), right around this time, I thought I had the stomach flu found out that I was pregnant. It was a pretty miserable miraculous time; I felt very confused about the fact that I wasn’t supposed to share the news until I hit 12 or 13 weeks, when the pregnancy was deemed “viable.” So between watching serial episodes of The Good Wife trying to teach my students without puking, I wrote about it.

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This week, the Archipelago on Medium published my essay, I’m Pregnant. So Why Can’t I Tell You? (How’s that for a direct title?) This is a subject that people have wildly differing views about (SHARE! DON’T SHARE!). The discussion about it out there in the cyber world is already mind-blowing. (I especially love the comments made by people who clearly don’t read very closely.) I’m always curious to hear what you think. xo

Happy Pesach! Or As I Like to Call It, Thanksgiving.

As most of you know, Passover is all about deprivation, although of a lesser kind than at Yom Kippur the Jews’ exodus from Egypt. It is about getting drunk and sitting through the most drawn out, hunger-inducing meal of the year eating a lot of crackers Matzoh, and forcing asking the youngest child to open the front door for a ghost or a stranger Elijah. It is about spending a long, boozy evening with your extended family, or if you live abroad, your four wonderful Jewish friends.

Over here, at our house, we also think of it as Finding Your Spouse Day.

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We think of Passover as a kind of Thanksgiving, a moment to reflect on all we are thankful for — or as a kind of Christmas (well, not as Christmas because we’re Jews, but some equivalent holiday where magical things come true and you get lots of presents, and no, Hannukah doesn’t count). In any event, it’s a significant, beautiful holiday for us. Our favorite. Proof that Hashem love and the internet are real. That one’s bashert might exist.

This morning (and by “this morning” I mean 5:30am when the sky was utterly black) when I looked at our daughter (who, by the way, has decided to no longer sleep through the night because I made an official declaration that she was doing so), I thought, Why the hell won’t you sleep through the night anymore? Thank God for Passover (minus the enslavement and exodus), because without it, you wouldn’t be here!

Seven years ago, when I still had my nice, pre-baby figure was a lonely, single New York City girl, I was Seder-less. A wonderful friend urged me to host a goy Seder. I did. Then I wrote about it. Fast forward many, many years and a random man across the world read it and wrote to me.

And now we are three.

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The short version of this story is here.

The longer one (complete with an incredibly embarrassing video) is here.

The original piece is here.

The moral of the story is: write about being single and someone might take pity on you and marry you Passover really is about finding (or, you know, giving birth to) your chosen people.

May it be a happy, healthy, beautiful one for you and yours. Next year, in Brooklyn Jerusalem!

xo

PS: We’re bringing the little lady to her first Seder tonight. Wish us luck.

 

 

 

I Finally Wrote Something With My Baby Brain

Oy, oy, oy Hello, hello, hello!

Thanks, beloved readers, for forgetting I had a blog your patience. It only took me six months, but I finally turned the computer back on birthed something other than a baby. You can read it over at the fabulous Mother Sugar. It’s about, among other things, whether this little lady in her LGTB shoes should appear here, on the blog, or let’s be honest, on Facebook anywhere else online.

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I’d love to argue with you about it hear your thoughts.

xo

The Waiting Game

What does one do at 1,000 38+ weeks pregnant? This is an honest question. I am sure I am doing something wrong. My list includes:

  • Watch reruns of Homeland and weep (over what, exactly? Brody? Carrie’s insanity?) Apply for a Fulbright.
  • Buy a diaper genie and some diapers, while I’m at it Work on the book.
  • Enjoy my last few nights of getting up to pee every hour still not being able to drink.
  • Take a long nap walk.

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Obviously I’m conflicted. Here in Austria, most women go on you’re too huge and tired to work anyway so go home Mutterschutz at 32 weeks. This means they are legally obligated to stop working — so obligated, in fact, that a friend had her phone and email shut down by the company she works for on her last day. On a scale of Austria to America, this is a wonderful thing.

To be honest, however, I’m not exactly sure what the time is for (who am I kidding? It’s for watching Homeland) but it is certainly a much-appreciated gesture that acknowledges you’d rather not go into labor at work how much your life has already changed, with a nod toward the fact that it’s about to change a hell of a lot more. In other words, you might want to spend the next two months sleeping preparing for it.

Have I mentioned that you get paid while on this little “break”?

This is so un-American it almost makes me never want to go home uncomfortable. These days I don’t have a fulltime job, so I don’t get paid to buy a stroller this little Austrian benefit doesn’t really apply to me. But I’ve tried to go native, at least psychologically speaking.

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But it is harder than I imagined to do nothing — or rather, to accept that there is this reprieve, this break, in which you are meant to prepare for the biggest change of your life. In which you are meant to prepare by doing less. By slowing down. By putting your pregnancy, your impending motherhood, before everything else. Any mother in the world would say to me  — and many of my own friends have said — WATCH TV. SLEEP IN. REALLY. DO NOTHING. LET YOURSELF OFF THE HOOK. And yet, to misquote Colum McCann, the great world keeps on spinning, whether you’re pregnant or not. My husband goes to work every day, as he did last month and last year, and I have the nagging feeling that I should be doing the same (because back home I probably would be doing the same). But his mind hasn’t left the building He keeps writing and reading and pushing himself to get as much done before the baby comes, while I take a guilt-filled nap every afternoon.

I know that soon a leisurely day in bed will no longer be possible — but what happens next is so utterly unimaginable that it’s almost comical. I’m not even sure what metaphor would apply here. When else are you so completely on the precipice of something so hugely unknown and life-altering in so many ways? When you have to live with the mystery and wonder and instability and joy of not knowing when this will happen, and how, and who will come out the other end, and what life will look like afterwards? I keep thinking of something Cheryl Strayed wrote as Sugar about the birth of her first child: “It was a penetrating, relentless, unalterable thing, to be his mother, my life ending and beginning at once.”

What does it feel like to have your life begin and end at once?

These questions are almost too much to ponder. So instead I’m spending my time learning to bake delicious things I still can’t eat.

But I will let you know.

xo