|Jackson, aka Whiskers|
"I brought a casserole," I said, and then immediately added, "I'm such a middle-aged mom."
"That's the best kind of mom!" they said. "You're seasoned."
|A frog that, amazingly, actually grew from the tadpole that Caleb brought home from our friends' pond, which now lives in our pond, built with much perseverance by Jason.|
|Also turtles that Jason Ryan brought from their lake--six turtles, which have dwindled to five after one succeeded in running away. Forget all you've heard about turtles being slow.|
They were astonished and thrilled that I brought dinner when I showed up to spend the day with little Whiskers. You didn't have to do that.
I know I didn't, but I was delighted to pop a casserole in the oven with a baby on my other hip. Why? I think because it is so good to feel competent.
Believe you me, I spent many years feeling domestically incompetent. I bumbled my way through early marriage, first-time motherhood, second-time motherhood, the toddler years, diapers, breastfeeding, juggling multiple ages... Trying to figure out what to cook for dinner, only to burn it and cluelessly wonder what to do with the leftover bits that didn't go in the recipe. Crying and/or panicking when my baby cried. Being at a complete loss as to how to go grocery shopping. Rushing to the hospital for harmless bumps and missing the signs of a life-threatening asthma attack.
That's not a good feeling.
|All that's left of our runaway: the tragic trail to horrible freedom.|
We've survived the toddler and preschool years, and it's been a while since I burned dinner, but I still feel incompetent about a vast number of things.
Keeping the house clean.
Going to the DMV.
Thinking rationally about covid.
Accordingly, when presented with an opportunity to care for a baby and cook dinner--two feats that I realize only now that I've actually mastered--and that at cost of years of hard struggle--I accepted rejoicing.
Thus, my dears, however much the casserole meant to you after your first long day back at work after maternity leave (and I imagine it meant a lot, having been the recipient of many a casserole myself), as I contemplate the years of trial and failure and painfully incremental learning, resulting in today's ability to cheerfully whip up a dinner with a baby on one hip, I realize now and assure you the casserole means much more to me.