I wrote my law school application essay about white (as opposed to orange) cheddar cheese. I don’t remember exactly what I wrote: something about community and knowing where one’s food comes from and what’s in it and my longing to get back to New England where the cheddar is white and all is right with the world. It seems kind of ridiculous now, but it must have impressed the admissions committee, since they gave me a scholarship.
All of this is a segue to this picture, taken today during Hank’s lunch:
That’s right, folks: I fed my boy orange cheese. Not even local orange cheese, if indeed such a thing exists: orange, processed almost beyond recognition, wrapped in plastic, no doubt chock full of nasty preservatives…. Oh, the shame! But he likes it, and it’s easy.
A significant part of the journey of parenthood is learning how to prioritize and manage expectations, and then to forgive ourselves our inevitable shortcomings. Yeah, we’d have loved to be the kind of moms who make all our own baby food, who know a zillion cool and crafty activities to do with kids of all ages, who are organized enough to keep a clean house and a soothing and enriching child-rearing routine… but we’re not.
We managed to live up to some of the aspirations we had before Hank was born, certainly. We cloth diaper, though lots of people warned us it would be a ton of work. (It isn’t, but here’s my secret: I actually like to do laundry–don’t tell anyone.) We’ve started potty training, with some success, though everyone says it’s way too early. We read to Hank a lot, and between the two of us, we know a lot of nursery songs.
Our boy is happy and thriving, so I try to let go of guilt over our messy house, the dubious nutritional value of orange cheese sticks, and the dozen or so things I ought to be doing right now to take advantage of the quiet hour while my son naps. I will do none of those things, and when he wakes, I will still have work e-mails to reply to, and the dishes will still be dirty, the floors will still need cleaning, the laundry will not be done. I will stay here where I am, on the couch with my boy in my lap, typing with one hand with the laptop precariously balanced on the arm of the sofa, because there will always be more e-mails, more dishes, more cleaning, more laundry. These quiet moments with my sweet little monkey snoring softly, warm and heavy in my arms — these moments are fleeting and so much more important.