With apologies for a long silence we are pleased to deliver to you a beautiful dispatch from a particularly enlightened mother on one of the more trying episodes of parenthood. Cold and flu season is upon us, and whether or not we enforce our prophylactic measures perfectly, vaccinations and clean hands and keeping ears covered seem not to hold all of the magical power this year I expect from them. So fear not, read on, stay strong, and just remember: this too will pass.
It has taken three Aprils and nearly as many Mays for me to feel like I’m getting the hang of living in Britain, for it to feel like home. Along with the obvious (time passed, friendships formed, residence herein), uncountable little things contribute: bookstore selections, snack aisles of grocery stores, television program(me)s.
Cover image is a screenshot of the Barbican website: Hyde Park, London (1953) by Cas Oorthuys is currently on view as part of Strange and Familiar.
The kitchen is the most beautiful, brightest, best-smelling room in my house. Like a good Dutch flower painting, all stages of life are on display. It lends itself perfectly to A Grazing Lunch, one of the great pleasures of an unruly kitchen - or simply of being home at lunchtime. But sometimes there's cause to work a little harder, to knead too.
An easy way to feel rather proud of yourself, especially while desperately trying to get a child to eat solid foods from a spoon, is to make something nice that you actually wouldn’t mind eating yourself. Because, oh yes, there will be leftovers. But hopefully not as many as you fear.
I really do regret my absence from these pages, which is equal parts unintentional and belabored. But it seems like for the couple of months, maternity leave has for me meant that I think about writing, make three pages of inarticulate scribbles during her morning nap, and among other things try to feed a baby who has intermittently eaten well and refused to allow food to pass between her tiny little lips. I am horrified/delighted that Ines will probably always be stubborn and opinionated and generally a tough customer (what do you do about teenagers?) and horrified, period, that I have let this one little thing - eating solids - consume me. As with all completely normal baby-related experiences and feelings, I feel like I am facing a dramatic, unique problem, one which lies far outside of language.
Coming home with a baby for the first time was a completely overwhelming experience. I hadn't been around one at all since my teenage babysitting days. So there I was, too afraid to let Henry cry to take a proper shower, let alone change into a shirt without spit up caked on the shoulder. And I found myself feeling completely untended. So one vain day, I decided that with the right accessory I might feel more put-together.
While we are wholeheartedly in favor of the loveliest night things money can buy, and the crisp, perfect sleep they afford, there is an equally important place in our hearts and beds for the softest, oldest, humanest and most comforting ones, as well.
Continuing our theme of Moms Writing About Sleep and to close out the month, Lydia's mom sends us a dispatch from the Department of After-Midnight Snacking.
Do you wake up at 2:36 a.m.? Do you thrash about in bed like a crocodile, or alternately attempt to lie perfectly still while scrolling through important stories on your phone, such as “750 Hollywood Stars Who Have Aged Really, Really Badly” or “63 Egregious Tattoo Misspellings”? Or do you sometimes just play 100 hands of iPhone solitaire while not sleeping?
I admit to being guilty of all the above - to being seduced by the blue light emitted by my phone screen, and then held hostage by it, as the hours tick by. Luckily, however, I've discovered there is a cure for sleepless nights like this, and it doesn't necessarily have to sound like "Ambien dependency."
Image: Midnight Snacking Attire via Pinterest
Maggie Nelson's The Argonauts is a philosophy of motherhood, particular to Nelson's experience and delivered with special care for the limns that define it: conception, pregnancy, labor, maternal finitude. Nelson does not generalize, and asks her reader to respect her limits. So the only way I can think to talk (let alone to write) about The Argonauts is to make it about myself, too: this is how I read it. I highly recommend rushing off to get your own copy, but not to expect the world from it.
Olympia Monthly is proud to present you with the first edition of our advice + etiquette column, DEAR DIANA. This month’s question is apt indeed for our resident goddess of childbirth, the moon, and the hunt. Also, knowing how babies appear to bend time while you’re looking at them, we also think it’s an appropriate Q for our Time Zones Issue. We hope you enjoy...
In February, pregnant and in bed with a cold, I fell head first into my first Persephone Book*. One of the small press’s handful of Classics, The Home-Maker was originally published in 1924. The author, Dorothy Canfield Fisher, was a New England novelist (and wife, and mother). And rather than a feminist, a self-declared advocate for children. Ninety years later, her message remains sweet as ever.
In French the same word for grey means tipsy, buzzed, a little bit drunk. The unlimited space between black and white is sometimes flushed, warm, dizzying, bright. The first glass of champagne (if you’re drinking more than that). The rush of a great height. An intoxicating kiss. Looking up at the undersides of leaves, at the bright spring sky.