My Pureed Identity
By Lisa Talbot
A warm, salty tear dropped from my eye to the crescent of my upper lip.
I was going today.
I glanced at the clock, it was 5:34 PM, and I had less than 90 minutes until bedtime. My eyes darted to the rearview mirror and I saw my 6-month old daughter Nehara, cooing from the back, batting at the Hungry Caterpillar that hung from her car seat. She was so unaware of the failure, panic, and self-doubt that I was having inches away. As the car continued down the street so did my tears, they started casually streaming just like usual.
I felt my mouth open and swallow a bunch of air. My mind ticked; I could go home. I could try another day. I could give making my own baby food one more go. I could order equipment from amazon and that would help.
But I’d thought all of this before.
This was not the mother I thought I was going to be.
That I had planned to be.
But this was the mother I was.
I had this image of the mom I was supposed to be and this struggle wasn’t part of it.
Plenty of moms don’t make baby food. I’m a good mom, so why was I feeling like such a failure?
In the grocery store parking lot, I collected myself and grabbed Nehara, and headed inside. I navigated the aisles and landed in front of rows of pureed carrots, organic peas, potatoes, and mangos.
The choices were endless and my tears made way for laughter.
I’d spent the last four Saturdays rushing to get to the farmers market, before the crowds, fighting for a decent parking spot, making sure Nehara wasn’t too cold or too hot in the front pack, just to pick out the best looking eight dollar organic sweet potato, so I could come home and bake it for an hour, puree it, and have Nehara strong-arm it away from her mouth. Or take one lick and be over it. And two days later I’d throw the majority away.
I know there are ways to freeze the leftovers or purchase pouches, but in the 90 minutes that I have from picking her up from daycare and getting her in bed, the whole making baby food had become such an anxiety-inducing chore.
I couldn’t do it.
I started to resent the limited time I had with her. I’d negotiated my work schedule to have every Friday off to spend more time with her, and here I was considering changing back to a 5-day-a-week schedule to come home early and be a better puree mom.
This wasn’t the mom I thought I’d be.
I had imagined I’d breastfeed until my child was at least one year old (or longer if they would let me). But, I wasn’t able to breastfeed enough to support her. Even after hours with consultants and doulas and support groups. And after a week of using donor milk, I switched to formula.
I also thought I’d be a thrift store, second-hand shopping mom. I attended the largest second-hand children’s event and bought nothing. The items I needed were worn and the prices weren’t any cheaper then what I’d find with coupons and sales.
And now the last piece.
I thought I’d make homemade purees with ease and Nehara would devour them with delight.
She did none of this; in fact, she hated purees even after I purchased them. But for 79 cents it was a relief. I was able to enjoy the short time I had with her every night and wasn’t hurt when I threw 90% of it down the garbage disposal. And since, we’ve gone on to baby-led feeding with solid foods.
I found she enjoyed feeding herself better than when I was forcing purees. Of course. She is her mother’s child.
The transition to motherhood and my changing identity has come in waves. Moments of disbelief and pure joy, and moments of stress and anxiety. The ideas that I had of motherhood are slowly becoming less important, primarily while I see the largest smiles on Nehara’s face – the scrunched nose smiles – which are my favorite – and I realize that regardless of the mother I thought I’d be, I’m still the best mom for Nehara.
And we are finding our groove. Together.