Sourdough Misadventures

Today I remembered that I had overfilled the sourdough starter container, with the intent to use it the next day. I did not end up using it the next day. I didn’t have time. This slip would have been completely fine if I hadn’t completely forgotten about it.

This was 2 and a half weeks ago.

…………..oops.

I was reminded of the duration of the overfilled condition today when I pulled the starter out of the fridge.

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Why, yes, that hard plastic lid IS bowed out....

I tried twisting the lid a bit to test it, and, as anyone who has not spent much time lately with toddlers and/or had more than one paltry cup of caffeinated beverage could have guessed, it didn’t budge in the slightest.

The realization that I would have to pry the lid off and that the lid might break remained, unfortunately, uncolored by the corollary thought that maybe I should make the attempt to do so outside.

The good news is that I *did* manage to remove the lid and save the starter…

In a word, KABLOOIE.

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Adding this to the list of things sourdough starter and champagne have in common.

The lid didn’t just break; it shattered.

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Not all of the tiny shards were retrieved.

Globs of sourdough flew everywhere, but, somehow, happily, miraculously, they completely missed my barely-started cup of rosebud and silver needle white tea sitting next to the jar. Had my tea not been spared, there would have been tears and screaming. Instead there was only laughter tinged with hysteria and one small dog running for his life.

Maybe the experience has value as a homeschool chemistry lesson? Maybe I have learned not to overfill the starter jar? Maybe I just need to make bread more often?

Whatever.

Now please excuse me while I go clean the ceiling…

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Sourdough starter and Pancake batter have very similar consistencies. T_T

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Posted in Cooking, Misfit Adventures, Sourdough | Tagged , | 2 Comments

Parenting Truths I Learned The Hard Way

A popular definition of insanity is to repeat the same action but expect different results. Motherhood requires this. Letting your child “try” always ends in the destruction of something expensive/irreplaceable/precious to you, but you have to expect that they will get it right “next time.”

…….

The top five foods that are hardest to clean after they have started to dry even a little are:

1. Runny egg yolk.
2. Oatmeal.
3. Honey/syrup.
4. Tomato Sauce.
5. Pancake/waffle batter.

Bonus points if you’ve ever had to clean these things from a thing you can’t soak in the sink, i.e. floor/carpet, front of kitchen cabinets, the ceiling, etc.

…….

The psychological effect of a baby gate can last well past the physical effectiveness if used judiciously.

…….

Children have selective senses. They “can’t” hear you screaming to drop-and-definitely-don’t-put-in-your-mouth that disgustingly dirty, rancid-smelling, vaguely food-appearing thing they picked up on the ground at the playground, but they can hear the tiniest whisper of a youtube video from across the house through shut doors and locate your chocolate stash by smell with the accuracy of a well-trained blood hound.

…….

They are completely incapable of figuring out where they took their left shoe off. But they will become freaking Sherlock Holmes and deduce that you ate a cookie alone in the bathroom by the faint lingering smell on your breath, the tiniest crumb clinging to your shirt, and the suspicious door-shutting that happened.

…….

The first words that your kids learn how to spell are the names of the restricted items you and your spouse discreetly try to discuss eating or watching after kid bedtime (ex. ice cream or a movie).

…….

Children are adept at identifying the one word or phrase in a long complicated, even quiet, rant in a conversation with other grownups that you would never want them to repeat. They are also prone to repeating said word or phrase for the rest of the day. Bonus points if they use it correctly in a sentence. You’ll be torn between horror and pride.

…….

Even the cutest thing kids say or do is only cute in moderation.

——
What else belongs on the list?

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A Response To Regretting Motherhood

This morning I woke up to this article on my fb newsfeed. I think this is a conversation that needs to be had!

First, a note. I’m not writing for the women who don’t have children, nor for the women who never wanted children, nor for the fathers who may have similar experiences. I’m writing this as a mother who experienced profound sadness alongside the joy at becoming a mother, and is trying to know her own mind better. I speak for myself and my beliefs, and I hope that my thoughts resonate with others who may have experienced similar feelings.

I really like the way this article gets the conversation started, but I feel like it’s not quite right in the way it discusses the idea of un-wishing motherhood, so to speak.

The article speaks of the regret mothers may have over becoming a mother. The main point of the article is that mothers have trouble talking about such feelings because those feelings are considered by society to be taboo feelings to have. But I feel that there is a missing connection between the moms’ regrets for the life change and the expressed love they feel for their children regardless that is missing from the article.

And that connection is grief.

If I were to characterize how I feel about motherhood, grief would be a key factor. How can I explain what I mean?

I love my children deeply. I do not hesitate to step between them and danger. I want to make them smile in joy and delight and understanding more than anything.

But sometimes I also feel like I hate them. And I have been trying to figure out what exactly about them makes me feel this way. Is it the way they act out? Is it the way they sometimes don’t listen  until I scream? Is it that they often seem to disregard my needs? Is it the child-induced exhaustion of the last 6 years?

While I may have been naive about the degree to which these kinds of things would happen, I can’t say they were unexpected. Even considering these, I still wanted children. And, from the other side of childbearing, I’m still glad I have these little people in my life.

But do I feel some regret?

I do not feel like regret is quite the right word to express the negatives I feel alongside the positives. I would characterize regret as sorrow over lost opportunity. Maybe I lost other opportunities as a result of having children, but do I feel sad about losing those opportunities?

I can’t say I do. I can’t say I regret my past choices because those choices have made me the person I am today. Am I the best version of myself I could be? Probably not. But the perspectives I’ve gained through my life experiences, even the horrible ones, have given me new awareness of where I could be better. Seriously, how can you fix something if you don’t even realize it’s broken?

Having children has made me aware of many places where my character is lacking, moreso than anything else I’ve experienced. Children make you confront your character flaws in a ripping-off-the-bandaid kind of way. And, however painful, my character has improved for having gone through the child-bearing and child-rearing experience.

So, then, what do I feel sad about? I’ve considered this for years. What do I most miss?

I miss myself.

I had an identity for myself. They way I looked, the decisions I made, the interests I pursued, the people I spent time with, the work I did, the freedom I had…

I did not realize how abruptly nor how completely those aspects of myself would be altered. Permanently.

I want those things back sometimes. This distinction is rather fine, so bear with me. I do not feel sorrow for the opportunities I’ve lost. I do not wish I could undo becoming a mother. I do not regret the experience of parenting, however exhausting it can be.

But I do feel sad (and sometimes angry and frustrated) about the loss of what seemed to be integral parts of myself. I miss being able to go out without the complicated dance that is finding a babysitter. I miss making decisions where the only person to consider is myself. I miss being able to complete a task without having a million mostly inane rapid-fire questions constantly breaking my concentration. I miss being efficient. Geez, I even miss the privacy of my bathroom habits.

It’s like my self-identity, that which I considered important about myself, died. And what I feel about that is grief.

I am in mourning for myself.

A new self-identity slowly arose, phoenix-like, from the ashes of my former self-identity. But, even so, I struggle with letting that dead and gone vision of my previous self go.

What’s getting me here is that the only way to overcome grief is to face it. To feel it. To understand the way in which your life has been completely rocked by the loss. To be able to accept that that which was lost is never coming back.

But, as the original article pointed out, feeling sadness about becoming a mother is not allowed!

How can you face and overcome that which you aren’t allowed to admit you feel in the first place? If the five stages of grief are supposed to be denial, anger, bargaining, depression and acceptance, doesn’t it seem like society is trying to keep us in the first stage?

A particular problem with denying that there is indeed a loss that happens alongside the gain in motherhood is that we all go along assuming our previous identities.

That is, while still telling us that motherhood is the ultimate feminine purpose and satisfaction, society simultaneously expects us to handle things with the same level of support as our old selves. Societal support for a woman does not increase as her burden increases.

Consider the lack of paid family leave in the US. Women are expected to get back to business as usual as quickly as possible. Paid maternity leave is for the sake of the baby trying to adjust to life outside of the womb, but that’s usually limited to 6 weeks, if it happens at all. A 6 week old baby still needs to be held for hours and hours a day. A six week old baby has only just learned how to smile.

Paid paternity leave, on the other hand, is for the sake of the mother! She is trying to adjust to the physical and hormonal roller-coaster that is having a baby! That’s right. I said it. A part of the reason for paid paternity leave to exist is bonding with baby. Another part is rest for the new father because baby’s are exhausting. But it’s main purpose is so that the mother has the 24/7 support that gives her the space to recover. Full bodily recovery (not to a pre-pregnancy body, but, still, physical healing) from pregnancy and birth takes years. I’m not saying paid leave should last for years, but, geez, by the 6 week mark, for example, the average new mom has probably managed to have gotten, at most, 4 showers total, is probably still eating about once a day, is probably still getting woken up 2 to 4 times per night, and probably still cries over stupid stuff at least every hour.

But how common is paid paternity leave? It’s practically nonexistent in the US. Many people scoff at the idea that it’s a good idea, let alone necessary. Paid family leave is a good example of the ways in which society fails to support parenthood, let alone motherhood.

We don’t get the space to mourn properly.

As I said at the beginning, I’m glad this conversation is finally happening! I’m so over the environment of suppression that pervades the lives of women.

I’m frustrated that a rejection of the loss one can feel in becoming a mother is usually conflated with a rejection of the children themselves. The latter is NOT what is happening for women like me or the women in the above article. But the conflation of the two ideas is how society guilt-trips us into silence.

I want the space to grieve properly so that I can fully let go of my old self and move on. Among other things, this means that I want to feel the respect that doing such a hard and often thankless job deserves. I still want to be seen as a person in my own right, and not just as an enabler of my children’s success.

I want society (and my children for that matter) to recognize that my needs still matter.

Well, anyway, this is a long and rambling-ish essay on my thoughts about regret and grief and love and motherhood. I hope, as always, that I’ve contributed something insightful to the continuing human conversation. Although, I’d settle for contributing something useful…

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Tea Life

Confessional: I’m not a coffee drinker. In most circles I’ve moved in, that’s not a popular habit to have. Actually, it’s not a popular habit  to have regardless of the people I spend time with…

Taking on parenting without caffeine? It’s a no brainer.

No, really, if you try to tackle parenting without caffeine, you will have no brain left. It will turn into a squishy mass of soft bleh that your toddler will find indistinguishable from their playdough, even to the point of taking great pleasure in plastering and grinding your hopes and dreams indelibly into the carpet.

Seriously. Caffeine.

So, I have a pretty good collection of strong black teas to choose from.

But after the kids are in bed, the herbal half of the tea cabinet comes into play. Here’s tonight’s calming blend:

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Goodnight!

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One Day Of Glory

My annual sign that my backyard flowers have begun to bloom usually involves discovering the tattered remains of their former glory strewn across the deck.

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The lucky one.

The bluish purple irises are my favorite color of iris. Unfortunately, because they also seem to be my girls’ favorite, they’re also always the first to go. I don’t think a purple iris has ever made it longer than 2 days in my yard, and that’s only because the first day was likely raining.

I feel I wouldn’t mind the kids picking my flowers so much if they could at least pick enough of the stem for display in a vase.

Is that really a skill they need to be taught??

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Mother’s Day

We’ve been pretty busy so I’ve been really freaking exhausted too tired to write a post.

It’s been raining forever in the mid-Atlantic region. I cannot believe how much time it was raining. I couldn’t mow all that time (shame) so the yard is a jungle now. On the bright side (irony intended), the onions, radishes, garlic, and potatoes are growing almost as well as the grass.

We’re spending Mother’s Day weekend rearranging rooms in our house. My studio is now the playroom and the playroom is becoming my studio.

Advantages: more space, more storage, more hiding from the ki…enough advantages.

Disadvantages: We’ve been in this house for 5 years. I just finally got my studio painted a beautiful shade of blue somewhere between clear sky and shallow Caribbean sea. I waited 5 years for that paint job. The old playroom? Still the previous owner’s pastel sponge-paint that she decorated in the early 90s.

I cried a little at the thought.

But, for Mother’s Day,  I’m not just getting new space–Approachable Man agreed that the switch would come with  immediate painting!

It’s hard work, but looking good. Yaaaay!!

For the life of me, though, I can’t figure out how he comes out of painting with clean hands. I mean, who does that? Amiright? Anyone? …No? 

Oh, come on.

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This is more normal...RIGHT??

The biggest revelation today was how much the kids love their new space. They played in it nicely almost (translation: they only screamed their heads off for us every 20 minutes instead of every 30 seconds) the whole time we were painting.

It’s the small victories.

HAPPY MOTHER’S DAY!

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Weekend Report

It amazes me how much work four little braids represent, especially when your children repeatedly refuse to let you brush out their rat’s nests hair. The Wiggly Toddler was halfway to dreadlocks.

Thankfully, detangling spray is a thing.

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We've been reading The Little House books lately...clearly.

We had a busy weekend, including a hike on one day, and then a walk on the towpath trail nearby the next day.

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So many puddles = extra laundry.

We found this little turtle on the trail.

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The turtle was a nice change from all of the worms and slugs and snails and centipedes the WT insisted we stop and look at…and linger over…every. single. freaking. one.

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Slowpoke competition.

It rained on and off all weekend and is still raining on Monday morning. On the plus side, I don’t have to water the garden and, oh darn, looks like I can’t mow today.

Oh, well. I guess I’ll console myself with another cup of tea and a blanket…

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