It’s hard sometimes to remember what life was like before the baby; Before life revolved around someone else’s meal times and diapers and naps. When I could work late and eat whatever, whenever and only swept my floors once every couple days instead of a few times every single day because you’re worried of what tiny speck of dirt she might find (and then, naturally, try to eat). You would think you could get everything done in one day when you’re not working but it turns out this baby raising stuff is pretty involved. Honestly some days I feel like I get absolutely nothing accomplished other than being a mommy. It actually requires a lot of planning and coordination just to try to get normal errands and housework done when you have a baby.
Case in point, today was grocery day. That used to be so easy. We’d go to the store at any time of the night on an empty stomach even and just load up on whatever we wanted. Now it’s days prior planning out meals for every day including the baby’s, scouring the ads for sales and clipping coupons online and in the paper. Then you have to consider the best time of day for baby to be content during your trip so that you’re not wheeling around the kid from ‘The Exorcist’ for the rest of the patrons to gawk at.
For Adri mornings are the best: She’s well rested and if we go right after she nurses then I have a couple hours before she’s ready to eat breakfast. So this morning we woke, we nursed and I threw some jeans on, got her changed and dressed, grabbed my list, coupons, wallet, diaper bag and all the other essential grocery shopping fare (emergency snacks, sippy cup, a couple toys, cart seat cover, etc). Of course the car was covered in frost so we had to wait for it to thaw out and warm up a bit. We get to the store and everything’s going great until I get to one of my more unusual ingredients and can’t find it anywhere. As it turns out, none of the employees know either and that’s about the same time that my little angel starts to test out the whining waters a bit for size. Thank God for yogurt snacks and cereals…except after the first she absolutely protests the latter and gives me a complete conniption fit at the idea that I’d expect her to eat something so plain after sampling something so delectable. So now I’m just praying that I brought enough yogurt snacks to get me down about a dozen or so more aisles. Taking a second trip back to the baking aisle to try one more time to find cream of coconut and a second through the soup aisle (just in case they figured it belonged by the cream of chicken) I give up and decide that this week’s baking experiment (coconut cream pie specially requested by The Hub) is going to have to get tweaked a bit since my grocer, who stocks coconut water, coconut milk, coconut oil and just about everything else coconut, has something against cream of coconut.
By the time we reach the register she is all but cussing out the cashier herself to hurry it up. The yogurt snacks have lost their effect and if we don’t get the hell out of dodge soon she may grow fangs. I get her snugly back into her carseat and the goods loaded in the back and as luck would have it she falls asleep on the way home. So if all goes well she will stay asleep while I unload the car. And luck smiled down on me. I left the car running and radio on while I carried in the groceries and she woke up just as I opened the door to get her.
After feeding her breakfast I start the routine of going through the contents of our fridge and making room for the new stuff. I ration out the bulk bought items and (after sweeping the floor…again) turn the little one loose to play while I clean up and start prepping food. It dawns on me that not only do I have to blind bake the pie crust after making it and refrigerating it, but the pie itself is going to have to be refrigerated for a few hours before we eat it. This wouldn’t really matter much if I didn’t have to pick up my cousin from school this afternoon so I know I am running short on time.
I blaze through the making the flaky coconut rum pie crust and while it’s cooling in the fridge, get started on the filling (which is sans cream of coconut of course). Cream cheese, vanilla pudding, condensed milk, coconut milk, and coconut all join the refrigerator gang while I whip up some fresh cream. I cover the crust in foil and blind bake it for 15 minutes then remove the foil and continue baking it for another 10 along with a baking sheet of coconut beside it for the toasted topping. By this point the baby is ready to nurse and I’ve got about 15 minutes before I have to hit the road. If everything goes smoothly I should have just enough time…provided I can multitask a bit. So while nursing the baby I check the coconut and then remove it when it’s perfectly toasted. About this time she decides to drop a load in her diaper. Of course.
Nursing mothers: Have you ever nursed in precarious places, positions or situations? I have nursed the baby in the backseat of the car while The Hub was driving us home from vacation. It was a bit awkward hovering over her carseat but it kept us from having to make an extra stop so we made better time on the trip home. However, that was not nearly as awkward as nursing while changing her diaper. But dammit I was determined.
So one doody diaper down, hands washed and baby just unlatched from the chest my timer goes off on the pie crust. I remove it from the oven and set it on our outdoor bar to cool. I retrieve the filling from the fridge and fold in my whipped cream. Hands washed again and then I’m coating and carseating the baby again. As soon as we get back from that trip I have just enough time to clean up my baking mess and get dinner fixed before The Hub gets home. I fill my cooled pie crust and top it with the remaining whipped cream and toasted coconut. Back in the fridge it goes until after dinner and then it’s one to the main course: Grilled tarragon chicken breast and parmesan risotto with sautéed asparagus and portobello mushrooms. Some leftover bacon from The Hub’s breakfast this morning and voila! A dinner to die for. I know The Hub and the baby loved it and I’m pretty sure it was a risotto that even Gordon Ramsey would be proud of.
Then when dessert time came it was pretty obvious that this latest baking experiment was a success. The Hub ranted and raved with every bite. While he marveled over the amazing meal he just ate I cleaned up and smiled thankful that even with a few hiccups and a bit of a crazy day that it all came together perfectly. Watching my little tulip and The Hub eat and laugh and enjoy what I worked hard on reminds me that this is the best job ever. Even when it means cooking and cleaning take longer with a baby who’s always playing at my feet. Even when it means I don’t get to shower or have enough time to do my hair or make up every single day. Even when things so often don’t go as planned. Even without the cream of coconut.
My ingredients, like life, sometimes have to be improvised and we make the best with what we have. But in the end it’s crazy, perfect, and absolutely delicious. So yeah, it’s hard to remember sometimes what life was like before the baby…but I do know that no matter how coconuts it may get, life is so much better now.