Okay, so I know what you’re thinking. That’s just pasta and vegetables with melted cheese.
You’re right. It’s just pasta (the very last straggly pieces of 2 mismatched boxes, combined) boiled right in the same water with frozen peas, carrots, and corn. Then drained and served with a healthy handful of shredded marble cheddar and some delicious, sinful butter. And some salt.
I didn’t invent it and I’m not even pretending it’s a big deal. I know you probably make your own version. I just don’t want you to forget how fabulous and uncomplicated it is.
So I am eating this always-true formula of comfort food deliciousness while my Bird naps and my husband plays basketball with kids half his age at the community center. The house is quiet. I just finished an article I’d been wanting to read. I’m still in my pajamas, and it’s 2pm. Even more delicious.
Last week, I got worked up about chemicals and the toxic dangers lurking under our sink, and I threw every spray and solution and powder away, replacing them with a Farmer’s Almanac guide to simple cleaning, a bottle of vinegar, some lemons, a bottle of peroxide and a box of baking soda. So far so great, as Bird and I spent the morning deep-cleaning the kitchen, and she was completely welcome to go buck wild with the spray bottle of safe, homemade cleaner and her own sponge. And now my kitchen is mostly clean, my 1930s cast-iron sink is closer to white than I have seen it in a while, the house is quiet, and all is well.
Like I was saying, I’m eating my lunch. I heard some stirring from the direction of Bird’s room, and I walked down the hall and leaned against her door frame for a minute, listening for the normal scritching and scratching as she wakes from her nap. No scritching. But all of a sudden, I am socked in the gut by the fact that I am somebody’s parent. That I am standing in my quiet house with no larger agenda than to take care of my own, listening for that little person, human being, thing that I created, thing that is both a part of me and a separate life, to rejoin our day. I have a child. I am a mother. It’s a sock in the gut and a deep embrace at the same time, and I have to catch my breath because it is too big and too powerful and to sweet and too terrifying to handle.