i had a thousand things to do this week. thousands of words to read. thousands to write. thousands of these remained undone.
but i was having a conversation with my friend tessa that left me feeling like i should still feel proud that i’m doing fine.
we were talking about oats. is it possible to have too much oats? i fear so! i feel like Zi eats a lot of it, and i wonder if somewhere inside that super alert and eternally active child might be suffering from mal-nutrition.
as a vegetarian, sometimes i myself wonder if i eat too many cheese sandwiches – which is basically what i lived on throughout writing my phd (ask stone, he made 90% of them) – and if in between everything i eat, i’m somehow not getting the variety, kinds or amounts of nutrition i actually need. i had a conversation with a nutritionist about this once, confidently recounting the fruits, peas and beans, rice and breads i eat, and she flat out said that i wasn’t actually eating as healthy as i thought. gawd. who knew.
i’ve kept Zi on a similar diet. She eats everything so far, except fish. and i’m not about to feed her meat, though stone probably will (a negotiation which i’m sure will end up in a later entry). sometimes she eats well, sometimes not (recently not, but two top teeth emerged during this period too). every night she still breastfeeds, seemingly lying attached to me all night.
but i guess i still worry if its enough. is this something all first mothers do? it’s not worrying as much as its trying to be conscientious about my child. maybe somewhere in there is guilt too. maybe not guilt, but me knowing that i don’t give her as much time as perhaps i should.
after all, i work. and i could spend more time teaching her japanese and sign language and stacking, but at the end of a manic week when there are still three days to go – consisting of carrying her around and awake all day – I’m not out there making my own baby sorbets. i hang out, i read, i feed her when she seems hungry, i breastfeed when she fusses, i walk about, rock in the hammock and sing a lot of ‘do de rubber duck’ among other things.
but is it enough?
of course, everyone has advice. wanted and unwanted. one family i know gave their daughter fish oil and are all about its impact on brain development. listening to them, i wondered if maybe i was slacking off. i figure Zi will be happy, healthy and smart pretty much whatever we do. i watched so much tv – bad tv – in the 80s, from scoobie doo to love boat – and i survived it well. am i being lazy not doing the fish oil, baby einstein, vitamins, every-moment-a-teaching-moment thing?
of course my pediatrician took one look at her propelling, like fireworks, in every direction and said she is fine – despite the fact that she gets half the sleep expected of babies and isn’t a big eater. and though she said forget vitamins, i still wondered.
when you make decisions for your baby, you hold their life, health and future in your hands, and who knows when those decisions do or don’t matter. i made a decision not to give my baby processed food – not cereals nor (especially) formula. though certainly almost everyone else around me seemed to be doing so. strictly ital for my girl. to this day, its been only breastmilk and food, with some organic goat and rice milk in between. but sometimes i wonder if she’s missing out on stuff those packages give babies while i think i’m doing good mixing meh lil oats. my brother still gives his 3 year old formula, and looking at his chubby cherub, i wondered if i wasn’t doing something i should for Zi.
then i talked to tessa. she told me only what the doctor already did, but it helped hearing it from a real person and a vegetarian and a mom with three gorgeously healthy girls. i’m really proud i managed to exclusively breastfeed every two hours for several months – night and day, i started working when Zi was 5 months old and i haven’t had a week off since and still i’ve managed to keep to the ideals i wanted for her and myself when we began. considering that unlike some of my amazing friends, i’m not a cookist. and unlike others, i can’t stay home to look after my baby. and like all the other times i’ve thought about and then dismissed the idea of formula, i’m glad i’ve somehow managed to get this far. and she is healthy, happy, alert and assertive.
i guess when i take a moment to notice i’ve accomplished this, the thousand things not done don’t seem so daunting. its not that i’m not behind on just about everything. it’s just that on the list of current priorities, because of her current stage, Zi is at the top. If i can drive, work, teach, breastfeed, steam her fruit and veges, spend hours combining amazon reviews making sure to get her non-white dolls and books, manage a big research project and join an academic book reading club, then maybe i’m only supposed to focus on the top to dos. and maybe i should feel good about those. and i should just stop there.
its hard to know if you are doing all the things you should right. but if you can do it for the top few and your child is clearly living la dolce vita, then maybe this is not a case of too much oats or too many things left undone.