Most pregnant women in their third trimester seem to start nesting. They go out and buy cute baby clothes, they coo over strollers, they paint nurseries. Me, well ... I've moved my son up to his new room in the attic, I'm digging out the old stuff and giving away things we won't use, I'm starting to collect hand-me-down baby gear, since we borrowed much of what we had for Ian. But I feel like I'm doing so less exuberantly, less joyfully, than your standard pregnant woman, and I've been trying to figure out why, especially given what I've been through before I arrived here. I should be happy; I should be ecstatic. Instead, I feel ... conflicted.
I was walking in the rain today, to meet another mom for lunch --a woman whose daughter is in Ian's class at school--and it finally occurred to me that part of me is--as strange as it sounds--in mourning. I know that once this baby arrives, everything will change again. When Ian came, things changed ... but I was also certain that I would get back to my career, get back to working out (even if it was going to be at 10:30pm), get back to the things that made me, well ... me. When I was pregnant after Ian, each time I felt like I could plan for the change; I was mentally projecting myself into the future. And then I had to readjust when that future didn't materialize, when there was no baby. This time, though, I feel much less settled, much less like I'm on solid ground. I know that if I go back to work, the cost of day care for two would be slightly less than my take home salary. And if I'm going to commute over an hour each way to work in the morning, without making much extra money, without the promise of a raise next year (by the way, haven't gotten a raise in two years; yes, I work at a public institution), I need to be pretty fulfilled by what I do. Right now, I'm not sure I feel that way. And no one is saying to me "we value you; let us think about the next challenge for you here"; instead, they're saying "we think you're great, but if you leave, do you think Q would want your job?" Then again, if I give up my career, I give up something that has defined me for 12 years, and step into ... what? The unknown.
Either way, I'm mourning the loss of my career as I know it, and I'm also mourning the loss of my comfort zone in the small nuclear family of three, with a little boy who has been my only "baby," perfect in every way. I'm standing on the precipice of the abyss of Change, and I can't see down there. It's too damn dark. And that would be the same, regardless of how I got here: IF, loss, or plain luck.
Maybe, I thought, as I walked, getting wetter, I don't have a career. Maybe I never had one. Maybe I've had a series of jobs, and where I am now is just another job, and being a mom to another little one will be my next job, and that's not a bad thing. Maybe I've been looking at this the wrong way all along, seeing life as a series of leaps forward in a hierarchy, an arc that will eventually land me higher than where I started, with a better salary, more responsibility and respect, more flexibility. Maybe the path is not as straight, or as clear; maybe it's not a path at all. Maybe it's more like a dance, around a large space, where I meet many partners, and move forward and back and across the room, spinning and twirling in time to the music.
That didn't make me feel much better about what I may leave behind, or less anxious about starting this new journey, and it left me wondering why, when I look around me, so many other people seem to be moving in one direction. But at least it made me remember that I have left things behind before, and I have landed on my feet. I have come back to the dance.
Days like this--wet days in which I feel like the ground is shifting under my feet--call for comfort food, and short of making macaroni and cheese (which I've also been craving lately, and not the kind from the box), that means soup. I got a bunch of celery last week in the CSA, and while celery is something we use occasionally, I always end up throwing leftovers away. Determined not to do that this time, I went looking for a recipe where I could use the whole head at once and be done with it, so I could move on to conquer the next things in the box. Maybe I shouldn't be so afraid to do that outside of the kitchen, too.
Curried Celery Soup
2 t. olive oil
1 onion; chopped
1 leek; washed and sliced
1½ lbs. celery; chopped, leaves reserved
1 T. curry powder; such as Madras or a milder yellow curry
8 oz. potatoes; chopped, with peel left on (Yukon Gold would work best here)
4 c. vegetable stock
1 bouquet garni (optional)
2 T. chopped fresh mixed herbs
Heat oil in a large saucepan. Add onion, leek, and celery, cover and cook gently for 10 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add the curry powder and cook for 2 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add the potatoes, broth and bouquet garni, cover and bring to a boil. Simmer for 15 minutes or until the vegetables are tender.
Remove and discard the bouquet garni. You may want to set the soup aside to cool slightly before pureeing in a food processor or blender, though if you're using an immersion blender, the soup doesn't need to cool. Puree until smooth. Add the mixed herbs, season to taste and process briefly. Return to the saucepan and reheat gently until piping hot. Ladle into soup bowls and garnish each with a sprinkling of celery seeds and some celery leaves if desired, or, if you're not vegan, stir in some Greek yogurt for added creaminess and tang.