Saturday, March 26, 2011

Minestrone di Verdura

Yesterday, I was on top of the world.  I went to work for a Senate meeting with N. in tow and returned with both of our sanities intact, put both kids to bed with minimal crying, did the laundry, ran and emptied the dishwasher, emptied the compost, and started beans soaking for a soup.

But honestly, more often lately, I've been feeling like I suck at motherhood.  I read other mom bloggers that seem to be having such an amazing time with their newborns, and wonder what's wrong with me.  I'm not cooing at my infant while she nurses; I'm typing one handed on my computer.  Am I supposed to be talking to her?  The other day, she was crying, I had exhausted all possible options and was not willing to feed her again (she had just fallen off minutes ago), and I went about doing laundry, crying infant on my shoulder.  Is this heartless?  And then there's I., whom I feel like I don't pay enough attention to, either ... I want to pay attention to him, but I can't make my brain function to play pretend with him, and I sometimes find myself wanting to turn him off ... to turn everyone off and have a minute to myself.  I don't think I have postpartum depression, but boy, it's easy to get down on myself these days.

And then there's the limbo I mentioned in my last post.  Dressing up in my pantsuit made me feel productive, and yet a part of me longed for my comfortable baggy sweatpants.  I wish things felt less complicated.

A friend of mine (my former boss) sent me a cookbook recently.  It's a cookbook that I coveted once when I was visiting her house for dinner, full of simple soups from a Benedictine monk in a monastery in upstate New York. Most of the recipes are vegetarian, and all of them are unfussy and easy to throw together.

I cook for comfort, and simple monastery soups sound pretty appealing right now.  The book is divided by month, with attention to seasonal ingredients, and I think I'll try making one per week; we are joining a CSA again this summer (a different one from last year, which starts a little later and includes fruit), and these soups will be a good way to use our weekly share.  Here's to simplicity, one week at a time.

Minestrone di Verdura

2/3 c. olive oil
1 large onion, chopped
2 carrots, sliced
2 stalks celery, sliced
1 15 oz. can cannellini beans
1 15 oz. can peeled tomatoes
10 c. water
2 potatoes, peeled and diced
1 small head of radicchio or escarole, chopped
1 c. white wine
1 bay leaf
chopped parsley
salt and pepper, to taste
grated Parmesan cheese (optional)

Gently saute the onion, carrots and celery stalks for about 5 minutes. Add the beans and tomatoes and continue sauteing for 2 more minutes.

Add water and bring the soup to a boil. Add the diced potatoes, radicchio, wine, bay leaf, parsley, salt and pepper. Cover the pot an simmer the soup for 60 minutes. Turn off the heat ans let the soup stand for 15 minutes. Remove the bay leaf. Serve hot. Grated cheese may be sprinkled on top of each serving.
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12 comments:

  1. As a fellow mom of two kids I can tell you that the wanting to just be alone is not abnormal. I sometimes feel like I never have any quiet time...there is always a child crying or pulling or laundry to be done, dishes to be washed, etc. And while I love being home with my family, the near constant "on" position of my duties is exhausting. If I do get some alone time, like right now, I feel guilty for it. But needing a break doesn't make any of us bad mothers.

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  2. I think that perfect mommy blogs must be even more intimidating and self-doubt-causing than perfect healthy living blogs! I also think that you're brave to publicly admit what most women probably secretly think of a lot of the time. Good luck making your decision!

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  3. Don't feel bad when munchkin was little and hard to settle i used to tie her to my back african style and do the housework till she feel asleep, Newborns are Hard work, and kiddies can wear you thin in an hour, there is a limit on the ammount of finger painting and playdough i can hapily do in a day. Just relax your doing a great job and yu'll find your new happy medium soon.
    take care

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  4. Oh, I am sorry you are feeling like you suck at parenthood. It's ok to suck sometimes. I know that sounds lame but really no one can be a great mom all the time.

    Last weekend one of my friends and I hung out with our kids and talked about this exact thing and how we feel like we are drowning sometimes and can't do it all, work, chores, being a good mom etc. (btw- we chatted as we sent the three kids downstairs to watch movies, while we sat upstairs uninterrupted. of course we checked on them often. ha ha)

    And this past week I was sitting on the couch, while G was watching a movie and my husband starting talking to me, I wasn't listening and he noticed and said some about it to which I said "I'm trying to have a moment alone, can we not talk." I just wanted to be in my own head, with no one talking to or at me. Since I can't get a minute alone, I make up my own, which sometimes means disconnecting.

    Maybe you do have some mild blues or maybe life is just hard now. I hope you get some spring weather that lifts your spirits. That usually helps me a bit.

    Thinking of you and sending you good thoughts. I'm sure you are a wonderful mom, even when you think you suck.

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  5. I think those perfect mommy blogs can suck it. You are doing a good job, and if you didn't want some alone time, well, then I'd think something was wrong. If the kids are fed, reasonably clean, and still have all their limbs, you're doing a good job in my book.

    This soup looks yummy, btw. I might have to try this with some of my leftover turkey broth.

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  6. love that cookbook! (we have it too)

    & personally, i'd think you were nuts if you didn't occasionally want to turn everyone off & find some alone time. you don't suck, you're human, & i'm sure you are an awesome mom. negotiating a whole new person's entry into the family is tough & it takes months, not weeks. cut yourself some slack & lots of luck to you with the pending job decisions.... i'm sure it will work out.

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  7. First, your soup looks amaaazing and cozy. Especially for today when I woke up to snow on the ground!

    Second, I don't think you should question yourself AT ALL for wanting a little personal time! Part of being a good mama is taking care of yourself and meeting some of your own needs more than once in a blue moon. Wanting some quiet, personal space to defrag seems perfectly appropriate and normal to me.

    As a new mom to a now three month old, I only just now feel a little less scattered in this transition. I can't imagine trying to balance new baby responsibilities with parenting other children and the ubiquitous household tasks (and a job, which I faild at, seeing that I just quit mine last week). Anyway, it is stressful and draining, and you are so entitled to those feelings. Be gentle on yourself!

    I hear you on feeling like you're making the decision about work vs. SAH on your own. Seriously, I've been there, and verrry recently. I'm terrified of this SAH stuff. I know it is a hugely intimate decision, so I'm not trying to sway you in one direction or the other. Just trying to say that I wholeheartedly recognize how complex that decision is. I'm still trying to manage the fallout of my own decision. Yowsa.

    Hang in there. I feel confident that you have sunnier days ahead!

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  8. I think that doing laundry with a crying baby on your shoulder sounds perfectly reasonable, if not really pleasant for you... In my limited 6 weeks of experience, I find that I enjoy my time with P when I also have at least twice as much time for myself. Or more. 15 minutes of play time is sublime if you've just had 2 hours to tool around on the internet and clean your kitchen or whatever (while she sleeps). Who can interact with a newborn for longer than 15 minutes or so at a time? You'd have to be really mentally deficient to be able to carry on the mommy-speak babble for much longer than that! Everyone tells you to 'enjoy every minute' of parenting because it goes by so fast. Yeah, ok, but you can't torture yourself by trying to force it when you aren't feeling it. It's just more advice that sucks.

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  9. GRRRRRRR! I just wrote this super long comment that was lost. Ugh, I'll tell you in person!

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  10. I wish things felt less complicated for you, too, but I bet you're doing a better job than you are giving yourself credit for. xx

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  11. It's funny because I'll feel like I'm doing a good job with M and then the nanny comes along who dotes on her with such intensity that it's like M turns to mushy-perfectly-quiet-baby. She cries to communicate with me. And then Dh will come over and do some cool fun thing playing with her legs or arms and she seems to totally love it, and I realize that I talk to her and give her kisses but I didn't spend any time *playing* with her... oof. No one is perfect and none of us can be all things to them. I am trying constantly to remind myself of this so that I feel ok that M is getting good parenting even though it is definitely not all from me. You are doing great -- and I can't believe you are already starting back to work. Geez how time flies!!! I am eager to hear how your meeting goes and what you end up deciding/telling them.

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