Saturday, September 17, 2011

Once in a Lifetime: Roasted Corn Salad

Summer is waning here; we're seeing the last of the season's corn, and already today there was a noticeable chill in the air.  Because I am still unemployed, N. and I took the train into the city on Wednesday to visit the Union Square Greenmarket (we were on a top secret reconnaissance mission that involved seeing what our CSA had on offer to city-dwellers), and I found myself salivating over early season apples.

It's been very strange to watch school starting--and continuing--without me.  It's the first time in 34, maybe even 35 years that I haven't been at an academic institution for the beginning of the fall term, either as a student or as a professional.  The longer I am unemployed, the more I feel like my identity is changing.  I enrolled myself in a two week free trial of the equivalent of Strollercize (which, incidentally, kicked my sorry butt on Monday), and I went today to attend a meetup of some local SAHMs from the group that I was kicked out of when I had my son, because I couldn't attend enough meetings. It was actually not bad; N. enjoyed herself immensely because she got to watch other kids (which makes her jump up and down in my arms as if she's on a bungee).  I mark the days in terms of playdates and errands and other commitments; I've been trying to keep busy, so that the days don't all blur together.  Some days I worry that I will forget how to work in the adult world.  Other days I worry that no one will ever hire me again.

In the meantime, I am really starting to enjoy my daughter.  I feel like I get her now, more than I did, say, three months ago.  I know what she's whimpering about, and can often fix it.  She plays games with me like peekaboo and "helphelpI'mbeingeatenbythebaby" (this is a game she invented, in which she bites my nose gently with a very wide mouth and her two small bottom teeth; hilarity ensues when I fake-scream).

And yet, I feel like she isn't quite mine.  Like I'm borrowing her.  Like this isn't exactly my life.  I'm reminded of that Talking Heads song "Once in a Lifetime": "You may tell yourself, this is not my beautiful house.  You may tell yourself, this is not my beautiful wife."  On the train back from New York, N. was sleeping on my chest, and I found myself looking down at her, almost afraid to breathe, afraid that somehow this moment would evaporate, and life would be "same as it ever was."

While I do want to go back to work, I also think that we owe it to ourselves to be awake.  To not let life simply flow underground into the blue again.  To be present for the change in season, even if we're not going back to school.  And if we are going back to school, to let this be something other than just the beginning of another academic year, the cycle beginning again.  Because every day is once in a lifetime.

This salad celebrates the end of summer, and reminds us to enjoy the end, as we embrace the beginning of what comes next.

Roasted Corn Salad

3 cups fresh corn kernels (about 4-5 ears)
1 tablespoon vegetable oil, divided
Cooking spray
2 tablespoons white balsamic vinegar
1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
1 cup chopped seeded tomato
1/2 cup chopped red bell pepper
1/2 cup chopped green onions

Preheat oven to 425°.

Combine corn and 1 teaspoon oil in a jelly-roll pan coated with cooking spray. Bake at 425° for 20 minutes or until browned, stirring occasionally.

Combine 2 teaspoons oil, vinegar, mustard, salt, and black pepper in a medium bowl; add corn mixture, stirring well. Stir in tomato, bell pepper, and onions. Serve warm or at room temperature.
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  1. Yum! This sounds a lot like a salad a friend introduced me to. She also added basil to hers and minus the mustard.
    I think I'll be making us a fresh salad in the next day or two.

  2. This is a very touching post. I love the way that you described feeling apart from your own life; I think that everyone feels that way every now and then. Kiss your baby and try to enjoy your days as much as you can. Your salad is lovely, so enjoy that too!

  3. Great post. I understand exactly how you feel. On the one hand, mothering does become more and more rewarding as they grow. On the other, I become more and more worried that I will not be able to get back to (fulfilling, paid) work when I am ready.
    Also, never mind that the days are getting shorter fall produce is some pretty exciting stuff!

  4. I was also pining after the apples I saw at the farmers market the other day. I hope we get some in our box soon.

    I remember not going to work last fall and feeling so strange about it. Every year September and October are our most beautiful and warm months and I've always been back in the classroom, missing it. But last year I got to hang out in the city with baby Isa and it was so wonderful. I felt so blessed to spend those months that way.

    It was different, of course, because I did have a job to go back to. I can't imagine how hard it is to worry about ever finding fulfilling employment again. I've never faced that uncertainty before.

    I'm so glad you're enjoying your time with your daughter. While it's hard not knowing what your professional life might look like, I'm sure it's nice to have this time with her. She will never be this age again and it goes so very fast. I hope you continue to enjoy yours days with your baby girl.

  5. Okay, I love that song and Sun likes to play... let'spincheverythingyouholddear. It's fun. Moon plays yawn,i'mgonnanapnowmamacauseyoucan't. Weee!

  6. What a beautiful can be frightening to see yourself slip away into something see yourself becoming someone you never imagiend and still be glad you are enjoying this time with N!

  7. It's a very strange thing to NOT go back to school when you have been on an academic rhythm for so very long. It's also hard to find yourself not working when you are used to working. But I think your desire "To not let life simply flow underground into the blue again" is spot on (as is Mary Oliver's poem, which you quote in your bio).

    Still, though, it IS hard. Not knowing what will be. I think any feeling "out of synch" that you may be experiencing will soon disappear when the right possibility presents itself. You're someone with a lot to offer.

  8. what a beautiful post. I so know this feeling; you have described it perfectly.

    kisses to you and N both.

  9. I couldn't have said it better. "I found myself looking down at her, almost afraid to breathe, afraid that somehow this moment would evaporate, and life would be "same as it ever was."

    I look at my daughter everyday and ask god to never take her from me. Please let her be mine forever. Our time with them is so precious.

    Could you substitute teach just to keep your head in the game a few times a year?

  10. That really must be quite strange for you, not heading "back to school" this fall after so many years of doing just that. I also worry that nobody will ever want to hire me again, but I've been out of the workforce for over four years now. It's definitely a big transition but it sounds like are handling it with grace.

  11. I love this post. I also love that you were featured on the Friday Roundup on Stirrup Queens. I can't think of a blogger who deserves it more!

  12. What a delicious, gorgeous post. There's always a moment in August- there'll be that ONE morning, where there's something about the birds, the color of the morning, the sound of cicadas and maybe a cricket - at some point the air just breathes: "it's back to school season."

    Lovely, lovely post.

  13. This is what a made with the last of my corn last year! Tomorrow I take the next step in this journey: my husband is going back to work and I'll be a solo mum. With all the pumping etc I'm doing it's a bit daunting, but would it be horrible to admit I'm looking forward to my husband being out of my hair?!?

  14. Yes, this. I'm so busy worrying how will I transition into the workforce, when, can I retrain, etc, that I'm not present. My daughter is becoming a wonderful little girl who savors time with her mother. How did I get so lucky? I need to really enjoy that time.

  15. I totally related to your feelings of not quite believing that the baby is yours, that it's just one cosmic error that will soon be rectified. Your love for your children shines through your words.

  16. Here from Creme. I hope that the past three months has made everything feel more permanent. And that salad sounds wonderful!

  17. I wonder if part of that emotion will be true for every SAHM...whether by choice or not....the effort to make sure the days don't get fused together...

    Here from CDLC and loving it....

  18. Here from CDLC. This is a wonderful post. I hope you are starting to feel like things are finally real :)

  19. I loved this post the first time I read it, and today I loved it even more coming back to read it as part of CDLC. Perfect pick, my friend. :)


  20. Here from CDLC... Loved this post. Must be surreal at times to live the life that you so hoped for. Love the way you wrote it all down.

  21. Love this post and your Talking Heads reference. Are you still Strollercizing?


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