Just as last week’s existential angst revealed itself to actually be a horrendous chest and sinus cold, Aaron had to leave town for four days. Single-parenting while sick, it turns out, is one good way to stop navel-gazing and get on with the business of eeking out one’s existence! I pulled it together, mostly, though I was sharp with Leo a few times, and each time I was immediately sorry. Barking at him when he wines or abuses the house does nothing but leave a bad sound ringing in my ears. In better moments, I remind him that he has words to use now, even if you have to be his mom to understand them. (“Bampa asses!” for example, means, “Grandpa get your glasses so you can read me a book!”)
Parenting without Aaron’s physical and emotional support these past few days was actually quite therapeutic. For one, it’s nice to stop taking Aaron for granted and really appreciate how much we miss him. And doing without him helped me realize that I get somewhat lackadaisical when I know someone else is around to help out. When it’s just me, Leo still gets cared for well, meals still get made and the house still gets (essentially) cleaned. There’s just less time to lie on the couch talking about how tired I am, or to discuss who has to do what. In other words, spending four days alone with my son is a helpful reminder that spontaneously going to the children’s museum, teaching Leo how to slice bananas with a child’s knife, curling up with a new picture book or bundling up for a walk is not just for Leo, it’s for me too. This is our life!
My cooking is a case in point, since the kitchen is so often where I play out my inner life. Last night, I ignored the lazy, ordered-in wonton soup—inclined murmurs of my subconscious and put together the kind of comforting chicken and rice soup that you can make even during Toddler Happy Hour. It’s the kind of soup that tastes familiar, delicious and simple. It soothed our colds and was a nourishing meal that left plenty of time for other, more important things, like bristle blocks and farm animal puzzles. Sometimes I enjoy making a big deal about meals, and I always hate when something just tastes thrown together, but when I get it right, cooking simple foods that Leo will enjoy is a pleasure. Who cares that we’re eating dinner at 4:30 and my dining partner is trying to slice the rice? A good soup in good company is always one of life’s great delights.