Bread of Life

On Wednesday, we went to the Santa Monica Farmers Market—I hadn’t been since I was a little girl, and of course Mr. Book and Joey had never been at all. The macadamia nut man is gone, but the stand where my mother would buy us honey sticks is still around. We got fresh dates and dried, red brandywine tomatoes that I swear I could just eat like apples, and these little pixie mandarins that are ugly and hard to peel but sweet and bright and wonderful. I don’t even like pluots (they seem like a dumb fruit), but we picked up a few pounds of them that might just change my mind. I’m hoping it won’t take me twenty years to get back!

We also had dim sum with a friend of my mother’s while we were in town; she and my mom used to go to the SMFM together every week. Joey ate nearly his weight in mushrooms and cheerfully tried everything else; I keep being impressed that even in the middle of teething, he’s an adventurous and loving little sprout. He’s just more fragile, and isn’t sleeping as well. He’s getting up between 4:30 and 5 every morning (as opposed to his usual 6:30 or 7), and I’ve started cooking when I’m up with him some mornings so as not to lie on the floor with him and pray for sleep. Thursdays are my biggest and most elaborate dinners, as I make food for a colleague of my father’s on those days: yesterday it was a potpie made with sausage, onion gravy, and a mashed-potato crust (with tiny, separate vegetarian version’s for me and for the colleague’s sister), baked beans (not as difficult as I expected), roasted broccoli, and a cookie pie. I don’t know why I so want to make them impressive or overwhelming food, knowing as I do that I hope you get a transplant in time and I wish I could do more is hard to communicate via stroganoff. But next Thursday is frushi and vegan Vietnamese food, so I’m not giving up.

Joey doesn’t eat as much food as I keep expecting him to. There are a couple of things that he’ll eat huge helpings of every time he’s given the chance, more or less—beans, yogurt, oatmeal made with breastmilk—but otherwise he is usually content to taste things. It hasn’t escaped me that those favorites are all soft, and I wonder how much teething is affecting his appetite. He’s still nursing frequently, which is fine and great, but he’s so big (twenty-three pounds!) that I can’t help feeling that he’s not completely satiated on a purely liquid diet. I suppose things will get better once he’s not teething all the time . . . but that will be more than a year away, I’m told.

Ruth has a complicated diet these days; she isn’t eating meat, eggs, dairy, soy, wheat, corn, onions (including garlic), peppers (including paprika), tomatoes, potatoes, eggplant, tomatillos, or peanuts. I really, really can’t cook for her now. Being driven to cook for the people I care about (as I write this, Mr. Book is snarfing down some banana bread courtesy of today’s early morning wakeup), I’m minded to see it as a symbol of our growing disconnection. There are points of dietary disconnect with everyone I love, of course—Mr. Book hates olives, my father hates eggplant, my mother wishes that I would eat meat—but between my family and Ruth’s there has opened up a great culinary chasm. Shoot, I don’t know that we could even eat out together.

My mother is mildly horrified to see me share bites of food with Joey; I’ll take a bite of a peach, hold it out to him, and then take another bite; I’ll pick mushrooms out of my lunch for him; I’ll finish his toast. I can see my mom staring as Joey sucks on a corner of his dad’s sandwich and then sees that same sandwich eaten by Mr. Book. And while I don’t think it’s necessary to feed your baby like a mama penguin to be close, it is definitely a sign and cement of our bond.

I miss Cricket. I wish I could feed him.

8 thoughts on “Bread of Life

  1. Whenever I read posts that mention Ruth, I am struck by how totally different Cricket’s moms are from your family. I did not have a pre birth match, meeting my daughter’s mother when DD was a month old already (she was in interim care) Even with that “short” process, I can totally see why her mother chose us as parents. When I look through her family’s photo albums on Facebook, I can see so many similarites, not just ethnicity, but interests, sense of family, even family issues. I know you have answered this before, but I am still so surprised that you chose them. It seems like such a bad match, and proof positive that there is no “meant to be”

  2. I have been thinking a lot about food and sharing food in the context of adoption. For a long time I wouldn’t let Pennie cook with me because she was the guest and I wanted her to relax and blah blah blah and then when she decided to go to chef school I realized that she WANTED to cook for us so I quit trying to be the good hostess. It was such a mire of blocked messages. But having Pennie cook for us was one of the greatest gifts she gave us (and Madison). For one, she’s a really really good cook and for two, having someone cook for you is super awesome.

    She left town yesterday to move back home and I am a teary mess but the time before last that she visited she made the us grilled cheese and this incredible homemade soup and it was oh so lovely.

    I am gonna miss the hell out of her.

  3. I hope I did not insult you Susie, I know you thoughtfully matched with them. I know your reasons then were sound. I just wish they were more like you and Mr. B, but alas they couldn’t replace you no matter what.

    • Oh, I wasn’t insulted! I read your comment and just thought “Well, her diet wasn’t like this then” and decided to think about how to answer. I think that even under the most honest and well-intentioned of circumstances, you’re on your best behavior while matched—like on a first date—and also that Ruth and Nora’s plans for parenting didn’t end up coming to fruition. What can you do?

    • She believes that it will help with the joint pain that she is experiencing—she has consulted with a practitioner of traditional Chinese medicine.

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