April 6, 2018

The scariest thing about having a child is that I love her more as time passes. Some women are struck dumb and overwhelmed immediately by a newfound love for their child as soon as they lay eyes on their newborn, but I was not that way. I marveled at our tiny new human and felt an overpowering sense of responsibility, but love came gradually and incrementally; she grew and continues to grow on me like an incipient, spreading fungus, which is a foul trick I played on her father some 13 years ago. I didn’t cry when maternity leave ended and I had to be apart for her for full work days, but 5 months later, I miss her in an unexpectedly sentimental manner in the middle of the work day, from time to time.

And she is like me in this regard. She takes her time to make up her mind. She is amenable and flexible at first, until 3 weeks or 2 months later, she isn’t – whether it’s the bottle, solid foods, or sleeping through the night, and it’s frustrating to others who thought they understood, and indeed, relied upon her fleeting agreeableness. I don’t know how many times I thought I was not mad at my husband, only to decide, after some contemplation, several days or even a week later, that in fact I was very, very angry, just when he had settled back into a comfortable complacency.

Her father thinks she smells weird, but I love the way she smells, milky and soft. Her chubby hands smell like buttery buns from a Taiwanese bakery, and her scalp smells funny yet familiar.

A friend of mine once told me having a child is to experience your own obsolescence with each milestone. I understand this now, and also frequently consider that in almost no time, she may despise me, find me annoying, feel bitter about my failings as a mother, and become frustrated at how out of touch or technologically inept I am. I get lost in these thoughts and sometimes wonder what the point of this all was, but then another part of me doesn’t care.

A Little Perspective

I’m not big on frozen desserts, but sometimes I’ll have a couple of ounces of frozen yogurt topped with fresh blueberries, mangoes, and raspberries. My favorite ice cream is Hagen Dazs Rum Raisin, but I probably only buy the smallest sized carton of this once a year, if that. Being a frequenter of Yelp events, I’ve also had the opportunity to taste various craft ice creams and gelatos, most notably and recently sea salt caramel and Himalayan pink salt flavors that were lovely and memorable.

However, we were hanging out at South Street Seaport in New York over the weekend and stopped for refreshments in the heat. I was drinking a juice, and Kyle had a pretty decent IPA. My brother came back to the table with French fries and vanilla soft serve from McDonald’s. I never go to McDonald’s, but if I did, these would be the exact two items I would order. He offered me some of the ice cream cone, which was quickly becoming softer and drippier in the summer heat.

I took a few licks and handed it back to him. Maybe the heat and hours of walking made the soft serve that much more enjoyable. Maybe the section in my Mindful Birthing book about practicing “mindful eating” and paying deliberate, intentioned, attention to texture and flavors during the eating experience had made its way into my subconscious. I suddenly had a realization about how simple, cheap, forgotten, and underrated MacDonald’s soft serve was.

He had a few bites then offered me the rest. As I finished the familiar, melty, sweet, cone, I considered that this fast food classic could easily compete with hipster caramel and exotic pink salt.