Breastmilk pancakes and Buckwheat honey

27 01 2015

If I were going to write a Mommy blog–a serious Mommy blog, where I wrote a few times a week about my adventures in parenting at the intersections of step- and biological parenting, my middle-class suburban upbringing and poverty-line urban living situation, my white-flour baked-goods kitchen history and attraction to the hip, healthy foods of today, my belief in the brilliant ability of toddlers and how much I let mine watch TV–that’s what I’d call it.

I’m not that serious Mommy blogger, though (even though lately most of my blogging has been about momming); there’s a luxury to the pasttime just like there is to the hallmarked term in most of the pairs above that I can’t afford in terms of time/money (which, for me, are a single factor. If we had more money, I could spend the time I underpay my sitters for to blog and further pursue my own writing. Since we don’t, I have to use that time doing my actual job and trying to make more bill-paying money), and the blogging only happens in little spurts, written on my phone as often as not, in the unlikely moments when the baby is sleeping in our bedroom (which is also my office, which is why I can’t get in there to do actual work) and at the cost of too much Peppa Pig for the toddler. The only way to do both regularly is to spend much more of my time ignoring my children, which I’m not willing to do (and if I were, and I were actually the responsible adult I pretend to be, I’d be ignoring them in favour of a cleaner house and seeing the bottom of the dish-collecting sink more than once a week!).

But this morning is one of those mornings; Evanny got up too early, her nursery school is cancelled today, and it’s way too cold to venture out, so she’s watching cartoons while stalling on eating her breakfast, and Tabitha, who has been growing rapidly and falling way behind in the stuff for the last exhausting week, is catching up on sleep. With free hands and a bottle of leftover breastmilk in the fridge (we take it out of the freezer for sitters whenever we (rarely) go out at night, and then the baby refuses to drink it, and it can’t be re-frozen, and by damn somebody is making use of the nutrients I worked so hard to make, pump, and store), I threw pancakes together for toddler breakfast (bite-sized chunks in a bowl with chunks of banana), and I’m dipping mine in the buckwheat honey I bought experimentally the last time I browsed the natural section (aka Incredibly Nutritious Foods Completely Out of Our Price Range). Oh yes, I eat the breastmilk pancakes. Most of them, to be honest. Toddlers don’t really eat anything but cheese. But, hey, that way the nutrients make their way back to the nursing baby, right? It’s like breastmilk recycling–I couldn’t be more of a perfect hippie if I tried! Wait, no, I could. They’re white flour pancakes (unbleached, at least); they’d have to be at least whole wheat for any mummy street cred, GF to be taken seriously. Et voila: as usual, as not-poisoning-the-children and nature-momming it, I’m at most a B-.

So here’s what I’ve learned this morning: breastmilk pancakes are much better when you’ve optimistically kept the milk in the fridge too long; they’re just sweet and flat when you get all proactive and use it before it starts to sour. Buckwheat honey is more like molasses than honey, which is awesome in its own right, but if you were expecting honey that tasted like honey, you’d be disappointed (lacking a well-defined honey-expectation set, the toddler seems quite happy to steal bites of this darker, richer flavour, which is like her in most things, really. Yesterday she was merrily ganking bites of my habanero-wrapped breakfast quesadilla). This sets off the scientist brain, and now I want to know why there are so few flower-flavours of honey. Why just buckwheat? Is jasmine honey a thing? Plumeria honey? Lilac honey? How about veg-flowers: squash honey? Arugula?  If my mother’s bees survive their first winter, maybe I should get after her to experiment with filling the back 40 with arugula flowers alongside her sunflowers to see what sort of honey that makes!

If I were a serious Mommy blogger, these quiet little scientist questions would be my favourite part. Because although I spend most of the hours of all of my days submerged in diapers and laundry baskets and small words and repetitive questions and silly noises and making one person’s messes and cleaning up after three, I still think like someone who used to spend most of her time in the world thinking.  I don’t get occasion to articulate it very often these days–which, to narrate the thinking that’s always happening, I just crossed out “anymore” to write, because that’s an important distinction to me: I don’t believe that it’s an “anymore” type of change.  I believe that this is a temporary sea I’m under, that the diaper years will end, that I’ll be able in a few years to farm out some of the cleaning to the growing-ever-more-dexterous little hands that paw and claw me (Caleb has already started to fold and put away his laundry, of course only under duress, but that will likely be a true element of all of my helpers’ contributions forevermore), that I’ll be able to do more writing-down of my thinking, and more thinking about things instead of just sort of flappily at them, like flailing at vegetable ideas for what might make a good honey.  I miss it, thinking, but not in a “let’s visit the tombstone” kind of way; more like it’s gone on sabbatical, and I’m eager for (and faithful about) its return.

Are there enough nutrients left from the magic of breastmilk after it’s been frozen, thawed, and cooked into pancakes to make it worthwhile?  Probably not.  I’m not looking it up; if the answer’s “no,” I’d rather not know (bad scientist).  Belief in the magic of things is important to me too, and in its own wonky way, belief in the magic is what inspires me about science (and vice versa): for me, both are ways of talking about, speculating at, and in a sense trusting in the things we don’t yet (or may never) know or understand.  Even if the answer is technically no, and there’s no lingering chemical boon, it’s still organic milk, which I’m sorry to say we can’t afford to keep stocked in our fridge, full-fat for growing bodies, with no crazy cow-chemicals (except the ones I ingest when I drink the cheap milk), so I’m putting something good into these little bodies, and I believe, too, in the contribution that intention makes.  Scientists have proven that prayer works–even if the recipients don’t know they’re being prayed for.  Intention makes an impact on the world.  And so I believe that, even if the process blanks out most of the material difference of the component, the fact that I knit that milk myself, stayed up late to bank it for them, and poured it lovingly back into Ev’s food and mine makes a difference, puts something immaterially nourishing back in, alongside the all-natural strawberry jam little-E has decided is the best filling for pancake sandwiches.

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