At the library recently I exchanged small talk with a woman whose baby had just turned 4 weeks old. It was the first time she had left the house without him and she had that wide-eyed but exhausted expression that’s unique to new moms. “Does it get easier?” she whispered. “This has been the longest month of my life.”
I knew exactly what she was going through. When my first baby was born, it felt like years until we reached the six week mark. Now, that baby is already 4 and my new baby, the one who I swear was born last week, is already 5 months old. Life is moving forward at an alarming speed these days. I keep having flash-forwards to when my girls are both in college or older and I’m in my sixties and what scares me, is that it doesn’t seem all that far away. I understand now how days fold into years that fold into decades and you suddenly find yourself looking back instead of forward.
Snapshots appear in my head, photos of me and Sorin and the girls, photos that the girls will look at one day and say, “Can you believe how young mom and dad are?” They will see me as I am now, youngish and blonde and thin and with some wrinkles but not too many yet. And they will see how handsome Sorin is and how happy we are holding these two little girls, one blonde (with brown eyes), one brunette (with blue eyes).
And this makes me smile. Because they won’t ever really know or remember how exhausted we are on most days because every night at our house feels like taking a red eye flight. We don’t really wake up in the morning, because we’ve never really slept. I knew this time around what I was getting into with the whole first year of sleeplessness; it’s easier to take because it’s less of a shock. And for a baby her age, I think J is sleeping pretty well. But there’s always something, isn’t there? And the kicker this time is having two young children in a very small house where a cry from one easily wakes up the other. It can get a little bananas over here between the hours of 11:30pm and 6am.
We’re in triage mode. We simply don’t have enough energy during the day to attend to anything but the essentials. It’s excruciating, but it also makes the little things in life seem unbelievably great. Like a good cup of coffee in the morning. Oh, my god, how I love that first cup of coffee. I go to bed thinking about it. Or, slipping out for a quick walk or jog alone? It feels as restorative as a tw0 week vacation use to. And yesterday, I allowed myself a few minutes before jumping in the shower to take some old nail polish off my toenails and it felt like a spa treatment.
Needless to say, I haven’t been whipping up too many blog-worthy meals over here. Our meals are fine, some of them even quite good, but inspiring they are not. Until the other day, when I found myself standing in the kitchen peeling hot escarole leaves off a pan just out of the oven and popping them into my mouth. Then Sorin walked in and started doing the same thing. And we ate the whole pan just like that, savoring the bitter, salty flavor.
If you don’t like the bitter, bracing flavor of greens, this recipe isn’t for you. But if you’re into it, then you’ll find yourself craving wilted escarole just like me, needing another hit of olive oil and garlic dripping from leaves that are perfectly crunchy around the edges and soft and slightlty chewy in the middle. Doused in olive oil and garlic and topped with (optional) shavings of parmesan cheese, it’s about as good as winter greens can get.
The recipe is simple: Tear escarole leaves into small pieces, generously coat with olive oil and garlic, sprinkle with red pepper flakes and salt and roast in a 450 F oven for about 7 minutes. A more detailed version of the recipe is over at cheese.about.com.
This escarole would be lovely at a dinner party, especially in February in LA, when you can eat outside with lights strung overhead and the faint smell of orange blossoms in the air. But it’s also okay to eat the escarole standing in your kitchen like we do, then have a main course of popcorn and wine while watching The Wire.