I can remember a time not too far past that I would get a craving. A overwhelming visceral memory of specific food: often savory, occasionally sweet, almost always soul warming. The type of food that you sigh over. The type of food that you eat slowly and cherish and almost mourn a bit once the experience is over. The crunch and sigh of my grandmother’s friend chicken and gravy on a Sunday afternoon. The slurp and twang of the noodle house I visit every time I go to New York City. That first perfect bite that is raw tuna and rice and soy sauce and wasabi. All my favorites were always a perfect combination of flavor and texture and memory and craft.
Now: I’m plowing through plates of french fries. Loads and loads of french fries. Condiments not optional. Please pass the ketchup or the mustard or whatever special sauce the particular restaurant, in which I currently find myself sitting, serves. I force myself to eat salads. Partially because it’s the right thing to do and partially because I have overwhelming amounts of french fry guilt. Oh and oatmeal - a daily serving of the power food that multiple generations of women raised on “What to Expect When You’re Expecting” have learned supposedly acts as baby growing fuel.
And I worry:
What if I never get my "real" appetite back? What if, after this lovely miniature human inside of me decides to come out, he chooses to take with him the remnants of my palette which I have worked to expand and refine over the last thirty years of my life? Will I be doomed to a never ending cycle of grease laden fries and its exculpatory partner of greens and vinaigrette?
This, of course, leads me to the larger, more pressing, question:
What if motherhood causes a similar loss of creative craving?
I look back at the not too distant past of the first trimester haze and remember how the mere thought of considering the words I wanted to write proved to be too much effort. During that mythical first three months I felt as if my urge to anything other than take a good long nap was out of the question. Will the onset of motherhood be an extended version of this?
I worry that as I step into the unknown that is new motherhood- the breastfeeding, the bonding, the early morning, early afternoon, and midnight cries that seem to have no resolution- that my appetite for the goodness of life will fade away. Similar to my current dependence on the fast food line, will my creative urge be replaced by a resigned reliance on the processed foods of entertainment? Will I, in my desire for story and plot, be forced to consume the saccharine stories of the real house wives of wherever the heck they currently reside? Or will even that desire fade away where I will simply fast from anything artistically expressive? A place where my life is infinitely less likely to be documented and treasured, and instead, merely survived.
As I write this I don’t have an answer.
The child will, hopefully, stay tucked away a few more months while he grows and develops and pushes both of us to our limits. In the meantime, I will also be growing and expanding and testing my own boundaries. Every night that I or my husband cook something that is beautiful and delicious will be considered a success. But every night I opt for McDonald’s will be regarded as a success as well. Because every meal that passes means I have made it one day closer to meeting my son. And because I realize that his appearance is not the end of this creativity thing, just a different course of meal that is life. And I fully expect life to become more sweet and delightfully savory once he arrives.
image : Dominick Martin via Unsplash