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75 weeks | Because everyday is ‘Oatmeal Appreciation Day’ | no. 0069
This is what it’s come to. Me proclaiming new holidays based on the food the munchkin will eat. To date, oatmeal is by far the champion of all. He will devour its soft, warm, slightly-sweetened, creamy goodness at all hours of the day and night. When the prepared dinner has failed to please his tongue, have no fear, oatmeal is on the stove ready to go. Scoop some out into his favorite orange bowl. Thirty seconds in the microwave (the microwave my former super-vegan, health conscious self swore never to use again) and peace reigns once more.
This is how we have made it through many days during this turbulent, confusing, uncomfortable, and inevitable transition from primarily breastfeeding to consuming mainly solid foods. I will never have a bad word to say about oatmeal. I don’t know why it took so long to enter our experiment of figuring out what the munchkin would eat. But once it did, it felt like we had won the lottery. Bowl after bowl, he would happily swallow. No protest, no food flung on the floor or in my face, no indecipherable screams for something I could not comprehend. It was like we’d found our happy place with his transitioning diet. Of course I know he can’t just eat oatmeal, but I definitely have NO PROBLEM feeding it to him 3 meals in a row if that’s the best we can achieve on any given day. We can always try the spinach tomorrow.
I decided this work was hard enough. I was not going to beat myself up trying to institute some perfectly wholesome nutrition plan when we were struggling for a long time to get him to take anything. You better believe when I discovered oatmeal was his magic food, we stocked up on it in bulk. There could be no mornings when we were out of oatmeal. When I would see our stash running low, I would make sure we had replaced it before risking the awful cries of a hungry child who only, I repeat only, wants oatmeal.
And if there has to be a food that the munchkin’s just got to have, I think oatmeal is certainly a win-win. It’s nutritious. It’s fiber. It’s cheap. You can hide all sorts of other goodies in it like almond butter for protein. It mixes well with fruit. It doesn’t take long to cook it. It reheats lovely so you can prepare a lot and use it all day. And, most importantly, you can make the whole pot with one hand while you hold your ravenous toddler who is crying and carrying on so hard like he is in sincere doubt that you will ever feed him.
Oatmeal helped me make peace with the challenging shift from nursing exclusively. Everyone who knows me knows I did not want to interfere with our breastfeeding rhythm. It was so much EASIER to nurse on demand than to have to deal with feeding him external food. And while logically I knew he’d have to diversify his palette, I just felt I needed more time. As it turned out, I didn’t get that gentle change-over period. It was abrupt, messy, painful, and full of contradictory information from all the people who are supposed to know how to walk you through this.
Of course, we were far from casebook. The percentage of babies in this country exclusively breastfed at the time of their first birthday is very low. Add to that a baby who doesn’t do a bottle or drink from anything but the breast, and the percentage is even lower. All of the resources we were directed to were for folks who had introduced food or at least cereal in a bottle before the first birthday. I googled high and low, talked to other breastfeeding mommies, read everything I could, and still there was no one with a story like mine. Intuitively, I knew we would come into our new flow, but it was extra rocky because there was no blueprint for us. Now that we’ve made such progress, I can look back and say that I have some valuable wisdom to add to the discourse. I’m thinking of how to write about it all. One more thing on my long list of things-to-write-at-some-point.
It seems so obvious now that oatmeal would be a natural starting space for a baby who’s older than one year, has a set of teeth, and hasn’t begun eating sold-food meals. It’s more complex than straight mush, but it’s still a very simple food, a perfect “first food” (even though it was more like his 20th food since we’d been trying a LOT of other things before we discovered the power of boiled oats to totally improve the quality of your existence on the planet as a parent).
Still, I’m amazed that it doesn’t bore him. I can not eat the same thing everyday, let alone multiple times a day. But the munchkin is quite content with his oatmeal. I’m counting this as a major victory not only for his development, but for my evolution as a mothering heart trying to navigate this infinite sea of unknowns. It’s like the oatmeal is a lifeboat while we stumble through these lessons on how to optimally nourish the munchkin. We’re definitely not smooth sailing. But we’re not drowning either. Amen to that.
The munchkin, my first born, was born on a Wednesday. Wednesday’s Bloom: Textual Portraits of a New Mommy is an ongoing multi-media documentary project about my process as a mother. Today’s story is a part of Volume 1, 73 consecutive weeks of posts, spanning about the first year and a half of the munchkin’s life. Each episode explores my weekly discoveries, challenges, questions, and hopes as a mother. I also facilitate the New Mommy Writers’ Workshop for all mothers and women active in their mothering work who are excited about cultivating their own writing practices.