One of the hardest adjustments to parent life is that it's no longer eight hours to work, eight hours to rest, and eight hours to do as you will. At least the first few years, it's at least eight hours to work for money, about five more to work as a parent, you can rest if your child will rest, and maybe an hour to do as you will if you are very fortunate and can run on fumes. Couple that with a small child who recently started saying, "I not going to eat that, that's nasty," in addition to rarely accepting a new food into rotation, and not much of that time is used for cooking.
I follow meal prep Instagrammers and feel nostalgia. My only guaranteed cooking time comes every other week on market day.
We've belonged to a CSA more years than not since 2011. That first year, I was laid off not long after the first share pickup, so I had plenty of time and a lot of incentive to cook every weird vegetable. That CSA shut down after the second year and many many emails asking us to pray for them, and we took a break from CSAs for a while.
I picked back up with another local vegetable CSA a few years later. There were a lot of sprouts, which I was okay with at first because I was trying to replicate my favorite Calypso salad. One day, they sent out an email saying another farm was starting up a meat CSA, was anyone interested?
Yes, I was. So, for a few years we picked up monthly meat shares we could customize to our liking - so, mostly beef with the occasional bacon - from a farm on Al Gore's property outside Carthage, Tennessee. The year they started a veggie CSA, I dropped the sprouts CSA and went single-source.
I was going to quit CSAs all together the year I had the baby but when you are in your third trimester and the world shuts down because of a plague, your inner prepper takes over. I not only logged on to Al Gore's internet to re-up with his farm, but I also found a chicken and egg CSA too. Everyone did home deliveries that year and I did have the time after all: my child wasn't mobile and my work schedule was flexed so I was away from the computer during the afternoon. One of my happiest memories is of that weird time that summer, narrating my every move as I cut up and froze a bumper crop of peppers to the baby who sat in her BabyBjorn bouncer, watching.
This year we're skipping the mostly-beef CSA, still doing the chicken and egg CSA but with some short breaks between three-month commitments, and I picked up a new veggie CSA. What I like about this one is it's market style - so you know your limits for each thing, and if you don't like it you don't have to take it. Previous CSAs sometimes felt like insurance for our composting service.
I don't keep up with the clock app, unless it's over coffee with a dear friend catching me up on it like it's her stories. I downloaded the app briefly in the run-up to giving birth, got sucked in for a few hours' worth of handing over my eyeballs to the algorithm, and quickly realized it was not for me. Even still, the "crunchy"/"silky" mom discourse1 has reached me.
These labels are not for someone whose only experience raising an infant was post-lockdown but pre-vaccine. I suspect I will always be a little surprised to be seen as a mom. I think of the Hannah Gadsby quote from Nanette: "I identify as tired." Maybe I am just a salty mom.
Still, I know my farmers, and I ordered my kid a set of Montessori knives she can use from her learning tower the next time we come home from the farmer's market.
1: I find it odd that, in this era of nut-free classrooms, we are using nut butter styles to categorize moms.