Becoming a new mom is stressful enough, but layer in a global pandemic, and it can feel soul-crushing at times. To help her cope, this mom turned to cooking for refuge.
As a first-time mom on maternity leave (which is 12 months long in Canada), I thought I would have at least a few hours a week to dedicate to my writing craft now that my son is over a year old.
At a loss for words
You’d think after becoming a mother during a global pandemic that I would have something to say.
But the pandemic seemed like too obvious a subject. So many other brilliant writers are talking about the immense obstacles parents are facing—the New York Times published a content series called The Primal Scream, Anna Malaika Tubbs wrote this beautiful piece about her son’s first year and the power of moms for Mother Magazine.
Countless others have spoken out about the impacts the pandemic, political upheaval, and general chaos of the past year have had on families, especially working moms.
So what did I have to add? When I took the time to sit with this feeling a bit more (in the wee hours of the morning, of course), I came to realize that what’s really going on is that I haven’t been able to process what’s happened to my family and me because it’s still ongoing.
I haven’t been able to process what’s happened to my family and me because it’s still ongoing.Mira
My close friend, fellow new mom, and co-founder of maternal mental health service, Eva Wellness, Sarah Goodman MSW, RSW, pointed out that often people cannot process trauma until they can evaluate it retrospectively.
What I do know, however, is that cooking is how I’ve coped.
How cooking has helped me cope
All things considered (and it’s a lot of things…), I’ve had a fairly easy transition to motherhood. My matrescence has involved uncomplicated labor and delivery, having ample time off work, having my husband home far more than he would’ve been in a non-pandemic world, and having a pretty easygoing and happy kiddo.
And yet, the challenges of having a child during a pandemic were still undoubtedly felt. We did not see anyone for the first eight or so weeks of my son’s life—only visitors outside and from a distance—and many close friends and relatives, including my brother and sister-in-law, have still not met our son, who’s now over one.
To top it all off, Toronto is now in yet another lockdown.
While I do not know what it’s like to give birth or raise my first child without a global crisis, I do know that cooking as a family, learning to feed myself while feeding a new human, and dropping off food for family and friends has been a highlight of this strange time.
Early on, we jumped on the banana bread trend. Then, we used practically all of the kitchen appliances we received for our wedding. Now, we have taken to delivering fresh loaves of bread almost every weekend to family and friends.
It’s a simple act and a simple recipe. But it’s changed our entire pandemic experience. During a time when we can’t host our loved ones for dinner parties or celebrate holidays or birthdays together, it’s become our lifeline. The visits are brief: masked drop-offs on doorsteps and quick drive-bys. But they’re meaningful.
With some friends and relatives, this act has even inspired a barter system of sorts. In exchange for bread, we’ve received homemade beef jerky, oil from an aunt in Greece’s olive grove, buttermilk biscuits, and biscotti.
Although we’re big on cooking and entertaining, baking was never our thing; we are not a recipe-following household. And yet, sharing bread with our loved ones—breaking bread from a distance—has revived our connection to each other during an otherwise isolating time.