Becca’s neighbors
Wednesday February 15th 2012, 11:59 pm
Filed under: Food,Friends,Life

“What is your name?” she asked me.

My friend Becca had put out the word to a few of us that her neighbors were halfway across the world from home and were having their first baby. We had all been first-time parents ourselves; we knew everybody needs their mom when they’re coping with a newborn for the first time. You love them more than life itself and it is so very sweet an experience–but it is all so totally new for you and for the baby itself, who is learning to adjust to this day/night thing, needing to be held, fed, changed, bathed, wrapped, sung to, held some more, the parents needing time simply to take in the wonder that is this brand new human being who sometimes manages to get both eyes to look in unison straight into your own and into your whole soul.

We weren’t the grandmother. But at least we could help. Being a bunch of Mormons, we did the Mormon cultural thing: we signed up on Becca’s list to take turns bringing dinner for the new mom and dad to help them not have to worry about spending time buying or preparing food (or at least, not so much) while needing to hold their baby. Let the parents just be parents for a little while.

It occurs to me that this is our version of sitting shiva, at the start of life rather than the end, although both are so needed in their own times.

For me this was also a chance to make food that Richard loves and I do too but that I can’t risk eating much of anymore since my colectomy. Split pea soup? A favorite, although I substituted out the ham for chicken (rotisseried by Costco, gotta have a little salt to it) for cultural if not religious dietary reasons for the couple.  It simmered away for two hours, filling the house with the peas and the carrots and the big onion.

Into a disposable/reusable snap container.

Blackberry cobbler. Got about a third of the 13×9’s worth onto a sturdy paper plate, covered with plastic wrap.

Now the question was how to walk from my car carrying this in one hand with a cane in the other and my funky balance and not dropping anything–and I had just seen a perfectly able-bodied man dropping his 18 ounces of blackberries across the floor earlier when I was buying mine. The only big box around was–well, here, I could slide the items in sideways since this two-milk-jug one seems to be all there is. And then close up the box in case I stumble. And then carefully open the box once I get there so that she doesn’t put it upright like it looks like it ought to be and scramble the cobbler all over.

I got there. I rang the bell. A beautiful new mom with her dark-haired newborn over her shoulder answered, apologizing for her dog’s barking, saying it had become protective of the new baby.

Protective is good! I affirmed, hooking my cane over my arm to get it out of the way and getting that box open to show her what was inside, along with my card tucked in there: if she needed to ask any questions about what was in the food I wanted her to be able to reach me.

The dog was not convinced I was friendly. It helped keep the visit short; I put the food down where the woman asked, just inside the door. The baby was SO cute. (And so tiny! You forget how small they start…)

Such a short moment in our lives. And so important. Welcome to the world, little one! Welcome to motherhood, to the mom: we’re all here for you. We understand.

I am so glad I didn’t let the chance run away from me undone.

5 Comments so far
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Comment by Bev 02.16.12 @ 8:34 am

Stop! Stop! You’re making me hungry! Am used to make absolutely delicious split pea soup, with ham leftover from Honey Baked ham.

Nonetheless, you certainly do find unexpected ways to help. New moms, little babies! Wow!

Comment by Don Meyer 02.16.12 @ 9:50 am

Trying again, now that my computer has crashed and restored itself…

Comment by Channon 02.16.12 @ 11:17 am

Oh, I remember when I used to do the baby shower circuit! I always gave “the gift of time.” Made up a three day pack of homemade frozen dinners, including the vegetables and desserts. Stuck them in a nice new cooler, tied a bow on top with a sippy cup or bottle and viola! A nice shower gift. My family liked it too because they always got the extras.

Comment by afton 02.16.12 @ 11:53 am

I love that idea! I’m grateful you got to see the wonderful new angel! 🙂 Round and round it goes…

Comment by Suzanne in Montreal 02.16.12 @ 6:54 pm

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