Monday, October 27, 2008


Guess why I'm up at this hour.

Yup. Little guy needed to burp and then was awake. After some patting and some off-gassing, he snuggled down in his chair and closed his eyes to ignore Thomas the Tank Engine. If I had tried to move him it would not have gone well, so I left him there and I think he's approaching the state of well and truly asleep now.

Let's talk, now and for a few days, about comfort. I've been thinking about what we do to self-soothe. As adults, thumb-sucking is out (for most of us) no matter how bad that 401K looks at any given moment. Booze is not a good choice -- it shrinks your brain and yes, I know it's a standard line but there's finally research to back it up. So what should we do about calming and comforting activities?

Well, there are the standard adult (ahem) activities. And then there are things we can choose to draw strength from, things that might under other circumstances be thought rather dull or too "usual" for real appreciation.

A few weeks ago I found in a box (more sorting) a favorite old silk nightie, the color of my eyes, a little, ordinary piece of cloth. But it's silk. And it has these little straps. And how often does one come across such a thing? It's sort of like finding money in a pocket -- only this is capital that represents happiness shared, something nice, a little space of decadence in an otherwise stridently spare time. I began wearing it to bed. I swear it has affected my dreams. Q mostly stays in his own bed on those nights, I don't know why (never look a gift horse...). I suspect the combination of something nice next to my skin and the quietness of the boy are what's letting me wake on those mornings feeling a smidge more buoyant, more like a grown-up who's about some thing of importance, and generally not at all like someone who checks her clothes for puke before leaving the house.

I thought about this as the market began it's cliff-diving regimen -- how such a small thing can soothe so nicely, if allowed. Then I wondered what else I might have in my power to elevate to such a position. The kids would benefit from feelings of the same -- they're not clueless about the stresses of the times, the fact that I breathe a little lighter as the gas prices fall, or count pennies in order to keep the ducks swimming, balls in the air, whatever metaphor you prefer.

Well, there's food. We're eating anyway. There's good stuff in the pantry -- which I reorganized and labeled and now it's so spiffy that we'll be the neighborhood center for disaster preparedness. But I digress. Since we have to do food to survive, one might as well make something a little bit more special, once in awhile at least, even if it's just soup. Homemade minestrone, for example. Or how about whipping up a lentil curry soup? What about tossing together slices of red bell peppers, yellow cherry tomatoes, a light dressing of balsamic vinegar, olive oil, Hawaiian Black sea salt, the bit of leftover feta and thinly sliced, sweet red onion? How about Delicata squash stuffed with amaranth (think polenta), pecans, shallots, and garlic? Mmm -- kale, shredded and seasoned, sauted til tender with a little smoky saltiness. Or is it salty smokiness? One might sprinkle Herbes de Provence on one's frozen pizza or butternut squash just after it comes out of the oven. There's always homemade chocolate pudding. What about just taking the time to slurp up a really great pear? Yum.

I guess the point is that even as we experience a slowing of the economy, we can take the time to really experience the simultaneous slowing of the family, the processes in which we all partake. Whether it's very good food, a formerly missing nightie, or evening schoolwork or instrument practice, we can glean a little soothing from right where we are. Having time for a little more interaction is a good thing -- especially if we take it just a little further and think how we might add to the soothing of the others in our everyday circle of influence.

Kinder words? Longer hugs? A full, goofy smile upon greeting them? Perhaps there's something you've been meaning to tell someone and you just haven't quite gotten around to it. Now's the time. Be the blessing.

I'm going to go see if I can yet convince the wee one to allow himself to be carried back to bed for a nice long sleep and try to bless my group with steel-cut oats with brown sugar and cream in the morning. (Add your ideas in the comment section below.)



BBA said...

Avocado, cream cheese, lightly salted and peppered on white bread.

Anonymous said...

I'm drooling ... great post! Tonight we had baked potato/leek soup with some homemade bread. It was extra-good because my kids made the whole meal.

Anonymous said...

Thinly sliced eggpland, oiled and grilled, smeared with goat cheese, topped with a basil leaf and drizzled with some balsamic vingegar. It's purple and greeeeeen, for heaven's sake, and now I'm hungry. Lovely post. I want a nightie like that!