“What’s mommy doing?”
It’s William’s new phrase. Most often the answer is something he already knows but for some reason wants me to verbalize, so all throughout the day I answer with: “I’m driving” or “I’m cooking” or “I’m folding your pajamas.”
It is a simple, straightforward question—what are you doing?—and it’s not one intended to produce heaps of guilt unless, of course, the person being asked, “What are you doing?” is doing something she shouldn’t be.
William’s second most popular phrase is: “Want some of that.” As in, I just fed him a healthy, well-balanced lunch, but he sees my lightly toasted English muffin loaded with butter, and though there is no way he can physically be hungry after his sandwich and apples and carrots and milk and cheese stick, it’s not hunger that consumes him. It’s desire. So he points and says, “Want some of that.”
Perhaps it is human nature to want what is on someone else’s plate more than we want what is on our own. William is not exceptionally greedy, just mildly so. He doesn’t want all of what I have—just a part. Just a taste. Just enough to take a little from the integrity of the whole. Just some. For YEARS I have been doing this to John, so I guess it serves me right. Payback, as they say, is … well… a polite young woman.
So this polite young woman shares.
Except recently I’ve been craving sweets. A lot of them. As a rule, I don’t keep sweets in the house because unlike a normal human being who can have one slice of cake or one scoop of ice cream, the inner child in me comes out and I can’t stop myself from consuming the whole thing. And I’m not talking about the cute, carefree inner child. I mean the inner child that for years wore the “husky” pants.
“Husky,” which is an appropriate title for a dog or a football player, is not an adjective coveted by little girls. So while others ate candy bars, I was given celery. While others had gummies, I received grapes.
Slowly the huskiness faded, not from a growth spurt (when one grows at a rate of a centimeter or two per year, “spurt” is also not the appropriate word for one’s growth progression). No, the huskiness faded from learning how to run, and also (God bless that woman) from my mother’s insistence on the celery.
I have, generally speaking, never fully reverted to the husky days since then. Although, I have flirted with them occasionally—and during this pregnancy, thanks to all the holiday dessert leftovers, my sweet-craving, pregnant self has been steadily packing on more than the appropriate amount of pounds since Thanksgiving. William has benefited (or suffered) from my cookie consumption because amid trying to teach him to share, I feel obligated to share a little, too. Over time, however, I’ve started to worry that I’ve been giving William too many sweets. A more cognizant woman whould have taken this as a sign to cut out sweets entirely. I took it as a sign to cut out sweets in his presence. For weeks, as soon as I put William down for his nap, I would run downstairs to the kitchen like a raccoon to a fresh garbage load. With lights off and cabinet doors wide open, I would shove my face full of cookies or cannolis or slices of pound cake in perfect solitude.
Then it hit me a couple of weeks ago that my glucose-screening test was coming up and my intake of sugar to normal food was not at an appropriate level. To put an end to the naptime eating I “hid” the sweets in freezer section of our side-by-side refrigerator. Hiding, as a general practice, works best when one doesn’t know where the hidden items actually are. Nevertheless, at least the bottom drawer of the freezer was out of my direct line of vision, and in order to eat the frozen goodies I’d hypothetically have to allow for a certain amount of time for them to thaw.
Unfortunately, instead of stopping me, I realized that by actually hiding myself in the freezer, I could consume the sweets at any time of the day without William knowing what I was doing. He could be sitting right in his booster seat, and I could be “putting something away,” while actually using the freezer door to shield my clandestine cookie consumption from view. It was genius. Pure genius. Sure, the frozen cookies weren’t as good as normal ones, but they were still cookies. Cookies, more importantly, I didn’t have to share.
This covert cookie eating went on successfully for some time. Then as these things go, I got too comfortable. I got sloppy.
I know, rationally, that right after breakfast is not an appropriate time for eating cookies. It is, however, an appropriate time for cleaning up breakfast dishes, and recently William and I have gotten into the routine whereby when I am washing dishes, he wades into the playroom to play with his trains alone. I can still hear him and see him from the sink. But the playroom is out of sight of the refrigerator, and on this fateful cookie-eating morning, I recognized my opportunity and seized it. Opening the freezer, I crouched down to the bottom drawer and pulled out the Ziploc bag of chocolate chip cookies. After the first cookie, I decided that I could lump at least one more in with the category of “breakfast,” therefore making the calories null and void. The second cookie was my downfall.
When our freezer is open too long, the door starts to beep, warning you to shut it. I ignored the beep. Lady and William did not ignore the beep. From the playroom, I heard the pitter patter of little footsteps, followed by the thump of a tail against the wall. They knew I was eating. And they were coming.
Instead of stopping, instead of closing the cookie stash as fast as I could and hiding the evidence, I began shoving the rest of the chocolate chip cookies in my mouth like someone in a hotdog eating contest. There were many things I should have thought in this moment. Instead I thought: CHEW FASTER! THEY’RE COMING!
The pitter-patter quickened. The tail thudded louder. Suddenly they were upon me.
I didn’t even have the wherewithal to stand up. I just squatted there at the bottom freezer drawer until that cherubim of a face looked me in the eyes and said: “What’s mommy doing?”
Is this what I’ve come to?
Hiding in our freezer, shoving my face full of frozen chocolate chip cookies?
I couldn’t even open my mouth to tell him the truth because there was so much in there that if I did, half-frozen cookie crumbs would come spilling out.
William smelled the cookies, which had been noticeably absent from the counter for some time now. He looked harder at me and then at the freezer. I could see his mind churning, thinking: cookies are not stored in the freezer. But the smell was undeniable. It was probably oozing from my pores.
“Cookies?” he said, realization sweeping his face. “Cookies!”
I was still chewing–as fast as I possibly could, while also trying to keep my jaw from moving so he would know what I’d done.
He pointed to my mouth.
“Want some of that.”
I wanted to explain, but I had to swallow first, repeatedly. As he waited, I pulled out the empty freezer bag and tried to show him that they were all gone. He looked from the bag, to me, then back to the bag, incredulous.
“Want some of that, please?”
Before he started to cry, or I actually had to explain, I reached deep into the bottom freezer drawer and pulled out a bag of red and green M&M’s from Christmas.
“Look, William!” I said. “You can have a red M&M!”
He looked at the disappointing bag of M&M’s. I don’t even like M&M’s, but I’ve kept them around because when the baked goods are all gone, M&M’s suffice as something sugary and not good for me. Perhaps, in his own way, William rationalized this, too. When I handed him a red M&M, he didn’t oppose it, but he also didn’t eat it—not yet.
First he asked, “And a green one?”
I obliged—how could I not—and he popped the two tiny candies in his mouth, satisfied.
Later, I wanted to confess what I’d done. But when I started to tell John how I’d been eating too many sweets and generally had been acting like a pig, or a rabid raccoon, he did the nicest thing in the whole world—and probably what any husband of any pregnant woman should do—and he told me it was okay, and that I look fine. That I’m pregnant. That the extra pounds are good for the baby. I wanted to be shamed, but instead he responded like I was normal—like this is America, who doesn’t occasionally shove their face full of frozen chocolate chip cookies?
So instead of telling him the truth, I just said, “Okay,” and I pulled my shape-wear up a little higher.
And also, tomorrow I decided, maybe I’d try to eat some celery.