Monday, March 31, 2014

Parenthood: Week 44 – Solids

I wasn’t that excited about Ollie eating solid foods. Exclusively breastfeeding really worked for Ollie. He grew at a great pace, it was convenient and we didn’t really to worry about portion sizes and making sure that he had a balanced diet.

Some parents envision the cuteness of spaghetti being thrown around and blueberry stained lips, I just imagine the mess that such cuteness produces and the pain of cleaning up after a meal like that.

There’s conflicting information about when to start kids on solid foods and I was fine going with whatever Diana wanted to do when it came to the timing of starting solid foods. We thought about it and felt that there was no rush to get Ollie started on solids.

Ollie’s first step into solid foods was with breast milk popsicles. Diana made these little frozen breast milk things in molds that created a little popsicle about the size of a ring pop. At the same time, Ollie was teething so it seemed like the perfect thing to try. Ollie loved it. He was totally into trying to get it in his mouth.

Around the same time, we bought some baby food spoons. As soon as Diana put it in Ollie’s hand he stuck it in his mouth. We took this as a sign that Ollie wanted to start eating solids.

Soon after, we visited my parents in Seattle and my mom went crazy making purees and cooking down rice for Ollie to start eating. A couple weeks later my mom came and visited us and showed us how to steam fruits and vegetables. I started cooking eggs for him, and then mini-meat loafs. After only a couple months of eating solids, he’s often eating whatever we are eating for dinner.

There are the moments when Ollie puts too much food in his mouth without swallowing or rubs his face when he is holding a piece of fish so it gets in his eye.  Ollie often insists that he can feed himself with the spoon even though he inevitably fails to get the spoon in his mouth without tipping it over and spilling food on himself.

That’s the bad stuff, but the good stuff is great. Ollie loves and gets so much joy out of eating. It’s a mentally stimulating and an adventure for him. Even when you have apple puree thrown in your face it’s hard to get too mad when your son finds this hilarious.

I still don’t get excited about Ollie trying to eat new foods but I really do enjoy sharing meals with Ollie. I love cooking for people and it’s a great feeling to put food on the table that we all share. Even Buffy is a part of our meal, sitting below Ollie’s high chair eating the scraps that fall off his tray. 

So many of my favorite memories of my family growing up centers around, cooking and sharing meals.  Cooking for people is one of the most important ways that I show people I care about them.  I fully embrace Diana breastfeeding, but it was something that she did without me.  For months, she was almost exclusively in charge of feeding Ollie.  Even when I gave him a bottle, it was because she pumped milk ahead of time for him.  This was hard.  Because part of me was jealous that she had this connection with him and played such a central role in his development.

Even now, things aren't completely even because he still breastfeeds.  The reality is that things between parents are never "fair."  That's hard to accept but when you focus on your kid you realize that the fairness that is important is not between the parents but for the baby.  If being fair means giving a baby everything he needs to succeed then that may mean that the mom breastfeeds and that dad for months doesn't feed the baby.  That's what's most important.

This dynamic is changing.  I cook for Ollie all of the time and Diana and I take turns feeding him when he eats solids.  It's fun and it's a mess.  I still feel that little bit a jealously when I think about how much Diana sustained Ollie, but more than that I feel proud of her.

Now that I'm playing a more active role in feeding Ollie, it's not like things are more fair between us or I'm finally getting my due.  What has changed is that we now get to share in feeding our little guy and have one more activity that we do as a family.   

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