I'm at the stage of motherhood where I want to go back and relive the last 26 months all over again, knowing what I know now. Knowing that tiny infant, who needed the comfort of my chest and the warmth of my breath on the top of his head to sleep for hours, would, in the blink of an eye, grow into an independent little boy. One who, when he still crawls in bed with me to snuggle and tucks his head under my chin, stretches all the way to my knees.
I want to relive the last two years knowing it will all be okay, because when you become a mom, you don't know. In those first few days at home with our new baby, I distinctly remember a feeling of panic, because I suddenly realized I had painstakingly nurtured him in my belly and prepared for his birth, but then what? I knew nothing about taking care of a tiny human. I think I thought I was prepared, but I wasn't.
I wish I could go back and tell myself that he would eventually learn to nurse well and we would be successful at it for a full year. I wish I could tell myself he would learn to sleep in his crib, and that when he did, I would miss those days when he needed me to hold him to nap. I would tell myself that, in those first few months, or at least few weeks, I didn't have to constantly talk and sing and invent games for him. All I needed was to hold him and look him in the eyes and love him. I wish I could tell myself to go out more--seek the companionship of other moms without worrying whether Theo would cry or where I would change a diaper or if I would have to nurse in public. And that those long, sometimes boring, days between 12 and 18 months, when he was a busy toddler but not quite a little boy, would pass quickly. And soon we would be giggling and chasing each other playing hide-and-seek and taking make-believe trips to Mexico in our swing that became an airplane, with Theo as pilot.
Now, when I meet a new mom, I can sometimes see the panic in her eyes or hear in her voice how overwhelming it all is. I want to tell her it's all going to be okay. But, it's a journey we each have to go through for ourselves. Now, I just make a meal. Offer to hold the baby while she takes a shower. Or sit and listen when it's hard. And I know that soon, very soon, that tiny baby will be a little boy, climbing up on the kitchen counter, stirring flour and singing his own little song while making muffins.
I've never been a big fan of muffins. They always just seem like cupcakes disguised as something healthy, always too sweet for my taste. But one of Theo's favorite books is When You Give a Moose a Muffin, so he often wants to make muffins for 'moosey moosey.' Since it is nice to have a ready-to-eat and easily portable breakfast or snack on hand, I developed this recipe that I feel good about Theo (or anyone) eating. It's made with all whole grains, sweetened with just a little brown sugar, contains yogurt (which gives the muffins extra protein) and uses extra virgin olive oil. Especially with the added carrots and apple, they are a good source of fiber and nutrients.
When you're making these, be sure and use the whole wheat pastry flour. It has a lower gluten content than regular whole wheat flour and will give you a lighter muffin. I haven't tried it yet, but I'm pretty sure you could substitute 1/4 cup of the flour for almond meal, and that would boost the protein content even more. And, if you're trying to get more vegetables into your toddler's diet, try substituting some shredded zucchini for the carrot. It should work great.
Theo loves these muffins. I hope you do, too. They would also make a great gift for a new mom. One-handed foods are the only way to eat in those early days.