I am typing with a baby on my lap. In fact, most of the 38 posts I have written since I started this blog three months ago I wrote with a baby on my lap. He eats or climbs up my shoulder and pulls my hair or my sleeve or tries to jump off my lap, and I type. Win-win, right?
I recently read an article published about a year ago in Huffingpost Post entitled “Having It All Kinda Sucks.” The author describes an extreme situation in which she takes off exactly one day of work to have a baby. Since she works remotely from home, not of her clients saw her bulging belly, not did they know if she was on a conference call while nursing her newborn, and she is her family’s main breadwinner. She also has a 3.5-year-old out of the house until 5 o’clock and a husband who expects her to keep up with the cooking, cleaning, and laundry the same way she did before she had a baby. Her point is that American society, which influences Western society in general, creates unrealistic expectations for all women to be working mothers. “Stop telling women they can have everything without sacrificing anything. Here’s the truth: You want to have a career and kids? You totally can, but both will suffer.” Women, she claims, should not be ashamed to choose either of the alternatives–being a stay-at-home-mom or not having children.
I think everyone would agree that work-life balance is difficult, and many women second-guess their decisions related to career and family. However, this article discusses extremes. I would like to suggest a middle ground that is sometimes, depending on the field of work and family dynamics, an option. How about working part-time? If that’s not possible, why not hire a babysitter and/or a cleaning lady? I know many career-minded mothers–one who cut her maternity leave short in order not to lose a whole semester of lecturing, some who have nannies put their kids to bed almost every night, some who bring sick kids to work with them. I myself finished my Bachelor’s degree on my second maternity leave and my Master’s degree on my fifth maternity leave. Still, I don’t know anyone who went back to work full-time the day after giving birth.
I have never worked full-time. My first year working, I was pregnant and commuting 1.5-2 hours each direction, four days a week. I stayed home with my first baby for a year. After the next three, I went back to work part-time (anywhere from 16 to 30 hours a week) as soon as the legally-mandated 14-week maternity leave was up. (Good news for working mothers in Israel: Maternity leave has been lengthened to 15 weeks.) After my current baby was born, two days after moving to a new city, I decided to leave my desk job and work from home. I could have it all, to be with the baby, not miss any cute “firsts,” not need to take off for sick kids or birthday parties, and be able to keep my brain cells stimulated and make a little money at the same time. This worked for a while, until the wee one stopped taking long naps and started crawling. Forget about getting work or Pesach cleaning done, I can barely keep up with the laundry. Now, though I protested for a long time that the whole point of working from home is to be with the baby, I’m ready to send him to a babysitter for a few hours a day. Maybe I’ll even be able to start eating lunch again.
Every year, as Pesach (Passover) approaches, I clean out my freezer and closets from opened packages, especially baking supplies that may have gotten flour in them. Usually, what results is an “everything cake.” I throw things into a bowl, mix, and pray for the best. The problem is that since I’m not using a recipe, I can never recreate the same cake again. Lucky for my family, I wrote down what I put in the banana muffins I made this week to post on the blog, so they can have them again! I made muffins instead of cake because:
a) We’re out of cornflakes, and these are almost healthy enough to eat for breakfast, though not as healthy as the zucchini muffins the kids ate this morning
b) Cutting a cake makes crumbs, something I am trying to avoid now. I can stick muffins into sandwich bags and send the kids down to the park.
These are basic banana muffins with the addition of almond flavoring, instant oatmeal, chocolate chips, walnuts, and dried cranberries. A little of everything. What more could you ask for in a banana muffin? Now, I think there are just enough odds and ends in my kitchen for a big batch of kitchen sink cookies.
With these banana muffins, you really can have your cake and eat it, too.
Banana Muffins with the Works Recipe
Yield: 24 muffins
5-6 ripe bananas, at least partially defrosted and mashed (about 4 cups)
2/3 cup oil
1 cup sugar
1/4 cup date syrup
1 teaspoon vanilla
1/2 teaspoon almond extract
1 cup quick oats
2 cups whole wheat flour
1/4 teaspoon salt
2 teaspoons baking powder
1 cup chocolate chips
1/2 cup chopped walnuts
1/2 cup dried cranberries
- Defrost and mash banana. I find a potato masher works well for such a large amount, but you could manage with a fork. You don’t want the bananas frozen when they come in contact with the eggs so they won’t freeze the eggs.
- Add oil, sugar, vanilla, and almond flavoring. Mix well. (You can use a mixer if you want. I use a bowl and wooden spoon.)
- Add eggs. Mix well.
- Add flour, oats, baking powder, and salt. Mix well.
- Add chocolate chips, nuts, and dried cranberries. Mix a little, until evenly distributed.
- Bake at 180C/350F for about 20 minutes.
- These freeze well.