Today I fed my 5-month old daughter with a spoon for my first time ever. She just started eating baby cereal about a week ago and I’ve been eager to give it a shot!
I’ve been paying close attention to the master feeders in our little village, AKA Grandma Yaya and Grandma GG. There seems to be a method to the mess: preload the right amount of baby cereal into the spoon, get Eva’s attention, time the spoon entry with the mouth opening and do a quick clean up before going for the next spoon full.
Seems pretty straightforward--let’s rock this spoon!
So I turn on “Spoonman” by Soundgarden (RIP Chris Cornell), get Eva all bibbed up and upright in her chair and prepare the rice cereal. This magic formula is one part organic cereal and three parts breast milk! Mmmm, it smells exactly like something Eva would love to eat! In fatherly pride I marvel at the culinary masterpiece. I almost taste it myself, and then remember that I did that already yesterday. Once is enough on thatt.
Right away I see that this is going to be a bigger challenge than I thought. Eva is bending forward so much in her chair that I can’t even get her attention. She’s doubled over trying to eat her own bib!
“Eva! Eva darling, look up here. Look at daddy, I have your food.”
But she doesn’t look up. She doesn’t even understand the words that I am saying! And she’s starting to fuss because she is hungry and her bib is not nourishing her appetite.
So I pry her head up and get her into an upright position again and quickly try to insert the slop-covered spoon into her mouth.
Fail. Silly daddy, wait for her mouth to open.
So I wait, and she folds forward again. Then I lift her head and she moans in agitation. How in the world do I get this food inside my baby? I am starting to get concerned that I might not have what it takes to feed my own child.
And mommy is having an afternoon to herself. Shit. This could get ugly.
Finally, by a stroke of luck, I’m able to get half a spoonful into her mouth. Her eyes get big and she starts sucking on her own tongue.
Game on, let’s eat.
Over the next ten minutes daddy and daughter do the dance of scoop, distract, time the entry with the opening of the mouth and quickly cleaning up the cereal that missed the target.
Before we knew it, we finished the tiny bowl of cereal! Huzzah! I ripped the bib off of Eva and cleaned her filthy mush face with a wipey.
That was kinda rough. But it will get easier. Deep breath.
The more experiences I have with my daughter, the more I see that she and I have a lot in common. For example, she and I both love to eat. We both love Mom more than anything in the world. We like to travel and have adventures. And we both get pissed off when we’re tired.
In this way, as I become more connected to her, I see that she is a great reflection for me in my own life. Sure, infants don’t speak words, but they are great teachers if we are willing to be present and learn from them.
I can relate especially well to Eva as she struggles to learn how to eat cereal from a spoon. For one, changing the patterns of what I eat can be very hard. For example, every time I stop drinking coffee, it’s a painful transition. I get headaches and am fabulously lethargic and irritable for about four days. Also, saying goodbye to bread and dairy last year was also very challenging. I still miss it, though I do not miss the bloating and gas.
This whole spoon feeding experience also resonated with me on a deeper level. Just like my daughter, a 5-month old infant, sometimes I too am so distracted that I can’t even receive nourishment. While Eva annoyedly eats her bib instead of the perfectly mounded cereal spoon, I stuff myself with a seemingly unending list of fillers. Caffeine, sugar, burritos, cheap meat, alcohol, and the list goes on. And that’s just the edible distractions (I won’t mention here how social media, drugs, TV, news, bad quality air and water, and negative thinking are getting in my way).
I’m grateful to my daughter for giving me the great privilege and once-in-a-lifetime (please Goddess) opportunity to witness human evolution on a microcosmic level. All of these first-time experiences are mini transformations that can be reminders to us that change is possible--in fact change is inevitable. All it takes is a little support from the tribe, patient practice, resting, digesting and expressing to get us to the next level.
I know that baby Eva will receive spoonfuls of cereal more gracefully and joyously as we move forward together in this relationship. She will hold her head up high, open her mouth wide and receive the nourishment that her mother, father and grandparents offer her.
And I bestow this blessing upon myself and all other humans as well. May we stop distracting ourselves from the truth--that we are being nourished by the Mother Earth and Father Sky. All we have to do is look up and say “ahh.”
Andrew Belinsky RYT-500 is a yogic counselor and music facilitator who's on a mission to inspire joy and wellness in individuals and communities around the globe. He leads online group programs and retreats that are designed to help people activate their inner healer using daily movement, breath and meditation practices. Find more information at www.AndrewBelinskyYogaAndSound.com He currently lives in San Diego with his wife Flow and daughter Eva.