Pregnancy is a test of willpower. It seems to be a series of tiny tests I conquered somewhat regularly in the second trimester but now, nearing the end and feeling fatigued most of the day most days, find myself failing one after another.
Should I get out of bed? Should I read something aside from internet trash? Should I eat something aside from cereal? Should I go to yoga? Should I get up in the middle of the night to go to the bathroom, turn to my other side, or get a drink of water? The discomfort is great but my lack of willpower is often greater. I wonder, when labor strikes, where I’ll summon up the energy to push the baby out. There is an alternative to pushing, I know, but I’m hoping all the lying around right now is actually self-preservation for the big day. One can hope.
On Saturday, Tom made pancakes. We had two small boxes of blueberries, a new carton of milk and fresh eggs. It was a balmy, late Sydney morning and I wasn’t ready to get out of bed just yet.
I read internet trash in bed, lying on my left side with a too-soft pillow between my knees while Tom cracked eggs, measured milk and sifted flour. My left hip was sore and begging me to get up and move around, but I couldn’t be bothered until I was sure the pancakes were nearly done. By the time I wandered out, half the pancakes were warming in the oven and the rest bubbling in the teflon pan. The smell of butter made me smile.
Tom had put on a pot of tea and set the table. He picked out a record – Beethoven’s Symphony No. 6 – and pressed play. With a flourish, he brought the pancakes out.
These were maybe some of the most beautiful pancakes Tom has ever made, and he’s made plenty over the years. We sat down and I took a photo, the one above.
I stabbed two and cut into one. Fluffy perfection. Not a lump of batter in sight. I took a bite.
Whoa. I made a face.
“This is really salty.”
I took another bite. My tongue burned.
“Try one from the bottom,” Tom suggested.
I did, just as he cut into the stack of three he’d made on his plate.
I watched his face, waiting for the salt to hit.
“Ugh,” he said. “These are inedible.”
“Did you use the tablespoon instead of the teaspoon?”
“No,” he said. “I even cut down the salt.”
I suspected he had used the tablespoon instead of the teaspoon, or maybe a whole teaspoon instead of a half, but they tasted much saltier than one teaspoon was capable of making even a half batch. It was a mystery, but it didn’t matter now. I felt tired again. My stomach was growling. I looked sadly at the beautiful salty pancakes and thought ahead to the bowl of Lucky Charms I was about to make.
“Ok,” said Tom, getting up and rubbing his hands together. “I’m going to remake them. Let’s toss these.”
I was tired just thinking about it, and thought he would be too. “You don’t mind doing that all over again?”
“Not at all. We wanted pancakes and we’re going to get pancakes,” Tom said.
He set out again, taking out the flour, baking powder, milk and eggs. He reached for a small bag of table salt and the spoon measures, singling out the tablespoon.
I raised an eyebrow just as he read the package.
“Oh god, I thought this was sugar!”
The recipe, when halved (for two people), calls for 3 Tbsp sugar. Tom had mistook the salt package for the sugar package – and to be fair they are very similar except of course, for the words – and put in three tablespoons of salt on top of the 1/2 teaspoon the recipe calls for.
“So I put in like ten times the salt.”
“That explains it.”
We had some strawberries left and since the blueberries were now in the trash, I chopped these and Tom mixed them into the batter.
Watching them sizzle once again in the buttered pan, I smiled at Tom. “I would not have remade them,” I said. “I would have given up and just eaten cereal.”
“Well Beefus, you can’t give up so easily.”
That’s all I want to do these days – not in a “oh what’s the point” kind of way, but in a “I just don’t have the energy” sense – despite knowing that of all the the things I should model and teach, the utmost is grit. Suddenly, I had a weird thought.
“You know that guy Sisyphus?”
“What if your punishment for something was just to crave pancakes and have to make them over and over again for eternity only to have them turn out too salty every single time?”
“That would suck,” Tom said.
Yeah. I felt deflated just thinking about it. Poor Sisyphus.
Luckily, Tom got the second batch – looks, texture and flavor – just right.* We ate them with butter and maple syrup, Beethoven giving the morning an air of class. And because I was well fed, I summoned the energy to do the dishes before heading towards the couch.