Don’t push us ’cause we’re close to the edge
There will come a point in my career as a housewife/stay-at-home mom when someone will ask “So, what do you do all day?”. Lucky for that person, that time has not yet come. Anyone who has met me and Miss Maybe Baby seems to understands that our days are not spent in docile domesticity. She is a flibbertigibbet. A will-o’-the wisp. A clown. By the way, don’t take that bag of sliced turkey meat from her. Don’t mess.
I definitely understand why I’d be questioned about my daytime activities as a stay-at-home mom. There is a framing issue. The phrase “stay-at-home mom” is implicitly different from the job titles of “daycare worker” and “nanny”, yet our job descriptions are nearly identical. That bag of baby poop that I’ve wiped off her butt is mine to keep though.
We’re tryin’ not to lose our heads
Perhaps a more interesting question is how my new life compares to my former pre-baby life. One point of comparison is my average level of stress experienced throughout the day. Below is a chart describing the levels of difficulty experienced throughout my typical day as a mother compared to my former life as a data analyst.
At first glance, my average day as a mother seems less difficult as it lacks the sharp spike in afternoon stress that I used to experience as a data analyst. Upon closer examination, there is a heightened level of activity/consciousness experienced throughout my day as a mother that results in a higher average level of difficulty. Even the late hours at the consulting firm would eventually diminish into that much sought-after, yet now elusive, chunk of time known as a full night’s rest.
Can’t nobody hold me down, oh no, I got to keep on movin’
In my new career, my sanity pivots on my ability to practice and build my knowledge of things outside the realms of diapering, meal-planning, and infant sleep analysis. When balance occurs, harmony means I’m working a job that is infinitely more gratifying than that of a 9-to-whenever whatever.
Instead of work/life balance, it’s now about work/self balance. As opposed to getting in nights out between days of work, I now attempt to get in some quality “me time” between my daily tasks. Most of the time it’s baking bread, other times it’s cake, and now and again, a pie! Sometimes I even venture outside the realm of household management, and create a pretty Excel chart.
The most important questions I have to answer are the ones I ask myself. I love what I have the privilege of doing, and it is the best job I have ever had.
Basic Sourdough Bread
Baking sourdough bread is a process that is usually spread out over a course of two days. It sounds like it requires as much attention as my child, but the slow fermentation process actually means there’s more flexibility for someone who predictably expects the unexpected all day long. I now use a KitchenAid mixer as opposed to kneading the dough with my hands. Less fun, but much more convenient when I have to quickly prevent my child from emptying all the drawers and cabinets in the kitchen. She’s a tactile learner.
recipe adapted from Northwest Sourdough
Yield: 1 large two pound loaf of bread
Active time: 30 minutes; Rising times: 5 hours for bulk fermentation, 2.5 hours for final rise; Baking time: 35 minutes
- The night before you plan on baking, refresh your starter so that you have 1 cup of vigorous starter.
- The next morning, in a large mixing bowl, whisk 1 cup of warm water into the starter.
- Stir in 4 cups of bread flour and 2 tsp of olive oil. Mix until ingredients are combined. In a KitchenAid Mixer, this takes about a minute on Speed 2. Cover with plastic wrap and let sit for 20 minutes.
- Add 1 tsp of salt, and knead for 10 minutes until smooth. In a mixer, mix on Speed two for about 3 minutes. Cover and let rise until doubled, which should be around 5 hours at room temperature.
- After the dough has risen, prepare a floured banneton, or floured linen towel inside of a colander.
- On a floured or lightly oiled surface, shape the risen dough into a boule by gently pulling the outer edges of the dough under and pinching the seams together. Repeat until the dough has a nice surface tension, and place the dough into the banneton, seam side up. Sprinkle with flour and cover with a kitchen towel, allowing it to rise until almost doubled in size, which takes about 2-2.5 hours at room temperature.
- Pre-heat oven to 450°F with a baking stone large enough to accommodate the size of the boule.
- Carefully invert the banneton onto a floured board, slash the top with an x and slide the dough onto the baking stone, covering the dough with an aluminum foil dome. Bake for 20 minutes.
- Uncover the loaf, and turn the heat down to 425°. Bake for another 10-15 minutes.
- The loaf should be done when the internal temperature is at least 190° F.3 Cool on a wire rack for at least three hours (or until completely cool) before slicing.
1. I use a 100% hydration liquid starter, meaning a 1:1 water to flour ratio. A vigorous starter should be able to double in size by the next morning. I usually feed my starter around 10pm, and start the next step around 7am. I live in a relatively cool house, and if you are lucky enough to live in a warm environment, you might need to feed the starter earlier, then refrigerate the starter after a few hours of fermentation at room temperature.↩
2. I’ve almost always added a bit of whole wheat flour to this recipe, for nutrition’s sake. Of the 18oz of bread flour, I’ve been happiest with adding no more than about 9oz of whole wheat.↩
3. To be honest, I just tap the bottom of the loaf. If it sounds pretty hollow, I consider it done.↩