Thursday, August 7, 2008

Left-Wing Butterflies

I made butterfly cookies today for my baby girl's first birthday party using an antique cookie press. My mom has had one for years, and then she gave me one. Search "Vintage Mirro Cooky Pastry Press" on Ebay, and you'll find about thirty. For seven bucks plus shipping you can own one of your own. The contraption is basically an aluminum canister with a screw top twisty thing that pushes dough out through a stencil and onto the cookie sheet. We always made them for Christmas when I was little. Some of the templates are Christmas trees and some are stars. There is even a camel.

Making these cookies takes patience and some practice. In case you decide to give it a whirl let me pass on a little advice: be sure you chill the dough before you begin pressing the cookies, chill the dough again in between each tray, and do not by any means attempt to press cookies in a boiling hot kitchen with no ventilation like the tiny kitchen in the tiny studio apartment we rented at a crazy low price for the first five years we were married. The cookies will staunchly refuse to break from the press and you'll end up with columns of Christmas trees snaking out across your one square foot of counter space like play dough.

This past Christmas I took at look at some of the other templates just for fun. Very 1950s. Very Good Housekeeping Seal of Approval. Which the device proudly sports. Many of these cookie designs would be just right for a "bridge night" or "ladies guild luncheon." But I was particularly taken by the butterfly. And I decided that evening in December that my wee gal's first birthday party would be a butterfly theme. Call me Martha. But I like themes.

So how do I feel about my baby, my teeny tiny baby, turning one? Frankly, it seems completely impossible. There is no way she can be one. I was just pregnant, like, five minutes ago. As my friend Katie said when we were strolling our strollers in the park today, "I still think I'm pregnant. When I pass pregnant women, I smile at them knowingly and I'm completely astonished when they don't smile back. Especially when I'm with him." She nodded to her sweet-faced 8-month-old. I have done the exact same thing. With the exact same puzzling results. Ok, sure I don't have the heartburn, but I'm still part of the club, right?

I try to remember what I thought when I passed women pushing strollers while I was pregnant. In early August. In the stinky stinky city. I suppose I was so totally wrapped up in my own experience (ie. trying to make it to the subway without peeing in my pants, throwing up, doubling over from Braxton Hicks contractions, or allowing stomach acid to completely erode what remained of my esophagus) that I didn't even notice them. This was my pregnancy. Sure other women had been pregnant before...but not like me. I do remember smiling at other pregnant women like we were members of a not-so-secret sorority. But actual Moms...they had crossed some kind of Rubicon that I, up until the minute that pitocin was racing through me, and honestly, even for a few hours after that...kinda didn't think I'd ever cross. Sure I was pregnant, but I wasn't ever going to be one of those women pushing a Maclaren in the park.

And now I have a one-year-old. And a Maclaren. How did this happen?

Much as I'd like to take the butterfly analogy and run with it...sorry, it ain't happening. I don't think I'm spreading my beautiful wings and flying off over the Gulf of Mexico. If anything, I'm going back inside. Wrapping myself and my wee gal up in some kind of cocoon of homeness and safety and warmth and organic food and expensive car seats and BPA-free sippy cups. Weaving a giant silky net around her while I still can. Making cookies with the same antique cookie press and the same recipe that my Mom uses.

Despite my hard-earned expertise, many of the cookies came out lopsided. I pondered eating all of the mess-ups. Raw. (There's a benefit of being kicked out of the preggo club--bring on the cookie dough and soft cheese.) Or smooshing them back in the press to try again.

And then I realized: they are "Left Wing" butterflies. Which made me giggle, alone in my kitchen.

And then I looked forward to the day that I could tell my baby girl that joke, and hear her giggle too. And then fly away.

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