July 11, 2011: Heather Lalley

July 11, 2011: Heather Lalley

Should-Be-Doing List:

Pitching freelance articles
Looking for ways to promote my book
Re-launching my blog
Searching for a job at a bakery

Actually-Doing List:

Changing diapers
Breastfeeding every two hours
Walking a fussy baby up and down the hall of the condo
Singing the Addams Family theme song over and over to elicit gummy, slobbery smiles


It’s raining. We’ve just walked the 7-year-old down Irving Park Road to summer camp. “We” are me – the mom – and Emma – the 52-day-old baby girl strapped to my chest – snoozing in her carrier. I’m writing standing up, swaying my hips and shushing every time I feel her stir.

When her big brother was tiny, I went right back to work as a newspaper reporter. But not this time.  I guess I’m a stay-at-home-mom now. Or a WAHM. Or some such crazy acronym.

As a hard-charging, career-focused journalism student at Northwestern back in the ‘90s, I looked at SAHMs with much the same respect I’d offer  a cigarette butt wedged in a sidewalk crack. So pathetic, I’d tsk-tsk. Such a waste of a decent brain; throwing away a career to wipe someone’s butt and sing “Little Bunny Foo-Foo.”

But now that's me, I guess. You can understand the battle going on in my brain.

Oh, sure. I’m still “working.” Frantically pitching stories and writing during brief snippets of nap time. Lining up signings for my new farm-to-table cookbook while Emma coos in her vibrating chair. Praying I can finish a phone interview without background wailing.

I graduated from the baking and pastry program at Washburne Culinary Institute this spring, though, after two years of hard work. And I worry this time off will make it tough to find a job. I expended too much effort and cash on that degree to just be the room mom who makes pretty cupcakes.

But then I think: Emma will never be 52 days old again. This is my last baby.

In a blink, she’ll be as big as her brother – all knobby knees and grubby fingernails, flying across the playground.

And I look down at her peach fuzzy head and think, today, this is just where I should be.


About the author: Heather Lalley is a mom, wife, recovering journalist, recent culinary-school graduate and author of the just-released “Chicago Homegrown Cookbook.” Find her on Twitter @flourgrrrl.

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