I had this idea, over the weekend, that I would make sweet potato gnocchi.
I can’t explain why, exactly. I have never made gnocchi before. I have never even eaten gnocchi before.
But we had a pan of sweet potatoes already baked, and the recipe seemed so easy. (It was called “Easy Sweet Potato Gnocchi.” This was a lie.)
(Well. The “sweet potato” part was accurate.)
And shouldn’t everyone try making gnocchi once in their life? Maybe we would turn out to love gnocchi, and make it twice a week! Maybe we would be glad to have tried!
So that’s how I came to be presiding over a large mixing bowl, a potato masher, and a jar of cinnamon with its lid off, thinking, why did I choose to do this, why why no really why, while smashing together yams and gluten-free baking mix.
The counters were wet, my hands were sticky, and I was starting to panic just a little because I had no idea how much longer baby Evelyn would sleep before needing to nurse.
Eli came up behind me holding a cucumber (how he got that, I do not know) and a potato peeler (ditto). “I do it myself?”
The boy is two. He was going to need some help.
And I was making gnocchi.
It’s not like I had a shortage of things to do, either. Library books needed to be collected and returned, laundry spilled out into the hallway, diapers would need to be washed soon.
From somewhere upstairs: “Mom? Can you help me find my Ramona book?”
And I was making gnocchi.
Other people do not have this problem. My husband can hear about a project—oh, people make gnocchi? Hmm, interesting—and then move on, never to think about it again. Once it’s in my brain, though, I pretty much have to try. Gnocchi gnocchi gnocchi gnocchi.
But listen, you can’t do everything.
If you want to be a world-class wrestler, don’t spend your afternoons trying to write screenplays.
If you want to be a master gardener, maybe don’t bother with sewing your own pillowcases.
If you want to parent and write and read and make things and also sometimes sleep, you don’t have to learn to cook potato noodles and serve them in cheese sauce. I know this already! And yet. There I was, with a sticky mixing bowl, a soup pot covered in baked-on sweet potato froth, and six pathetic orange noodle-balls.
This is not about lowering your standards, though that’s probably a good idea too. We’ve never been the sort of family that eats gnocchi for lunch. We will never be the sort of family that eats gnocchi for lunch. I think that’s about as low as gnocchi-for-lunch standards can go.
This is about remembering to spend your energy on things that are important to you, and to let go of the rest.
I looked at my bowl of slimy-but-homemade potato noodles.
“Okay! So!” I said. “Who wants hummus and rice cakes for lunch?”