The Very Hungry Caterpillar

Things have changed since having a baby: I like going to the dentist. I go alone; the hygienist introduces me to The Great Canadian Baking Show and I watch two full episodes as she cleans my teeth. My mouth waters looking at all the things a dentist would say don’t eat: chocolate ganache, lemon custard, crème caramel, black forest cake. I am the very hungry caterpillar I read to my daughter at night. My body has changed in ways I’m not sure are reversible. The caterpillar bursts into a beautiful butterfly but all I seem to do is burst. I’ve ripped two pairs of jeans buckling my daughter into her car seat.

I am naming parts of the body when we dress, bathe, play. I show her my belly button—a deep-set cherry in a sponge cake. Lots of bounce back, the judges look for. Her finger finds it with a pirate’s enthusiasm when landing on buried treasure. Every diaper change, she lifts my shirt. Then we find her belly button—a bulbous thing like a door handle splattered with a café au lait. My mouth homes in on it. 

After the dentist, I shop. Gone are the days of rushing back to nurse her, the anxiety of growth curves. She drinks cow’s milk now—another change that is irreversible. I push a cart through Winners. It is lighter than a stroller and doesn’t have snack cups or water bottles flung from the sides. I buy jeans that fit, taking my time trying on this pair, then that one, going back for a second look, smiling. I’ve pulled off a great disguise. 

In the car, I welcome every stoplight, belt out an adult song and take the long way home.