Thursday, January 13, 2011

Paula Deen and Postpartum Depression

In February of last year, we decided to take a little road trip to Savannah, Georgia.  I had been wanting to go to Paula Deen's restaurant, The Lady and Sons, for years so my husband finally obliged me (smart man!). It was the best time of year to go.  There were no crowds and the weather was sunny and a balmy 70 degrees the whole time we were there. 

It was a wonderful time for us.  And I gotta tell ya, the buffet really was excellent, the service was even better and the sweet tea was perfect.  Great experience over all and the city of Savannah is breathtaking in areas. 
This was a special trip for me in more ways than one. Back in 2005, I gave birth to my baby boy, Alexander. First time motherhood, is well, it's an experience. 
My husband was still in the military and we had moved to Texas just 2 weeks after I gave birth.  I had no clue what I was doing. I didn't know anyone in Texas and my family was over 1,000 miles away.  Also, I had decided to be a stay at home Mom for a while.  That, in and of itself, was scary because I had been working a 9-5 job from the time I was 18. Here I was, nearly 30 years old, and had no clue what to expect.  Well, I soon found out.

 I was ecstatic about my new baby. He was absolutely perfect and I still cry every time I think about how much I love him. I also began to see another side of my husband that was amazing and loving. He is such a great father. But what I also got was a collicky baby, a touch of agoraphobia, and a little postpartum depression thrown in for good measure.
On the one hand I was a happy new mom and on the other hand, I was becoming more and more withdrawn from the outside world. And that's where Paula Deen comes in. Back in 2005, her show was really just getting started. She still filmed in New York at some one else's house.  But I started watching her show because she felt like home to me.  She cooked the foods I like to eat and it felt like my Mom showing me how to cook.  She made me laugh and she was so humble and imperfect that it was inspiring. 

 It had been years since I really cooked.  I mean, REALLY cooked.  I made lunch and dinners for my husband and I but we both worked so much that I rarely spent much time putting any effort in. I had forgotten the enjoyment of cooking that I had as a kid because, well, life kinda got in the way.  
So here I was, at home with some time on my hands, and a kitchen and a fridge full of food.  So, I started cooking.  And cooking some more. And baking a little more and before I knew it, I was really getting into it and actually looked forward to going to the base commissary.  

Sure, I was making some huge mistakes (still do!) and I burned a few things and oversalted quite a few things but it started giving me a release.  It reignited my love for cooking and being in the kitchen.  I became passionate, not only about my new baby but also about cooking.  It was like I found something I had lost and finally remembered where it was.  I was given a new sense of purpose and it was something that I was doing for me, not just for my son or husband.
  I slowly came back out of my shell and that funk that I had been in. And I thank Paula Deen for that and also my baby.  If it wasn't for him, I wouldn't have been a stay-at-home Mom in the first place and I may never have started cooking in earnest. He inspires me to make good food for him and he is now my little helper in the kitchen.
My baby, he loves fried chicken and hoe cakes. Bless him.


So that trip to Savannah was special to me.  It was like things were coming full-circle. I didn't get to meet Paula but I felt a connection with her by just eating at her joint. And although I may never meet her, I will never forget what Paula Deen and her show meant to me in those early days of motherhood and also the lasting effect it has on me today. 




19 comments :

Siggy Spice said...

THAT was a fabulous post :) Thank you for sharing. It is a total goal of mine to get down to Savannah this year...and of course, Lady and Sons is on the "to-do" list!

thecountrycook said...

You know, it was kind of cathartic for me to write that. Guess I should've thrown a recipe in there somewhere, huh?

Sandra said...

Wonderful post, and I love your photos!!! I am planing over summer to go and check it out myself!!

Cakewalker said...

Beautiful, heartfelt story! You have a way with words... I smiled when you described the house Paula'a first couple of years were taped in. That gorgeous yellow home with the white gingerbread trim belongs to her producer, Gordon Elliott. Speaking of beautiful, so is your family. No worries about a foodless post - sometimes the journey is the only entree we need.

Pam @ Sticks Forks Fingers said...

Help comes from some strange places sometimes, yes? Who would have thought it?

What a beautiful family you are! The men in your life, both large and small, are adorable. Your photos make me miss that sweet scent of child hair that little boys possess. It's cliche, but enjoy every minute. They are here, then they're gone. Blink. Poof. But the man version of a son is pretty awesome too.

Carolyn said...

This is such a sweet, sweet post, it brought tears to my eyes. I too am far from family and friends, and although I never experienced full on PPD, I had some of the baby blues after my first child and I will never forget how awful that felt.
I am so glad cooking and baking gave you such joy, as did your sweet boy!

Mama J said...

Great post. Stay-at-home moms are never just stay-at-home moms. Be proud- you are doing a great thing. :)

Annie said...

Thanks so much for sharing that with us. It is so wonderful to have something that we can pour our blues into like cooking and baking.

thecountrycook said...

Thank you for all the really lovely comments. It was a growing (and humbling)experience for me. But I don't suppose we can grow and evolve without a few growing pains. Just wanted to give everyone a little insight into how I got into cooking. Thanks for the support :)

Major Mom said...

Beautiful, well written story! Paula Deen "performed" at the NC State Fair back in 2007 or 2008 and I remember her show selling out before any of the musical acts (i.e. rock stars like Avril Lavigne or something on that order) did! I enjoy many of her recipes -- like Gorilla Bread, her special version of Monkey Bread :-)

Kay Heritage said...

Anytime you come back for a visit, please drop me a note! I would love to take you back to Paula's place and few other local favorites!

Back 19 years ago before Paula Deen became well known, she was nicknamed "The Bag Lady". She would make yummy sandwiches and visit offices in Savannah to sell where I worked. Very humble beginning for Ms. Deen. :)

thecountrycook said...

Kay - I sure will! It really would have been nice to have a local show us around. We did our best to get around but only a local can really give you the best tour. Thank you so much for the offer. We would love to go back again!

Janis said...

Hey sweetie, I met Paula Deen at a food festival that I had VIP passes to. She was as sweet in person as on T.V. I can't eat her food because I would A) end up with a heart attack or B) Need a crane to lift my ass off this chair I am writing you from.

thecountrycook said...

Janis - that is hilarious. She really does seem like a good soul. Yes, I love rich foods but I definitely have to eat them in smaller portions. Especially as I get older and have issues with acid reflux...lol. Nice to connect with you. I really enjoy reading your blog!

whatsfordinneracrossstatelines said...

This is so sweet! I have a tip where you can find a bunch of other like minded ladies, it's www.RWOP.com and if you like entering cooking contests, you should join the fun. I'm a fan too! Have a great weekend!
-Gina-

thecountrycook said...

Thank you so much Gina - I'll check it out!

Becky said...

Such a heartwarming post. I'm sure that you will be forever grateful for Paula Deen. Your little guy is so cute. I have 3 sons, and they grow up so fast. Thanks for sharing your wonderful story.

I was in Savannah last spring, but we didn't get to go to Paula's restaurant.

Rhondi said...

I just love Paula Deen! I enjoyed reading this post and I think it's great how you were able to find new self after being inspired. You have a lovely family and I look forward to seeing what else you have cookin' in the kitchen.

a soldiers wife said...

What a great story you shared! and I have to agree about Paula Deen and Lady & Sons. We took a trip there last summer, en route to Disney World. Of course it wasn't mild 70's temps, but still a lot of fun, and totally worth the wait in line to get a seating time! I loved the tea with the mint leaves!