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04-May-2016 13:15

The prickly relationship between romance and food has been well documented in memoirs, movies (When Harry Met Sally met Katz's Delicatessen), and, lately, the proliferation of ever more stylish food-porn blogs. And if New York City culinary critic Gael Greene, author of Insatiable: Tales From a Life of Delicious Excess, perhaps the most titillating men-on-the-menu memoir of all time, had a hip, 34-year-old, Rag & Bone–wearing little sister, she'd be Alyssa Shelasky.Three years ago, when Massachusetts-raised Shelasky, now an editor of New York magazine's addictive food blog, Grub Street, was a plucky reporter at People, she pitched a hot, scruffy food dude she'd seen on Bravo's Top Chef for the magazine's annual bachelors issue.The reality is, Hazel is bursting with love for friends, neighbors, country music, the subway, the bus, brunch and bejeweled human beings, but sleep? I ordered pillows and sheets, so that I’d have a sophisticated couch by day — and a super comfy bed by night. Hazel, my peasant-dress-wearing, clementine-loving, happy-go-lucky extrovert, had a field day with all the friendly delivery guys. I curled up to my friend Julia Turshen’s new cookbook, Small Victories.But, as a single mom with a new romantic relationship and an increasingly independent toddler, she had to make a change. I’ve often contemplated getting a small tattoo that reads: Courage is grace under pressure. Around that time, I contacted two women – friends of friends – both embarking on the sperm donor journey. It didn’t take long for the donor decision to feel blazingly right for me. And a few months later, once I learned that the IUI procedure worked (holy shit! Until she was five months old, she barely touched her crib. Because there will be nights that I will weep into velvety upholstery for no reason whatsoever… Here’s her story of how a velvety piece of furniture changed everything… Sure, some things stress me out: chopsticks; aggressive air conditioning; love and marriage; that I’ll never read Just Kids for the first time again; all the hardcore serious suffering happening in the world every single day; decaf drinkers. Over coffees and croissants, I inhaled their stories separately. At six months, with guidance from our pediatrician, I “lightly” sleep trained her. (Although on more than one occasion I did google, “Can you die from no sleep? This — combined with our collective, ongoing sleep issues — left Hazel and me with no other option: I had to move out of the nursery. and there will be nights that I will crawl in and lie on her floor praying to God or plotting a frittata… It kind-of worked, but just like her mama, she’s an extremely light sleeper. ”) Then, a few months ago, I started dating someone I really liked. and there will be nights that I won’t sleep at all because I’m just too scared, excited or overwhelmed by all of it. We continued to wake each other up several times a night.

Breastfeeding was excruciating, but I tried to stay composed. What I realize now is that I was using the daybed as a crutch for something else. Her needs were shifting, my needs were shifting, our needs were shifting. I was a mother with a plan that would better my family. Still, as I said goodnight to her that first evening, I couldn’t help but tear up while walking away. Maybe it has something to do with the pleasure of having her own space, or the newfound touch of independence, but these days Hazel is more luminous than ever.

I remained calm when I brought my daughter, Hazel Delilah Shelasky, home one month early, a little small — determined to grow her ferociously in the October sun. I was no longer a new single mama wandering around in the dark. Her smile was so big, I honestly thought her face might break. It felt sweet, whimsy and airy without the clutter of my bulky mattress and alpaca throws. I texted my guy to come over and see if we fit together on the daybed. By the end of the week, both Hazel and I were getting deep, healthy sleep – which was really the only thing that mattered.