You wouldn’t know that I get any negative comments on this blog. Because I delete them.
It’s my blog, I reckon, and I am queen of it and if I don’t want to read shit about myself, let alone publish it, then I don’t have to. Plus sometimes I think there’s something a bit tell-tale and needy about publishing mean things – “Look everyone!! Look how MEAN she was to me!” I’d rather just take the bad stuff on the chin – read, delete. Move on.
But, if you are curious as to what the negative comments I get DO say, they say “God stop moaning,” and “Why did you have kids then?” or “What did you expect?” or “You sound like a spoilt whinging child.”
I absolutely hear all that. I do – I hear you, haters! Loud and clear! I can see why you feel that way. Why DID I have children, then. Or at least, why did I have another one?
1) It’s not awful, it’s fine once you get used to it. It gets you outside. It gives a shape and a movement to your day, to life. Your own children are fascinating. They say idiotic and hilarious things, you get to revisit colouring in and stuff like that. There is a frisson of excitement at the possibility that your child might be useful to society – they might do something about world debt, or discover a cure for cancer, or just sweep the streets very efficiently.
But having very small children is also like being an Olympic athlete. You cannot do it unless there are people around you saying “Go for it, dude.”. Writing about it and getting support back keeps a spring in my step. In turn, I say what you might be thinking but cannot articulate because you are too fucking tired. I am your coach, your support boat, the bloke with the ringside towel and the weeny stool – and you mine.
2) All my life I’ve been the person who stayed behind. If there was a walk to be walked or a hike to be hiked, or shorthand to be learned or a rave to be raved or a game of hockey to be played or a ditch to be dug or a field to be sown, I was the one who opted to stay home and clear up, or make lunch. Or just not go.
As the do-ers set off, I always felt smug. Ha ha, I would think. Suckers.
But after about half an hour I was always bored. And after an hour, going crazy. After two hours, I would think – where ARE they? When are they coming back? I am lonely and fretful, unable to settle to anything, jumping at small noises. And now feel stupid for staying behind. They will be back soon. Any time now.
The do-ers would always be back a good hour after the latest I thought they would be back – and they were never really back. The experience had changed them – they were no longer the same people, they had moved on, especially in relation to me. They had had a joint experience, whether it was good or bad, and I had not been part of that.
I had dodged it out of laziness and fear, out of a desire to keep my life the way that it was (i.e. sitting about in my pyjamas in the warm) rather than offering myself up for a period of discomfort in order to put my comfort into perspective, or in order to learn something, to add something, to experience something. When the do-ers came back as far as they were concerned everything was just as it was – all the comforts, all the joys. The difference was they had enriched their lives and I had not.
I was the sucker, not them.
And so when it came to children, I was not going to be the sucker. I was not going to hang back in my pyjamas while everyone else set off with Kendall mint cake in their pockets and a stiff upper lip. I was not going to sit about twiddling my thumbs while everyone else raged over their shorthand or got their faces splattered with mud or put their feet down rabbit holes and fell in burns. I was not going to wait and wait and wait for everyone else to return, only to realise that the people I was waiting for were never coming back.
It was not the fear of missing out, you understand – I absolutely know what it is to miss out. I spent 30 years missing out. There was no fear involved: it was cold, hard understanding of what happens when you opt out. If I opted out of children I would opt out of a certain kind of family life that I would not like to be without. I would opt out of grandchildren. I would opt out of that shared experience, which is exhausting and traumatising – but not constantly. Not fatally. I would be left at home, in my pyjamas, not enjoying my book or my bath or my free time, but worried about where everyone else was, fretting that I had made a terrible mistake until it was too late to do anything about it.
And dealing with two children under 3 is nothing compared with that sort of existential crisis.
3) I did, in fact, know exactly what I was letting myself in for because not only do I have 5 nieces and nephews, my little sister was born when I was eight. I might not act like it but I think little tiny kids are always delightful and engaging, even when they are being horrible and whiney. And I know, because I watched my little sister grow up, that they are very small and difficult for such a short time, relatively speaking. In the grand scheme of things, the really hard bit is the equivalent of a long-ish Sunday afternoon walk up some hills in the rain when you’re a bit hungry.
But then you get back to the house and there are scones and a hot bath and everything’s ok. And children get to four years old and they are staggeringly brilliant fun. Nobody’s in a nappy, nobody needs a bloody sleep at 1.30pm. Everyone understands bribery etc. They have little friends…
And don’t get me started on grandchildren. I am already planning to be No 1 Granny with the campaigning cunning worthy of Napoleon. I feel sorry for the woman whose daughter marries my son. I really do. (“Noooooo!!! I want Granny Coren! I want Granny Coren!” – HA HA HA). I may still be writing this blog, except it will be called Recipe Dribble and include mostly recipes for soup.
Ok how about some food, yah? Not soup. This is a thing I cooked recently that was surprisingly nice and excellent if you’re on a diet.
It utilises a thing called Slim Noodles, which are like Zero Noodles mentioned in my previous post but vitally these things are AVAILABLE ON OCADO!!! So from now on until I weigh 9 stone again, (I am 10 stone 5 now), every evening meal will feature these. There are only 7 calories per pack. SEVEN!
This is based on the principle of my Asian Baked Salmon but I have used a different marinade because just between you and me I was getting bored of the Asian-ness of the old one. That’s not racist!!
Salmon courgette noodles with basil
2 salmon fillets
1 handful basil
2 spring onions
1/2 handful mint
some light soy sauce
1 clove garlic, peeled
1 tsp chilli flakes
1 courgette, diced into 2cm (ish) bits
1 packet Slim Noodles, or two if you are feeling wild
Preheat the oven to 200C
1) Put the basil, mint, spring onions, 2 tbsp soy sauce, garlic and chilli into a whizzer and whizz
2) Put the salmon fillets on a strip of foil long enough to make a little parcel and then paint the salmon with your basil paste
3) Put this in the oven for 25 mins
4) Meanwhile fry off your courgette die in some hot groundnut oil over a medium flame. When they are tinged dark brown and starting to collapse (about 15-20 mins) sprinkle with salt. Then drain and rinse your magic noodles and add them to the courgette. Turn in the oil for 3-4 mins and then shake over some more soy sauce.
5) Plonk some noodles in a bowl and then scoop chunks of salmon off its skin and arrange artistically on top.
Eat and try to ignore the nagging feeling that someone, somewhere, is having more fun that you.
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