Tapenade (NOT)

It is frustrating, I remember, when close friends or relatives have children when you don’t. They disappear, for days, weeks, months – years! – on end with no explanation. What can they possibly be doing, you think, that is so incompatible with replying to emails and text messages? Why do I always get the sense that they would rather do anything than come out for dinner, or go for drinks? Don’t they care about me, their friend, any more? Don’t they understand that they cannot, should not, let their children take over their lives? It’s hard not to take it personally, to write them off.

But let me tell you, please, what we are doing, (as I wipe vanilla ice cream off the buggy, the screams of newborn who does not like getting out of the bath ringing in my ears). If you have one child you are in a constant state of semi-anxiety, if not in an actual no-sleeping, neurotic dark, dark, dark meltdown, and if you have two children you are not so much anxious as spread incredibly thin, like the last scraping of butter (where the FUCK is the Ocado man???) on the last slice of toast.

If I am not with one child, I am with the other. Or I am with both. If I am not with either, I am with my husband, trying to make up for completely ignoring him most of the time. If I am on my own I am organising four peoples’ lives. I am doing Ocado orders, I am making lists, I am writing cheques, I am writing pieces for newspapers, I am frantically checking that I am on top of upcoming birthdays, thank you notes, RSVPs, two sets of medical appointments, the administration requirements of our summer holidays, the administration requirements of Kitty’s nursery, where she starts in September.

And this is all with me having desperately tried to buy my way out of trouble in advance of the birth of Sam. Let me say this: it cannot be done. I’ve got help coming out my fucking ears, it’s like Downton Abbey round my house, and I still feel like I am only just keeping a grip on my life. I feel like I spend all day every day just answering questions. Where’s my this, where’s my that, should Sam wear this? Or is it too hot today? What do you want Kitty to have for lunch? Is there any more bleach? Where is Sam’s passport application? Can I watch Peppa Pig? Can you sign here, love? Where do you want these? Where is dinner tonight? What is dinner tonight? Can I have a biscuit? What’s that noise? WAAAAAHHHHH?? Have you seen my keys?

Then there are the hormones. (At least I hope it’s hormones and therefore temporary.) Oh my god the hormones. Horrifying, massive zits and I feel like if I dared to start crying I’d never stop. After I had Kitty, there was only Kitty to really see the mess Mother Nature’s uppers and downers made on a 30-something woman – but now there are so many more people to be victim of my moods.

This has been made doubly worse by the fact that I’ve had a troll. Yes an actual internet troll, who wrote me a series of emails saying absolutely unspeakable, unrepeatable things about Kitty – the general tone of which was “if you hate Kitty so much, why don’t you kill her?” One email’s subject line was “Kitty is such a little bitch.”

I felt:

1 Horrified: why have I exposed my family to the grossness of the internet by writing this stupid pointless blog.

2 Baffled: WHY would someone bother to send emails like that?

3 Guilty: do I make out like I hate Kitty? Is that how it comes across? Because if that is the case then that is a disaster.

I mostly assume, when I am crouched down next to Kitty, holding very tightly on to her arm and saying in a not-unthreatening voice “You do NOT throw sand. We do NOT DO THAT. If you do that again we are going home” or praying hard for bedtime, that this is a pretty average experience for a parent of toddlers. Some days are delightful, some days are ghastly, surely?

And when I write about it, I write about it reckoning that no-one needs help having a good time with their children, no-one needs help loving their children, or finding them funny or delightful, or clever, or beautiful. All that is easy.

Where we all need help, where I think I help – if at all – is by describing the shit, difficult bits of life when it comes to cooking, relationships and children, in the hope that you will read it and maybe feel less alone. I just want to help you feel less lonely.

But maybe I’m not right. Maybe most people just have a brilliant time with all their kids, all the time, and never have to bite their hands to stop them from dishing out a fury-smack. Maybe I am just a fucking witch.

Anyway, where was I? Sorry, I’m just all over the place. I don’t know what I think about anything anymore. I don’t think I actually really have any thoughts about anything at the moment. I used to have all these ideas and theories about parenting but now all I do is plan, organise and make lists and wonder why there is always someone in my house who is miserable. I’m no longer able to deal in ideas, I deal only in plain facts.

I thought I had a recipe for tapenade to give you here – a great, inexpensive dip that can be whizzed up at short notice for an impromptu warm-weather gathering- but I’ve realised that the magazine feature, which I gave it to as an “exclusive” recipe (snort) keeps being delayed, so I cannot print it here yet either.

I suppose not everyone can be as organised as me.

This recipe has already been read 544 times!

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