Today, another awesome blogger and another guest post.
Introducing the lovely Melbo, author of Silly Tart. Melbo, mum to two young boys, has some stories to share. And her perspective is always thoughtful and eloquent. She is a bleeding heart liberal so naturally, I have a strong bias. I heart Melbo's mind.
But beyond politics, Melbo is on a journey worth following. Her beautiful boys came about via IVF and her eldest boy has been diagnosed as having Asperger's Syndrome. And she is nutty about Houdini. Nutty.
Some posts to check out;
1. How her son came to be diagnosed with ASD
2. A beautifully honest account of gender disappointment
3. A refreshing confession from a working mum
BC (Before Children), I had a fantasy. It involved me becoming a whiz in the kitchen, cooking fabulous meals from scratch for my adoring family. My inventiveness would know no bounds, their gratitude would be endless, my larder would be stocked with the finest of ingredients because they should only have the very best (naturally).
Fast forward six years to my semi-empty refrigerator, containing a half-finished box of fish fingers, a block of cheese, a lettuce of indeterminate vintage and some leftover tinned spaghetti. Hang on, there's some yogurt there … has it got mould? I didn't even know that was possible.
Here's the menu: if it's Monday, we'll be having spaghetti bolognese. Tuesday, we have meat and three veg (even though I know most of it will end up in the bin). Wednesday, we repeat this folly with predictable results. Thursday, we have spaghetti bolognaise again because if we don't, W will only have eaten dinner for one night this week. Friday, we give up and order pizza online. Saturday, a roast will be attempted (and rejected). Sunday … well my sanity will probably be hanging from a thread by then so it might be pizza again.
Welcome to Cafe Blah where domestic dreams go to die.
I think my first mistake was to assume that my broad palate and ravenous appetite was a genetic inheritance. My eldest, W, got out of the gate pretty well, but as he grew, his tastes narrowed. We realised once he received his Asperger's diagnosis that this is fairly typical, as is the gagging, retching and theatrics that accompanies every meal. These days, we are lucky if he eats anything at all and I've pretty much resigned myself to relying on supplements to provide everything he needs.
R, the baby, does eat meat and he will at least try most foods which is a bonus. He also likes to wear them. And paint with them. I suppose this could be considered value for money.
When I really sit back and think about what specifically causes me the most distress, it is that my children won't eat what I've given them. A rejection of my labours is a rejection of me. My husband is just starting to understand. He is, himself, a picky eater. It was a bone of contention between us for a long time. Once, early in our marriage, I spent a whole afternoon preparing a roast dinner only to have him screw up his nose and say "I don't like lamb". I felt as if I'd been slapped in the face. I had been raised by parents who would not let me leave the table until I'd finished everything on my plate. I was also taught not to refuse food at other people's houses. When someone cooked for you, you ate it. Turning up your nose at something a host had prepared was a big no-no.
I explained to J that it isn't just about the food: it's about the effort that's gone into it. Women put so much of themselves into their meal preparation. The urge to nurture and nourish does not disappear once breastfeeding stops. You take time and effort to cook and it is reasonable to expect the ingrates at your table to at least try something. You'd prefer they finished it all but you can't ask for miracles.
He didn't get it then but I think he does now. Oddly, he seems to have taken on the role of enforcer probably because I've given up and checked out. Every dinner time when W goes into his elaborately choreographed song and dance routine designed to divert attention from the fact that he's eaten half a crust and one pasta spiral, I sit silently, ignoring it, quietly cultivating an ulcer.
J meanwhile is becoming increasingly agitated by W's antics and complete and total failure to eat anything of substance. He ends up threatening to withdraw privileges or ring Judge Judy (she's keeping a log) while R, left to his own devices, sprays the paintwork with pasta sauce in the style of Jackson Pollock. As one of my sister's friends is fond of saying "It's dinner AND a show!".
So I've given up … I've resigned myself to getting what I can into them and being thankful if its only the table that needs wiping down after meals. If I want gourmet I'll go out. Or read food porn.