Babies really fuck up your life.
But it's not for the reasons that you might think. It's not really the sleeplessness, or the back-breaking feeding, changing, washing, washing, washing, feeding, scrubbing, washing, folding, folding, shh shh, folding, washing, or the constant worry that they are bored, or hungry, or sleepy, or not sleepy, or understimulated or overstimulated or constipated, or not constipated enough.
Those are just details. They are just the sort of slightly tedious minutiae that litter any kind of job. And looking after a baby is - as is well-documated - a full-time job. (No weekends off or anything, as I was surprised to discover when my first Friday night as a mother rolled around.)
No, they fuck up your life because even though looking after them is a grind that at times you worry might send you completely out of your fucking mind, if you attempt to leave them in the care of someone else for more than 20 minutes, you start to feel weird, then sick, then heartbroken, then demented. You desperately want to let go. But you can't.
About a month ago, looking after Kitty full-time was getting to me a bit. I was getting depressed. I just wanted to walk out of the door and keep walking, without having to tell anyone where I was going or what time I was going to be back.
What we need, I declared to my husband, is a part-time nanny. One was duly sourced, poached off another family and roped in to drop in once or twice a week and play with Kitty while I wrote, or cooked, or went for a walk, or went to Waitrose.
And she is lovely. Posh, charming, friendly, biddable and knows a lot about babies. And yet I hover over her like a dark cloud when she's here. While she is feeding Kitty or waving Sophie La Giraffe at her and saying "Peepo!" I am NOT doing any cooking, or writing, or running any errands. I am hopping from foot to foot, waving at Kitty from corners of the room or fetching the nanny tea.
"This is fun!" said Nanny A brightly and not unkindly the other day. "I get to play with you while Mummy waits on me hand and foot!"
I took the hint and managed to go next door to read a cookbook for a whole twenty minutes.
My husband doesn't want to know. "There is no point," he said in his serious voice, "having a nanny if she's just here to help you play with Kitty. Go out. Do things. Do some fucking exercise so you can stop moaning about your belly. She's just getting to know Kitty just the way that you had to, that I had to, that Shura had to. Let her get on with it."
I narrowed my eyes at him and sidled out of his office and went to curl back up in the corner of the bedroom to do some more rocking backwards and forwards.
The cookbook I managed to read was a new one by a boy called James Ramsden, who is a very modern sort of cookery writer. He's one of those cooks and writers who attitude is "It's only dinner." His new cookbook is called Small Adventures in Cooking and it is available for purchase here. Despite the fact that it won't lie flat on a worksurface and doesn't have enough pictures for a cook with as shit an imagination as me, it's very jolly and I recommend it to you.
I cooked from it the other day some Thai Pork Patties.
These are excellent for a light supper wrapped in lettuce (James recommends Little Gem but I am so fucking sick of Little Gem I can't tell you so I used iceberg) and dipped in chilli sauce. They are also absolutly fantastic cold, so make too many, is my advice, and have them for snacking on in the fridge.
For 2 as a light supper with plenty left over for snacking
this is not James' exact recipe but it was nice anyway
500g best minced pork
1 large red chilli or some dried ones, whatever you've got, chopped finely or crumbled
1 stalk lemongrass, chopped finely
1 small bunch coriander, chopped
2 sprigs mint, chopped
salt and pepper
2 handfuls breadcrumbs
2 spring onions, chopped
groundnut or peanut oil for frying
1 Combine everything well in a bowl sprinkling over 2 or 3 generous pinches of salt and a good 6 or 7 twists of black pepper
2 Form into pattie-shapes. I like mine small-ish - finishable in two large bites, but you must do yours however you like. Then turn on your extactor fan, stuff a teatowel under the kitchen door and fry off your patties in some medium-hot oil for about 3-4 minutes each side. If you can, fry them in a pan that has a lid otherwise your house will smell like the back end of a chippy all night and for most of the next day.
Eat as quick as you can and then rush back to your 24-hour cotside vigil.