Feeding the Blighters

Feeding the Blighters

We are about 4 weeks into this whole weaning thing now.

I am enjoying watching Erica explore new tastes and textures, and it’s a relief to be able to feed someone more of a variety of fresh fruits and vegetables, compared to Ethan’s apple, broccoli, carrot, sweetcorn rotation.

I had forgotten the sheer relentlessness of food at this point. Preparing something interesting, varied and easy to pick up/gum to death, then picking up the things she throws on the floor over and over again, and then cleaning her up, and then washing the chair/mat/floor as needed. And by that point it may as well be time to breastfeed her and put her down for a nap. When you factor in also preparing food for an 8 year old and two adults at the moment I feel like my entire life takes place in the kitchen. It’s a good job I like my kitchen.

Ethan is finding it a bit tough – for a boy who will happily eat his own bogies, he is remarkably squeamish about watching his sister mangle a piece of watermelon…. Which is slightly baffling.

Nick is getting the hang of it all. He did forget a bib the other night. And in a dinner that began with watermelon and escalated to pasta and tomato sauce it wasn’t brilliant timing….

I’m having trouble with the waste.

I’ve done this Baby Led Weaning thing before – it worked really well with Ethan in terms of motor skills and a varied diet (although that just goes to show that pre-schoolers will be pre-schoolers – he’d eat avocadoes and green beans and peaches and cauliflower, anything, until he was about 3. Since then he’d happily be on a cheese and beans only diet.). It also suited my lack of patience for blending and pureeing and portioning food. Getting to the point of them eating what we eat as quickly as possible was the goal.

So I know what I’m doing, now that I’m in the swing of things and can remember how the first time went. I am fully on board with the twee “Food’s for fun until they’re 1” thing, the need to explore a gag reflex and steadily develop fine motor skills. I don’t mind the “oh gosh I seem to have pushed this piece of carrot a bit far back in my throat” noises, or the messy vests/leggings/hair as we move onto squishier fare. I don’t have a problem with spending time making her something only to have it rejected – I’ve had enough practice with the 8 year old: “WHAT is this green stuff in my rice, Mummy? I can’t eat it, it tastes spicy!” I’m not precious about my food with kids – adults however are a totally different matter. If you’ve come over for dinner and rejected my Pad Grapow chicken then I will be swearing under my breath as I make the coffee…FYI.

But I had forgotten how hard I find throwing it all away at the end of a meal. She’s obviously eating some of it – I’ve changed the nappies and…well, I’m not going to talk about watermelons anymore….. But at the end of each meal there is a sizable pile of mushed pear, squashed pancake, and pulverized raspberry pieces. Her gums may be effective, but they are only gums, and she’s still only really swallowing some of it by accident, I think!

I grew up food bank poor (before there were actually food banks but you get the idea). We were children whose packed lunches revealed a rainbow of supermarket reduced stickers, who hid trip letters at the bottoms of our bags so that our parents didn’t have to worry about not being able to afford them, who blackberry picked not because it was a lovely wholesome thing to do, but because scurvy wasn’t cool. I have been a poor student, eating pasta, frozen peas and grated cheese and scraping together the train fare to get back home for the weekend, and there were times after Mark died when I was seriously concerned how the next set of standing orders were going to be dealt with. Widows are not always rich, you know: there are bills to pay and funerals to fund and the running costs of a house which used to need two wages to consider while also putting off going back to full time work so you can be there for your children.

I like a full fridge and a full fruit bowl – that’s my thing (if the wine rack is populated, I’m also happy, but that’s not quite as compulsory!). I get nervous the day before the online shop arrives and we’re running low on most things. I am well aware that I am much more comfortable than I was in my childhood, but poverty does things to your brain that are not easy to shake off. The idea of throwing away a decent chunk of food (yes, even food that has been squished by baby fists) makes me very uncomfortable. Every time I go to the bin at the end of an Erica-feeding session I find myself thinking about another way of doing this that would result in less waste. It is the only reason I would be tempted to throw myself on the conveyor belt of baby puree. But having talked to friends, I’m pretty sure half of that ends up on the floor as well – it’s just harder to pick up afterwards.

Every bit of this new baby journey only serves to remind me that I am a mish mash of issues. Some are old, some are new, some are borrowed, don’t think I have any blue ones (I digress). Some of my issues I have spent a lot of time working on. This doesn’t mean they are gone, it just means that I can recognise them when they rear their head, acknowledge them, and decide not to let them influence my actions today. Some of them I have yet to delve into – because they are too hard, or because I am too busy  – and these can blindside me. Perhaps once I’ve wandered out of the baby trenches again I will have time to do some more work on me. I suspect that some of them will never be addressed. After all – how boring would life be if we all got over our issues? This mish mash makes me who I am, for better or worse (which I think is probably why that sort of thing gets included in wedding vows). The most I can do is notice when they stop me doing things that are good for me and mine.

Erica is currently holding a green bean in one fist and an oatcake in the other, and she looks pretty happy with her life…

So I guess we need a compost bin. Or perhaps the chicken needs to start getting used to squashed watermelon and cheese sticks….

Weeding

Weeding

Today’s lesson: what you tend, thrives. 

this is not an aubergine plant.

We planted loads of veg at the beginning of lockdown. We plant some every year, but we were very excited about our new raised bed and more space. We planted aubergine seeds and tomato seeds and carrot seeds and cauliflower seeds, and we tended to them so they would grow into tasty vegetables that we could eat. As they grew big enough we repotted them outside and watered and weeded conscientiously, excited for our crop.

However, while the carrots and cauliflower made it to our table, the aubergine seedlings I transferred into this pot were not, it turns out, aubergine seedlings. They were weeds. I had been watering and weeding weeds for 3 months

It got me thinking about the things in the everyday that we spend out lives and time on. I tend many things: my children’s growth, the memory of Mark, relationships with family and friends, my marriage, my health. But I also tend my score on Candy Crush, my knowledge of useless celebrity trivia, the wine rack in my kitchen…
And I don’t tend to some things as much as I should: the pile of books waiting for me to read them to expand my mind or improve my parenting, the connections with those I haven’t seen in a while…

What we tend to, thrives. And perhaps I need to be careful where I spend my time and efforts on a daily basis. Where I do my weeding and watering. Otherwise I’ll end up with no vegetables, just big tall, thriving, unhelpful weeds….

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