Muuuuuuuuum, what’s for tea? It’s every mother’s most-hated question. Unless you are a dad who cooks the family’s evening meal and it’ll be yours, too. Or are you one of those annoying, self-satisfied folk who just loves to cook!
If you’re not, like me, the question is infinitely worse when you are a solo fulltime working parent, but equally nauseating is hearing the proposition just as you put the Coco Pops back in the pantry and return what’s left of the milk to the fridge – it’s like having a spooked owl screech in your eardrum. There is often blood dripping from your lobe afterwards.
How am I supposed to know what’s for dinner at 8 in the morning – I barely know what I’m wearing today!
Similarly brain-deadening is the 4pm phone call at work, as you juggle the demands of staff, colleagues, clients: “Hi mum. What’s for tea?”. Head snaps back to reality as you remember the working day is far from over. And that they only ever call when they want something, not just to say hi and share the stories of the day.
Why do they even ask the question – don’t they just want a surprise, is it an unthinking habit or are they bored, and trying to fill the void with food, or annoying me?
I know, I should be more enthusiastic about food and have a weekly menu plan, right. Wrong. When you have small children who need to be fed morning, noon and night with morning and afternoon snacks of a healthy, varied selection, food and its preparation and clean-up become a chore even as your offspring grow.
I know, major understatement right.
It can feel like a life sentence where you really do become tied to the kitchen sink with your only allies, a flannel for cleaning faces and a dishcloth for cleaning, well, dishes.
Where once you rejoiced in the act of planning what you’d cook yourself and/or partner, trying new recipes and shopping for the freshest ingredients and nattiest kitchen gadgets, now it’s a jumble of five-minute solutions featuring maximum fibre and protein and hopefully just one or at the most two pots. But it’s never this easy.
Partners rarely like to eat what their toddlers favour and often two or even three evening meals might be necessary. You begin to wish your family were more like the dog, ecstatic to eat the same thing every night.
So. What is for tea? How about tacos, san chow boy, spaghetti bolognese, Italian meatballs, pizza, chicken soup, sausages, a roast, fried rice, spinach and ricotta cannelloni, biryani, frittata, risotto, baked salmon and salad, a barbecue, stir fry, Thai green chicken curry, hamburgers?
Ooohhh, I don’t feeeeel like that.
Pic Credit: womenonthefence.com