Dinner at the Cave tonight is going to be a particularly eccentric affair.
The leftover broad bean, courgette and lamb stew I brought back in a biscuit tin from the Jumu’ah today – a Sufi kitchen special to celebrate the return of the Hajjis – somehow, supernaturally, managed to share its juices with the dessert I stashed away for Caveman. The stew now has a faint topnote of chocolate brownie, which I think works in a nouvelle cuisine kind of way.
The quinoa is not burnt. It is merely smoked.
I think my advanced state of hairbrainedness it is because I have just found out that a friend of mine is pregnant, and I am exploding at the seams with excitement but being sworn to secrecy (look, I’m not mentioning her name, so don’t even think about it). It’s funny how, even with the limited experience I have with my two little tadpoles, I immediately find myself wanting to offer advice.
All of a sudden I am a walking encyclopaedia, brimming with suggestions on how to sleep well at night with a distended belly (useless – still six months away), synopses of the great debates in the mothering world (to put them to sleep on the boob or not? Hey, this is about as political as it gets for me at the moment) plus all that blather about shellfish and blue cheese and cat poo.
In between rattling off information faster than the speed of light, I want to give her one of those hugs that will inoculate her against the wave of buried fears, innaccurate conditioning, paranoia, irritations and unexplained sadnesses that seem to surface in the whole, hormone-churning experience of pregnancy and early motherhood like zombies rising up out of their tombs.
(What? You were perfectly chipper throughout? Please go be uncomplicated on someone else’s blog. Allow me to wail melodramatically on my own turf.)
It strikes me now that the process of clearing out the gutters of the subconscious, the drains clogged with dead leaves and old crisp packets, might actually be one of the ways we (unwittingly) prepare to teach our children to survive in the world.
Yes, I know. This sounds frighteningly like a theory. But bear with me, patient readers. All will become clear.
Let’s create a hypothetical situation: a mother-to-be has suffered various traumas in her life. She fell out of a treehouse ages 6. She was told she was fat aged 12. She was rubbish at netball.
Now, as a grown woman, she is pregnant with a baby girl. What will happen to this child if the mother does not resolve her own issues around treehouses, cake, and netball? This darling little munchkin will, no doubt, be umbilically bound to repeat her mother’s horrors as she grows up. She learns from her a fear of heights, a desire to shrink her waistline undermined by a compulsion to gorge herself on cheesecake, and a feeling of inadequacy whenever wearing red elastic gym knickers in a public place.
(I am starting to feel I have written this blog post before. I must blame my mother for not resolving her tendency to repeat stories.)
But we, as noble, fur-clad cavewomen, are clearly made of sterner stuff. Quite aside from slaying sabre-toothed tigers and devising interesting meals with only some twigs and a handful of witchety grubs, we are embarking on a mothering adventure that embraces all the highs and lows, the insights and frustrations, the image of ourselves in the mirror of our kids which sometimes reflects bliss and golden innocence and other times the vile little snot-nosed brat within.
Am I just projecting an imaginary community of she-warriors, babies tucked under one arm while they do battle with demons and foul weather? I wonder. Please comment if you are one of this army of progesterone. And now I will return to my smoked quinoa and chocolate brownie stew, with rippling muscles capable of wrestling Gorgons and Hydras hidden beneath my apron.