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Carina’s mothering mishaps

4 July 2016

On Sunday I had a revelation and boy it hit me like a tonne of bricks. 

I work Monday to Friday but am always wired to my mobile phone and emails 24/7 but on Saturday and Sundays I aim to just be mum. Or so I thought…

So last weekend I’d bought some beautiful Fife strawberries. I normally wait until later in the season when the strawberries are smaller and more intense and perfect for jam but these looked too good not to make a small batch of jam for my wee boy. He just loves jam on toast and since Nonna and Aunty Gloria’s reserves have completely run out and the Bonne Maman variety is the only alternative to homemade that he likes, I thought it was the good mummy thing to do to top up until later in the summer when the serious jam making starts.

Sunday is also family cooking day. The proverbial and essential Sunday roast chicken went in the oven at 1pm ready for lunch at 3pm. This joined our three salad choices: new season potato salad, roast beetroot, fresh pea and parmigiano salad and radish, olive and spring onion salad. Can you tell I love a salad?  

As the chicken was just put in the oven I started the jam. I hulled my 2 lbs of strawberries and added one kilo of caster sugar and the juice of half a lemon and put it all into a large casserole dish. I then left it for a few hours to help the pectins release and hopefully the jam will set.

Lunch over, dishes done, no walk unfortunately as the rain never let up so I cracked on with the laundry before the telly indulgence set in.  

Nine o’clock and the cavalry call sounds to get the children to bed. Ten o’clock rolls around and, surprise surprise, No.1 son is still up. Then a shout from Victor; “Carina, what happened to the strawberries?”

Drat! Double drat!! I’d left the chicken broth in the oven (which I always make from the spatchcoked chicken trimmings) and the strawberries were still in the pot in the larder.

Thankfully the soup was salvaged which fed the girls on Monday and Tuesday but the poor strawberries! I’m getting to the point honest.

So I started cooking the strawberries. Homemade strawberry jam in any home is a call to the kitchen. Within a few minutes No.1 son appeared at the cooker. “Mummy, what’s that?”, as if he’d seen an alien! “Orlando, I said, this is mummy being a good mummy.” Spontaneous laughter then erupted. Laughter from a teenage boy in front of his mother can be a shock in itself. But the look said it all and then the penny dropped.

I spend the vast majority of my time cooking, driving or being stuck in traffic, doing housework and working on the laptop. Even at home I spend so little time being a mother. I’m an excellent housekeeper but hardly a good mother. No board games, no story books, no fun! But delicious roast chicken and homemade jam.

It’s so hard to change your DNA. I can’t even ride a bike. I was never taught and I’m too scared now to try. Two of my children can’t ride bikes either! I feel so guilty! I know we all have different strengths and different talents but it’s so interesting how our upbringing and parental example shapes who we become.

I’m happy when my children are happy and to make them laugh is such a gift – even if it is poking fun at their mum! However, I still want to break the cycle of madness and maybe this is through an excellent roast chicken dinner and a very rare pot of strawberry jam.

The jury is out on this perhaps but I think I’m doing ok.