Down & Out In A London Kitchen

Esther Walker started a food blog called Recipe Rifle in 2009 when desperate and unemployed. In 2010 she married restaurant critic Giles Coren and far, far too quickly had a baby daughter, called Kitty.

I boast all I like about Kitty - but only to myself

Posted by Esther Walker
Esther Walker
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on Tuesday, 13 March 2012

When things are going well with your child – especially if you only have one – it is difficult not to feel a huge upsurge of smugness. They are sleeping like tops, eating like horses and smiling all day long. “What a pleasant child!” people shriek.

Yes, yes, you say to yourself, it’s all paid off. I AM the world’s greatest mother, I AM the best at trouble-shooting and problem-solving. I am firm yet fair, my routine is structured yet flexible. My child is a dreamboat and it’s all down to me, me, me!!! Your favourite thing is people asking you questions about your child. “I am just very strict,” you say, beatifically, beaming at your progeny. “We have a brilliant routine. S/he seems to respond really well to it.”

And then, 48 hours later, your world caves in as your kind-hearted baby turns into a demented, raging toddler. You lurch from one ineffective parenting technique to another. You wonder what Jo Frost would do in your situation. You question every single thing you’ve done up until now. You conclude, sitting on your stairs and weeping into your knees, (covered in fish pie and crayon), that this is all because you didn’t breast-feed for long enough.

Then, just as quickly, your child turns back into the babbling sweetie you know and love.

“What,” you say, clinging to the walls and panting, “was that?”

That is known as hubris giving you a smack upside the head – trying to tell you not to get to comfy because just as you do, your child will decide to stop eating, or sleeping, or smiling for a month.

Once you’ve experienced this hubris-smack once or twice, it’s easy to wrangle yourself into a state of near-constant vigilance. The crushing feeling of idiocy when your baby does a personality u-turn, when only moments before you were mentally buying yourself champagne for being such an all round genius parent, eventually puts you off feeling pleased with yourself at all. “Yes,” you say darkly when people coo at your child in public, “she’s being nice NOW.”

But it’s a shame not to be able to enjoy the good times and even more of a shame not to occasionally indulge your feeling that it’s all down to you – because let’s face it, there are few enough rewards for parenting as it is. So I’ve resolved to keep bathing in the reflected glory of Kitty’s sunny moments; I just need to remember to keep the boasting firmly inside my own head.

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