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.

The rage

Posted by Esther Walker
Esther Walker
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on Tuesday, 24 April 2012

My husband and I had a row the other night. Nothing unusual about it – it happens from time to time. It was about something small, I can’t remember, something to do with Kitty’s bathtime. But it got slightly out of control. I lost my temper, which I don’t do often: I was doing that thing, that shaking, hissing, boiling-rage, finger-jabbing thing.

Usually we calm down, sort it out, apologise. But we had to go straight out to dinner. We arrived at Mr & Mrs’s house slightly shaken. My husband announced, typically, as soon as we got through the door that we’d just had a row.

“Oh!” cried Mrs, “We had the most terrible row the other day. Mr didn’t come home until 4am and didn’t text or anything. I called the police! I thought he was dead.”

“And then the other day,” said Mr, “I called Mrs a sanctimonious cow because she accused me of having too many naps on the weekend and shirking childcare.”

We all talked about it, the four of us, in between my husband and I mouthing “I hate you” at each other across the table. It was like counselling. It was actually pretty great.

“I don’t know any woman with children,” said Mrs “who isn’t constantly in a furious rage with her husband.” Later, when we were alone, Mrs said “At least you can be sure that you’re not the only one who suffers.”

Is that true? Why is it? I am undeniably more irritable with my husband since having a baby. It’s always over tiny things – a highchair not wiped down after mealtime, a dirty nappy left on the side because he “didn’t know which bin to use”, the inability to see things that are under his nose.

It is not his fault. My annoyance over these minor details says more about me than about him. But it’s obvious that I’m in a worse mood, specifically with him, since Kitty was born.

My mother’s diagnosis would be that men ought not to be involved in any aspect of child-rearing, from changing nappies to bathtime. They ought to sit quietly in a corner reading the paper or be at work because if they get involved, they will get it wrong and annoy you and cause a tiff. Ideally, she thinks, after women have children, they should live in a sort of commune environment with a lot of other mothers. It is only mothers, she thinks, who understand. Men don’t understand and the bad mood you are in is because of that.

Before I had a baby, I would have dismissed all this as utter nonsense. And although I still don’t agree, I now don’t think she’s as crazy as I once did.

The next morning my husband’s face was a picture of tragedy and apology. “I’m so sorry,” he said. “I was mean. I won’t be like that again.” Then he got up and went downstairs to do Kitty’s bottle and fetch us both tea.  And, like millions of couples, we lived to fight another day.

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