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.

A mummy break

Posted by Esther Walker
Esther Walker
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on Monday, 18 June 2012

Although my husband is sympathetic and generous when it comes to my constant bellyaching about the trials of motherhood and domesticity, I think it’s essential to leave Kitty in his sole charge for a while every now and again. You know, just to re-calibrate his reality every now again – just to make sure we’re reading from the same page.

Because it is easy, when someone else is doing the lion’s share of childcare, to think that it is all basically fine. It happens to me, when Kitty is the care of someone else. From a distance, it looks perfectly easy. When you are not the one making those millions of carefully-adjusted decisions every hour, when you are not the one who is ultimately responsible for the location and supply of nappies, bottles and pyjamas, hanging out with children is perfectly fun. Why on earth do we need a steam mop? Or a full-time live-in housekeeper? Everything is just fine as it is.

So off I went to a wedding in Norfolk for 24 hours this weekend. I didn’t leave a list of instructions, or things laid out neatly with arrows drawn on paper leading from one thing to the next. I just made sure Kitty’s shoes and pyjamas were in the right place and that there was one clean bottle. Then I waved goodbye and set off.

I only had one wobble as I left. “Don’t hesitate,” I said, “to ring me if you can’t find something.”

But he didn’t. All I got from my husband for the rest of the day and the next morning was a stream of picture messages showing Kitty eating strawberries, Kitty playing football, Kitty having tea with friends, Kitty in the bath, Kitty beaming with health and happiness.

I felt slightly put out. I raced back to London first thing on Sunday morning to find my husband and Kitty hugely enjoying brunch at a friends’ house nearby. Then I found out it was Father’s Day and I hadn’t got my husband so much as a card. I started feeling less clever about my trip away and more just flat-out neglectful.

“Maybe I should have stayed away longer,” I said, feeling sorry for myself.

“No!” said my husband, holding up his hands. “I’m pleased you’re back. And if you want the cleaner for a few extra hours a week, that’s fine by me.”

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