Martha Alexander, our resident Diary of a Mum, is in a food frenzy as Robin and the kitchen floor propel into their weaning journey
Will Robin have a lamb chop?” said my father, wearing an apron and wielding a spatula on our last visit. “Not for another millennium, Dad, sorry.”
Blimey, weaning is a bore. After the initial awe generated from feeding an infant their first spoonful of puréed carrot, it really is the last word in frustrating.
I write this from a kitchen which once had white walls. It now looks like a poor man’s Jackson Pollock – an unoriginal joke, sure, but how else to describe the lumpen splatters of orange encasing me?
Obviously, I had pledged to cook everything from scratch, buying organic root veg from the farmers’ market, smugly telling anyone who would listen that I was preparing a season’s worth of food for my daughter.
I steamed and puréed my pumpkins and swedes and parsnips before distributing the results into Annabel Karmel freezing trays then popping the frozen cubes out into labelled and dated bags. I even bought a pen especially for the labelling. My freezer became a focal point: “Look what I’ve been doing!” I’d announce with conceit untold, to my visitors, swinging the door open to reveal bags and bags of orange and yellow cubes.
I was the best mother ever with my labelled bags and steaming skills. And initially Robin was the world’s best eater. Excited by everything I gave her, opening her mouth expectantly whenever food wasn’t actually in it.
But then something changed. She decided against lumps. She couldn’t be doing with potato. She spat apple out and rejected berries of any kind.
She also won’t drop her bottles. People keep saying, “it’ll work itself out” but every day Robin eats more and keeps her five bottles. I hate to sound lazy but this works out as eight feeding times each day. Eight! I can’t go anywhere without food. My friends with older children literally throw food into the back seats of the car when they are driving (“it’s like having a human dog,” beamed Julia, lobbing half a pitta and an open pouch of bangers and mash into the back of an Audi that once smelled of middle management and Coco Mademoiselle and now, well, you can imagine), and that is a meal time, whereas I have to dress Robin up in a Terry cloth boiler suit and additional bib, and spend hours spooning food into her face. And no matter how careful and slow I am, at least 50% of it ends up not in her mouth.
Anyway, I won’t give up. I toiled over a delicious vine tomato, basil and mozzarella pasta feast (“maybe I can be the next Ella of Ella’s Kitchen!” I thought, as I peeled, chopped and garnished, fantasising about making my fortune out of gourmet baby food despite barely being able to boil an egg, and making a mental note that we should invest in a marble worktop in the kitchen because it was likely that my ideas would be franchised into a TV show. I would become a human brand. A film crew would want to capture my culinary genius at home, and this MDF from 1994 was not #houseporn).
I served my delicacy in an electric blue Tommee Tippee bowl and spoon-fed my infant diner. She considered my efforts for less than a second before disintegrating into disgusted tears and clamping her little mouth shut. My gourmet baby food business and becoming a human brand looked increasingly unlikely to be anything but a pipe dream.
“RIGHT, THAT’S IT!” I unplugged the Nutribullet with a flourish. I’m sorry but I just do not have time to painstakingly create gastronomic delights for them only to be rejected out of hand. Jars, let’s be having you! Pouches, reveal yourselves.
Now here’s the thing. It’s not all absolute rubbish in jars and pouches, and it’s not bland old sludge. I have discovered all sorts, some of which consist of combinations that you might hear mentioned as a part of a Masterchef finalist’s dish – Mango, Pear And Kale With A Dash Of Yoghurt, anyone?
All I need to accomplish now is to teach Robin to eat directly from the pouch and then, well I still won’t quite be cooking on gas, but you know what I mean.
I never thought I’d dream of the day I would throw food into the back of a moving vehicle for my child and be able to call it teatime, but here we are.