I miss eating.
Since I became a mother I still consume nutrients several times a day, but I can’t remember the last time I was able to sit down and enjoy a hot meal.
My daughter seems to have been born with a sixth sense. She can’t see ghosts, but she is able to tell exactly when I am feeling hungry and have dared to think I might just grab myself a quick bite to eat. Then, no matter how short a time she has been happily playing or peacefully napping on her own, she demands my full and immediate attention.
And so whatever food I have managed to prepare must become cold and soggy and disappointing while I tend to her needs.
Or I can opt for shovelling scolding hot, poorly prepared dishes into my mouth at an increasing speed while her wailing becomes increasingly fraught, spluttering, “Please just let Mummy eat something, if I don’t eat, I won’t make enough milk for you.”
The latter scenario ends in discomfort for us both as she sobs and suckles resentfully on my breast, while I try to ignore my indigestion.
There is a third option. Eating one-handed at the same time as nursing, with a plate precariously balanced on my baby.
Experience has proved this method to be the best. As long as I remember to pick all the crumbs off my daughter before we go out in public.
And no matter how hot a wash I put the my breastfeeding pillow cover on, I can’t seem to get out the unsightly chocolate hobnob stains…
On the few occasions I have dined out I have become menu blind. I see only food that can be forked single handedly, or better still consumed with my fingers.
I recently enjoyed a burrito on a lunch out with friends, managing to feed my daughter at the same time so she didn’t bawl the house down, and was feeling quite pleased at how I was managing to have my burrito and eat it. At the end of the meal I looked down to see my baby, whose head I had draped in a napkin, was showered with little bits of rice that had dropped out of the bottom.
When I was pregnant I would spend hours fantasising about the enormous surf and turf feast of forbidden foods I was going to have – rare steak, blue cheese and seafood, all washed down with a glass of red wine.
Needless to say I am yet to have truly indulged. It would just be a waste.
Meanwhile, busy with moving house and using up jars and tins of odd food from the back of the cupboard, I even worried that by not getting my full five a day, I was doing my daughter some sort of disservice on the nutrition front.
“Oh don’t worry,” a friend cheerily informed me. “I’m pretty sure your body strips out all the vitamins she needs and puts them into the breastmilk, so it’s only you who loses out.”
So I could literally be malnourished, as well as unsatisfied, while my baby chomps on regardless.
But I am starting to have my revenge.
She has become interested in food and is now fascinated in anything that anyone puts in their mouth.
Wave a banana in her face and her eyes become as big as saucers, her mouth a gaping vat of drool and she pumps her fists in excitement.
And thus a window of time has been opened to me.
“Do you want to watch Mummy eat a sandwich?”, I ask as I tiptoe around the kitchen, lest the sound of clinking cutlery alert her to the fact I am planning to feed myself.
Then, just as I am about to eat, I strap her into her baby bouncer and sit in front of her while I savour a bowl of warm pasta and she enjoys the show.
I relish taunting her with a forkful of spaghetti dripping with bolognese.
“Mmmmm, yummy. You can try this yourself one day soon,” I tell her as her eyes pop out of her head. “It tastes SOOO good.”
And, Oh! It does. It really does.