Of all the roles that Pud has assumed since he’s been at home more over the last few weeks, there’s one that makes me feel particularly usurped as a mother – and that is the role of packed lunch producer. When Pud was working, packed lunch production was predominantly my job and my God it was boring! It’s one of those jobs that only takes about fifteen minutes out of your life each evening (I can’t do it in the morning, I need all the beauty sleep I can get at my time of life) but seems to require every food item to be taken out of the fridge, the use of copious knives of varying serrations, pans of boiling water if we’re introducing pasta or hard boiled eggs into the mix and endless tin opening, chopping and wrapping.
All things considered then, I should be pleased that I no longer have to complete this thankless task, after a hard day at the office eating cake and chatting about Barbie’s latest Instagram picture shouldn’t I?
Well I’m not!
Matters came to a head one evening last week while I was trying to make my dinner and Pud was faffing around in the kitchen doing lots of things that called for him to get in my way every time I turned around. Call me unreasonable if you will but my thinking is, Pud has all blooming day to dance around the kitchen to his heart’s content – so why does he have to do ‘kitcheny’ things when he knows full well that I need to eat food within twenty minutes maximum of coming home from work?
So, in a bid to vacate him from my workspace, I calmly said ‘Leave the pack ups, I’ll do them when I’ve had my dinner,’ to which he replied that he didn’t mind doing them. To which I replied that neither did I so if he could just leave them I would do them when I’d finished my dinner. Which I was just about to do after I’d finished washing my plate up when lo and behold, Pud popped up in the kitchen again, clapped his hands together and grabbed the lunch boxes.
At which point, my packed lunch time bomb exploded and I blurted, ‘I SAID I WOULD DO THE PACKED LUNCHES!’ (later on when I replayed this scene in my head as I often do after such outbursts, I probably did say this quite aggressively – in my defence though, it hadn’t come without fair warning).
So Pud left the pack ups and I did them.
I’m not daft – I realise that there is some far deeper-rooted psychological shit going on here relating to Pud wanting to keep himself busy while he’s not working and the fact that I’m a complete control freak. At the same time though, I’m also a Mum, I love being a Mum and I’ve worked hard to build up this role. I already have enough guilt about working and not being there as much as I should be for my kids, so of course I feel a little unsettled when someone comes along and takes over my Mum-jobs, however much I dislike doing them, without even asking my permission or attending the comprehensive training sessions I provide for newcomers.
Besides which, how is Pud to know that if you pack an apple for Molly, it will travel back and forth to school every day for a week? Or that Eddy only likes the apricot or raspberry frubes? Or that Molly will eat grapes but Eddy won’t? Or that Eddy will eat cucumber but Molly won’t? Or that my boss hates onion, so stuffing my tuna sandwich full of chunks of the stuff, complete with some of the brown papery skin, will probably have a detrimental effect on my career when said boss walks into the office just as I’ve lifted the lid of my lunchbox and unleashed the beast within?
So we seem to have reached an unspoken agreement where Pud continues to make the kids’ packups but no longer produces career-limiting sangers for me. And I now use the spare time that non-packed lunch production affords me to sit down and properly catch up with Molly and Eddy most evenings.
But if I come home and see empty lunch boxes just begging to be filled because Pud hasn’t got round to it yet, well I’m afraid I just can’t help myself – I grab those boxes and stuff them to the brim with lovingly prepared Mum-style lunches…..because old habits die hard you know!