The most extraordinary thing has been happening to me over the last few weeks. I have been feeling, for the first time in my life I think, broody. I know! I know! The madness of the thing. I have spent the last four years bitching and moaning and complaining at length about pregnancy and babies and small children and then just as Sam lets up, stops being quite such a staggering life-destroying, joy-seeking missile, I start to think "Hmm, maybe it would be nice to have more children?"
I have been regarding myself in this moony phase with some wry, critical distance. Enjoying your life again and enjoying your children as they are in their current phase after some years in the wilderness, is not the same as wanting another baby. I think it's easy to confuse the two feelings, thinking that this must mean that you want more.
Feeling that Sam is just too insanely adorable with his little fat legs in their corduroy bags and his chubby little feet and his tiny baby voice and his hopeless baby speech "Dis?" "Bobo?" "Cuggle mama?" "Dada gone??" is not the same as wanting another baby. I want to preserve Sam just as he is, in aspic. I want time to stop because he is so sweet, so good at sharing - still doesn't understand "mine", yet, he's not a hitter or a biter, not really throwing tantrums yet - it's all just too perfect. He's just a Platontic little boy-toddler and the idea that this is all going to go at some point is just awful. So the instinct is to reach for another one, to chase after the dream, blindly, at any cost.
I'm pleased that I'm having the feeling, though. There is a general narrative in this family that I am a cold, unfeeling strange automaton trying to pass as a real human and occasionally I think that the narrative might be partly true. So to experience this genuine gut-feeling is quite a relief.
And then last night Sam woke up at midnight, fussed and wailed and drove me mad until 2.30am when he then vomited all down himself and all over his bed.
As I stamped back downstairs from the nursery to my bedroom in a rage, having finally settled Sam to sleep, slammed myself into bed and punched my husband in the head for breathing a bit loudly, I saw again the madness of it all, the relentless tyranny of babies and allowed myself a wry smile about my "broodiness" in the darkness. It was a genuinely soothing thought, having just cleared up a lot of puke and changed a full set of bed linen, (which always rattles one's nerves a bit, no matter how much experience you have), that at least I wasn't also pregnant, at least there wasn't also some three month old somewhere. Nice try, Mother Nature! Find some other sucker.
I can't believe I haven't shared this really great recipe with you yet, for coconut fish and leeks from Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall's new whatsit "Light and Easy".
It's very easy and employs raw coconut oil, which is supposed to be very good for you. This, plus the curry paste listed below, are available from Waitrose.
So here we go, for 2. This is not exactly how Hugh does it, but it works very well all the same.
2 fillets of any firm white fish you like
1 70ml can of coconut cream or milk
1 tablespoon of Free & Easy mild curry paste (absolutely delicious curry paste, the best I've ever found)
1 large or two small leeks, chopped
salt and pepper
raw coconut oil (it comes in a jar)
Preheat your oven to 200C
1 Lay your fish fillets on some foil on a baking sheet and season with salt and pepper
2 Melt 2 tablespoons of coconut oil in a pan and then when melted drizzle a little over the fish fillets. Parcel the fillets up loosely in the foil and put to one side.
3 Put the chopped leeks in the pan with the rest of the coconut oil and cook gently until slightly collapsed - this takes about 10 mins. Then put the fish in the oven and cook for 20 mins. If you are having this with rice, probably stick the rice on around now, too.
4 Add to the leeks a tablespoon of curry paste and stir in, then add the coconut cream or milk. Cook this very gently all together for 20 mins until the fish is ready to come out of the oven. The curried leeks might need a bit more salt.
5 Serve the fish flaked onto a bed of leeks and rice.