Tuesday 19 November 2019

Life Lesson: 'Women are the rock in the world and they keep the world going'

Susan Jane White
Susan Jane White
Susan Jane White with her son Marty

Food writer and nutritional cook Susan Jane White on what being a mother to Benjamin, who is five years old, and Marty, who is three, has taught her

Becoming a mother has made me more patient

I was very impatient as a single person and now I have endless amounts of patience. I don't get annoyed or snappy very easily. I seem to have a lot more empathy and also I feel incredibly vulnerable in a way I never did before. Before I had children I felt confident and strong and I'm still that woman, except because I love them so much, you just feel 'if anything happened to you it would just destroy me'. There's just a flimsy, tiny little line between such happiness in life and the fear of something going wrong. You can see that every day, there's near hit and misses all the time between them running across a road or falling off a wall. There's so much danger and that has made me very vulnerable to this raw, all consuming power of love that I never felt before.

Theory is different to real life when it comes to parenthood

I actually did get the Gina Ford book and I read it and I had my fancy Excel spreadsheet out but then when my first was born I didn't go back to it at all. In fact I laughed at Gina. It worked for some people but it definitely wasn't going to suit my lifestyle and I laughed at myself how I thought I was just going to mould this baby into my time.

I knew 100pc I was going to have home births

A hospital setting wasn't for me. I knew from the very outset I'd be in a better position being at home than screaming at the doctor and waddling down the corridor. With both births, I was really lucky. In fact I don't know anyone else who had such gorgeous births. They came out with not even a bruise and very easily, both of them. Benjamin was born in his caul, which means he was born in his little amniotic sac, and he was born in water and he just floated in like a little water balloon.

The children eat everything we eat, within reason

Even though my book says 'wheat free, sugar free and dairy free' my diet isn't free from dairy and wheat. My whole idea behind doing the books is to help people reduce the mindless consumption of wheat and dairy but I haven't omitted it from my diet.

My sons have very different food preferences

My first one, Benjamin will eat everything from anchovies to olives, no problem, whereas my second one Marty is definitely more picky and isn't into his green vegetables. I don't know where he picked that up, his other brother does, we all do but he won't have his green veggies so I have to purée them into homemade ketchup and things like that. It's been a brilliant lesson for me; I get to understand parents a little more. It's not case of if both of them ate everything, I'd be clapping myself on the back, going 'aren't I just wonderful getting all of these greens into my children'. But I know it's personality and different flavour profiles and it's a lot more complex than telling parents just get your children to eat greens.

I think my parenting style is relaxed

But maybe somebody who knows me would say something else. I usually shock people when I go to children's birthday parties. Mums and dads are always surprised that I let the children have whatever they want, I don't have restrictions. That probably speaks as to how relaxed I am, but there is a strategy behind it. I don't feel restricting them is going to benefit them because psychologically it's just making a game out of it, which I don't think is really healthy. I let them eat whatever they want but tend to fill them with things they like beforehand like scrambled eggs on toast, so they're not going to overeat.

There's definitely guilt about being a working mother

I work in the mornings when they're in school but they're only in school until around 12.30pm and then I like collecting them and staying with them for the day. The odd day we'd have a minder over but there's definitely a guilt. They're so teeny tiny and they just wrap their arms around you on the days I do work and say 'I missed you Mummy, why didn't you collect me from school?'. It's heartbreaking, and it's so rare - I'm always there at the gates for them and I'm collecting them and I'm bringing them, but if it's one day in a month, they'll remember it and they'll bring it up a few weeks later.

I have such respect for women

They are incredible, they really are and I have a newfound respect, being a mum. They are the rock in the world and they keep the world going. I don't know how women in a family of four and five children can get through, even the laundry. Again, I've only two but it's constant cleaning. But you've got to love it - it's labour intensive with very low wages!

The Virtuous Tart: Sinful but saintly recipes for sweets, treats and snacks (Gill & Macmillan) by Susan Jane White is out now.

Irish Independent

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