Parenting is work
One thing I didn’t bargain for on becoming a mother is that parenting is relentless. Rewarding, but relentless all the same; babies can do little for themselves. They can’t use the toilet, they can’t put clothes on (they can, incidentally, take clothes off, but this is usually less than useful) and they struggle to amuse themselves. They are often most content with hanging from your trouser leg or ‘singing’ to you while standing at your chair edge watching you eat dinner.
Their skill lacking means your ‘to do’ list is significantly longer than it once was and your ability to achieve 10 tasks in a day reduces to about three, on a good day.
We needed help
As expats, we mostly – unless we have visitors – don’t have any family or friend babysitting support. So, we hired a nanny to help us out two days a week. She came recommended from our neighbour as a wonderfully caring lady, who ‘likes to cook a bit’ when the baby sleeps. Was that the understatement of the century.
She was sent from heaven
Our nanny is a vibrant Sicilian lady with a thick Italian accent. She’s wonderful with our son, and naturally, this was our first requirement. However, no one told us she missed her calling when she didn’t audition for Masterchef.
Our gem of a nanny comes with a well-practised repertoire of family favourite Italian recipes which she cooks with gusto and serves in family sized portions. Our meals are large enough to feed four people and we spend less at the supermarket than we did when I cooked everything. I’m convinced she sings to the food on an evening to make it multiply in the fridge overnight. However, it’s not all roses.
Don’t anger the nanny
I have a tip for you. If you ever have any leftover chicken in the fridge don’t ask your Italian nanny to add it to her Spaghetti Carbonara recipe. It turns out Italian women are quite attached to their family recipes. When I suggested – what I thought would be a tasty addition to a Carbonara – she promptly laughed in my face, put her arm around my shoulder and said “My Dear, My Dear, My Dear… how naive you are. Don’t even consider asking me to change my family recipes. They’ve been in my family for more than 100 years; I’m not about to switch them up for you!” Well, I won’t make that mistake again.
Despite chastising me for trying to alter her family history, she still continues to cook the most delicious offerings, from roast chicken or salmon cooked in white wine with olives, capers, garlic and herbs, to freshly made tomato sauce for pasta and omelettes with whole spears of asparagus.
She bakes too
Her talents don’t end there. She even bakes. These creations can be anything from apple cake to bakery-worthy cream puffs. One of my favourites is her ‘cookies’. These little drops of heaven are a cross between a freshly baked scone and one of my favourite iced buns that I’d get from Greggs as a kid. They have an added hint of orange and they come out of the oven soft and warm with just the right amount crunch, topped with a homemade sugar icing. Her food makes me want to move to Italy.
What a gem
We absolutely lucked out when she landed on our doorstep and quite honestly, I don’t know what I’d do without her. She’s not our son’s grandparents, but she’s the best second place we could have hoped for.