I have missed writing. It is one of the things I do for my ‘play’ and I worked out last week just how important my ‘play’ really is for my mental well-being. Yes, stating the obvious, I know but sometimes, we all forget to ‘play’.
Going back a few paces, I set myself a challenge for my month of June to shut my computer off and close the office doors at six o’clock on the evenings where I am not teaching cooking classes at Relish Mama and when I am instead in my home. Home with my gang. I am sure that after seven years, it goes without saying just how much I adore teaching my classes but of course there is a flip slide and Mothers guilt comes to play (not to mention wife guilt!) when I am not home to kiss my darlings good night and sometimes don’t see them for a whole day & night and some weeks it can be multiple days and nights. You can perhaps only imagine my guilt.
My new rule set for June was set to benefit both my family and me. With the intention to make me ‘play’ more with those I love and to switch modes from work and home and have what we all strive for….. down time. Last week, being the start of June, was of course the start of my challenge and a challenge it was! We were blessed to have one of our busiest weeks ever (I mean this sincerely) and classes were full and plentiful. This meant that I would be home just one night as well as some other big work deadlines thrown in the mix. On my one night home I had so many plans (including shutting off at six o’clock) but I crumbled. I cried and I crumbled. I failed my challenge.
Writing this now, I realise how hard I was (am) on myself but on this night, I felt like a pretty sad failure. It was, in fairness, almost impossible to ‘shut down’. I was completely unrealistic. I had six classes that were all mine to teach, I had a husband who had been away. I wanted to squeeze in school pick ups and drop offs and needed to be there to run our kids to the varying after school marathon events in the one hour I could and then I was running straight back to work to teach. I was running on andrenaline and then on empty and figure I was not doing anything particularly well. On my night of ‘failing’ and on my only night home, I was dishing up dinner for my gang and my darling Ava comes and places her hand on my shoulder and says, “Mum, are you okay”?
“Why”? I ask.
“Because you are crying Mum. What’s wrong”?
You see, I had no idea I had tears running down my cheeks but then she hugged me and the floodgates more than opened. I couldn’t explain to her how badly I was feeling. How I felt like I was failing myself and failing them. I had no words….just tears and lots of them. I excused myself and took myself away to cry some more…….and I mean…..really cry. At that very moment, I remembered a time (actually there’s more than one) where my Mum had done the same and I was very likely around Ava’s age. I felt for my younger Mum so much at that moment and realised she must have been feeling like she was failing too. I wanted to be that little girl and tell her that was so far from the truth. It was outrageous in fact. My Mum was and is one of the most giving people in the whole world. My Mum did so much to make it all so wonderful for us. I was so glad that little girl wanted to come out and have a chat right then because I realized she was probably talking to me too and I needed it.
I…Nellie Kerrison…..will now shout that often I am so ridiculously hard on myself with absolutely ludicrous expectations on yours truly. I am delighted though to shout that feel that I am a really lovely and loving wife, Mother and friend. I understand that although I want more time with everyone I love…..I am doing the very best that I can right now at this time and if I can say that….then that has to be good enough. How dare I be so hard on myself because really…..as I write about last week, I want to smack myself across the head and poke myself in both eyes for being that critic. Being so harsh. How ironic that what stemmed from turning off my computer at six o’clock to benefit my family turns into a realizing that it is actually me who needs a little more love and time. My family seem to be completely well adjusted. We are not perfect but we are all okay. There’s a whole lot of love and support in this here house.
I bumped into a really old friend early at the supermarket the other morning. She was juggling two kids, a kinder run and a teary four year old. I admitted to being very teary myself last week to which this beautiful Mother said “really? I went through that just last night”. In that moment though, she had the wisdom to tell her family that she was looking after them really well and doing the best that she could but then she asked “but who is looking after me”. Her husband took the next day off. Brilliant !!! Why are we (sincerely both male and females I am talking about here) getting to the point of tears and exhaustion before the changes need to happen? I am taking this in my hands. I am responsible for my own health & wellbeing and I would love for those who love me to help and support me too whenever they can.
I am doing my June challenge with a buddy. He has set different challenges for himself and we have promised to check in regularly with each other to see how we are going. I love this. It is a very easy but gorgeous support system. He queried last week why I felt I had failed on night one? He questioned if I really thought that I could break old habits and master the challenge on night one. “Nellie…this challenge goes for a month with good reason”. “Be kinder to yourself and be more forgiving as realistically, as a Mother and business owner, you are not going to be able to shut down always at six o’clock. If you can do it half the time, fantastic”. Sometimes this guy speaks way too much sense. I love it though and needed it (Thank you Tim!).
This week was still very busy but I have tried to approach it a little differently. Just one of the things I did this week for me this week was for a few hours, I shut all else off to write in this space that I love with a full heart. This blog carries a huge part of my heart. I ‘played’ for some time in the kitchen, trialing some sensational recipes I have created and added to last night’s rustic Italian class that I taught. I bought some beautiful snapper and then, I just let myself play and the below recipe is now for you to enjoy and ‘play’ with yourselves.
As for my gang, my daughters pick up so many social cues from me. I want them to play with abandon & I want them to love themselves with all they have. Giving our daughters the tools, to navigate the daily onslaught of hyper critical messages they will receive (sometimes from themselves), is probably one of the greatest gifts I can bestow. I need to set the tone so they continue to grow to be kind, smart and non judgmental, especially to themselves. We are in the teen years for some lil ladies in this house. There have been more than just my tears of late. I guess I will be cooking lots more fish over the next few years if it is to be my play & cheap therapy !
Here’s a cheer to the beautiful people in my life whom I love so much. Here’s to my daughters and to my husband (you are da-man). Here’s to my support network. Here’s to my Mum (the younger her and the Mother I am blessed to have today) and …….here’s to me. Here’s to giving myself a break. Cutting myself some slack. Here’s to this blog….my space to create. Here’s to knowing that I need to play and here’s to all of you out there who may need to play too or an arm on your shoulder too to ask, “are you okay” ?
Big love to you all.
Barbecued snapper with oregano & peperonata
We all are well aware we need to eat more fish. It is so great for us but I know it is not often what our bodies crave during these cooler months. This dish however is a fantastic fish dish for Winter. It is nourishing and warming and although it might look like it is complicated, it is a synch. A little tip – make more of the peperoni as it will last in the fridge for at least a week and will work it’s magic to inspire you for a whole load of dishes during the busy week.
2 x 500-600g whole snapper, gutted and cleaned
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
2 garlic cloves, crushed
2 teaspoons dried oregano
2 lemons, sliced
4 bay leaves
Preheat oven to 220oC
Lay two layers of foil, twice the length of the fish (large enough to fold over on itself when baking) on a tray and place two sheets of baking paper on top of the foil. Place snapper baking paper.
Prepare the fish by gently making 3 slices in the thick part of the fish, near the head. This will help the fish to cook evenly.
In a small bowl, combine the oil, garlic, salt and oregano. Combine and rub all over the fish.
Place the lemon slices under and around the fish. Tuck the bay leaves into the head cavity. Dot with butter and fold up the baking paper
Cook fish in preheated oven for 15 minutes. Check fish is cooked, either by pressing down on the thick part of the fish, or peek inside the gut to see cooked flesh. If fish isn’t cooked return to the oven and cook for a further 5 minutes and test again. For the last 5 minutes of cooking time. Open the fish parcel to give the fish a little colour.
Place cooked fish on a serving platter and serve as is or with home made peperonata
This recipe can also be cooked using a 2kg whole snapper or snapper fillets.
60ml olive oil
1 red onion, sliced
2 cloves of garlic, peeled and crushed
4 capsicum (can be assorted), seeds and membrane removed and cut into large dice
1 x 400g tin of tinned tomatoes
A small handful of black olives, sliced
1 bay leaf
A pinch of white sugar
3 tablespoons great quality balsamic vinegar
Basil leaves or alternatively, fresh oregano leaves
Options, if serving as an antipasti:
A small handful of Italian parsley leaves, roughly chopped
A sprinkling of freshly grated parmesan
Heat the olive oil in a frying pan over medium heat and sauté the onion until softened. Add the garlic and cook for a further minute, stirring constantly to avoid the garlic burning. Add the capsicums and cook for a few minutes before adding the tomatoes, olives, bay leaves, sugar, red wine vinegar and 100 ml water. Cook, covered, for 30 minutes. Taste for seasoning and if it needs adjusting. Turn off heat and top with basil leaves or oregano.
If serving straight away as part of an antipasti, some freshly chopped Italian parsley and a sprinkling of parmesan can be quite lovely.
Can be served hot, warm or cold. If you like, you can transfer to a jar if you want to store it, for up to 1 week in the refrigerator. Also makes a great pasta sauce.