I interrupt my brief blogging hiatus to have a bit of a whine. (So if, like me, you are of those people who finds whining annoying, I do apologise in advance).
Perhaps my depression - (oh, how I hate using this term to describe it - it makes me feel like a spoiled, unappreciative and self-indulgent stay-at-home mum when there are people with real problems out there) - anyway, perhaps this feeling of dejection can be attributed to the lack of self-worth which comes with me not working outside the home. I'm not saying that this is the case for all SAHMs - many have an innate self-confidence which is not derived from anything external, like their job title, achievments etc.
But in my case, sadly, since my sense of self-esteem is virtually non-existent, I do need these external assurances of my worth.
This Ramadan I decided to break with unhealthy tradition and tried to eliminate as much toxic fried foods from our diet as possible. Realistically, I accepted that my husband and kids are accustomed to the artery-clogging dishes which are traditionally enjoyed (in our community) during this month. I knew that I was fighting an uphill battle against 'the expected' and by them comparing our meals to what other people were having.
I explained to them that I felt that fasting involved spiritual cleansing, but also physical detoxification. What was the point of exercising restraint all day and then gluttonizing at night? It makes no sense for people to end the fast more unhealthy than when they started.
But I am aware that my older three kids are fasting so I am not completely averse to them enjoying treats they would not do under normal circumstances. However, I do insist that this be done subject to certain limitations. I will not serve fried daltjies (chilli bites) every night; samoosas and pies are baked and not fried, our vegetable and water intake will be increased, etc etc etc.
I have accepted that they do expect a sweet treat. However, I have a problem with them devouring horrendously oily fritters and bollas. These sweet desserts are usually enjoyed with the soup and savouries as part of the starter, often leaving little room for food! So, I decided that meals will be served in a more sensible fashion - with soup and 1 or 2 savouries as the starter, a nutritious meal (usually consisting mainly of protein and vegetables) and then the dessert (which will be baked, not fried; consist of reduced sugar and will always be fruit-based or contain fruit).
I have spent so much time with recipe books and on the internet, trying to find ways to provide delicious, yet healthy-ish meals for the family. And, in my humble opinion, they have turned out to be really pleasing.
However, the response from the kids to these changes was somewhat underwhelming. Where were the daltjies? So, to replace the chilli bites, I baked savoury muffins. Which they practically tossed aside.
Bit by bit, with the help of their dad, they have managed to undermine my carefully-planned vision for a healthy-ish Ramadan. Firstly the dad brought home packaged waffles, simply to be popped into the toaster. This, he informed me excitedly, would be enjoyed with cream and syrup.
''Oh, lovely'', I'd responded through clenched teeth.
Last night, as always, they broke their fast, enjoyed their starters and then went to pray before returning for the main meal. Which is when the dad informed them that he was buying McDonalds for supper. He had 'forgotten' that, in our earlier discussion about whether to buy take-outs or have a healthy home-cooked meal, we had eventually settled on the healthier alternative.
I felt about ready to burst into tears. Partly because I had spent the afternoon cooking. And partly because of the kids' enthusiasm at not eating my lovingly-prepared, carefully-researched-and-planned meal.
But mostly, I suppose, because this is what defines me right now.
I am a stay-at-home mum. I want to provide my kids with the advantages they would not have had, had I been working. This includes me helping them study. It includes us spending quality time together, chatting and joking after school, while other kids are still sitting in aftercare.
And it includes me providing them with healthy, carefully-planned homecooked meals (with no processed ingredients).
And when they reject this I can't help feeling rejected - as if I don't then have a purpose. I don't bring in an income; I don't have an impressive career. This is me - this is what I have to offer.
And it really hurts when it goes unappreciated.