Once upon a time there was a mother, who had three children. The mother loved her children very much, but she also had a Job. The mother loved her Job too, not as much as her children obviously, but enough to want to be with her Job. Her children were all clever and funny and the mother felt terribly proud of them all. To say sorry for spending too much time with her Job, sometimes the Mother would make sure that Sunday was a special day. She would cook feasts for the children, sometimes inviting the Father who lived down the road and ignoring the tension that existed between the Father and the Partner. Because the mother just wanted her children to be happy. When she tried very hard to make the Sunday Feast very special, she would cook Crumble. The mother was very good at making crumble and when the children cheered because it was crumble for pudding and during the hush that fell when all the children, the Father and the Partner ate the crumble, the mother thought, “I am a Proper Mother, for look, I make delicious crumble, with sweet raspberries or summer fruits, topped with cream. This will fill my children with enough Proper Mother love until next Sunday.
This was my life once. Before Ed. L and I often made the special crumble together. Occasionally I would make custard, but L and I always ate it with cream. To be honest, J doesn’t like crumble much, and K and L and I would shake our heads sadly. Now, that time is gone. Yesterday, annoyed that L had gone out for lunch without asking, I made crumble for dessert. On a Monday. K came in and saw the crumble. I could see she thought it was wrong in so many ways. Monday and a food that L will fear. After dinner, I served out crumble. K ate hers with ice cream, C with cream. I didn’t ask L, I gave her a portion with cream. Her head bowed, she looked tearful and rebellious. It stayed untouched until we had all finished. I coaxed, I encouraged, but I told her it must be eaten, and her head fell on the table, with her hands covering her eyes. I patted her back. Eventually some was eaten. No more than a third. It was a start, but also felt as distressing for us as it was for her. Because it was a reminder of the happy family times we used to love and have lost. And also because I didn’t make crumble as a treat, but as a way of showing her their was no get out clause – escape for lunch, come back to punishment crumble. None of us deserve to live like this.