It was a Monday night.
The boys had just recently started back at school, with our youngest boy, home from his first day of Kindergarten! He was a mixture of hot, tired, bothered and slightly bewildered at what this whole school thing was really all about. “Do I have to go back tomorrow?” he asked.
It was 44 degrees celsius and I looked out from my kitchen window to my green sludgy pool, as the pump had recently decided to give up and we were still waiting for it to be repaired.
No-one could swim, it was still too hot at 6pm for anyone to go outside and so naturally, the only option for our eldest 2 was to engage in a Nerf gun war, in our small living space directly off our kitchen (insert eye rolling here).
With bullets flying overhead, I could barely hear the whimpers of our youngest boy, who was more than ready for dinner and bed.
Rushing to get this pan of Chicken Margherita out of the oven, I didn’t quite check that my oven mitt covered the entire handle, so it was a miracle that when the handle touched my bare forearm and I heard it sizzle, that I didn’t a) swear or b) drop the pan and all of our dinner on the floor.
You know those moments when you wonder if you just quietly slipped out the back door, maybe no-one would notice and your occasional dreams of running away from home would finally come true?
That was one of those moments.
But it was the kindness of my eldest son who, once he realised how badly I had burnt my arm, tried to help me in the kitchen and calm the others down, that saved me that day.
One minute I am dreaming of the escape, the next, I realise that despite the drama and chaos of family life, every now and then our kids surprise us with kindness and empathy and a little voice in my head says ‘Don’t give up, think of the adult you want them to become. Hang in there, it won’t be chaos for ever.’
Reflecting back as I write this, I realise that the incidents of that Monday night were small, incidental and ever so normal, but it’s sometimes those very moments, that tip us over the edge as mums.
I am eternally grateful that our evenings are not video recorded for anyone to witness.
So why do I often write about the mess and mayhem?
Increasingly our world is worshipping at the altar of stylised perfection and the mess and mayhem rarely gets any air time.
Celebrating the wins, the good, the beautiful, the fun and the joys are so important.
But it’s when I look into the weary eyes of fellow mums, who dare to whisper ‘am I the only who is struggling here?’ that I realise we need to be brave to share ALL of it, the great and not-so-great moments of raising kids and family life.
On a side note, everyone ate this dinner without complaints, which is a WIN to celebrate!
Think thin slices of chicken breast baked in a rich tomato sauce, with garlic and basil doing all the talking. A smattering of grated mozzarella for those who love cheese and then finished off with fresh basil or spinach leaves.
Hang in there friend x
- 2 large chicken breasts, cut in half horizontally, to form 4-5 thin pieces.
- 2 tablespoons good quality olive oil
- 3 garlic cloves, thinly sliced
- 1/2 a 700ml jar of Tomato Passata (tomato cooking sauce)
- 1/2 bunch of fresh basil leaves (or a tablespoon of dried basil), some reserved for serving
- a handful of grated mozzarella (more or less depending on your family tastes)
- a handful of baby spinach leaves (optional)
- Preheat oven to 190 degrees celsius.
- Heat olive oil in a medium oven proof frying pan, over a medium heat.
- Add garlic and stir for a minute, till a little golden.
- Pour in tomato passata, add most of the basil leaves and bring to the boil.
- Place chicken in the pan, making sure they are sitting snug, but in a single layer so they cook evenly.
- Throw a few more basil leaves on top of each piece of chicken and sprinkle grated mozzarella over each piece.
- Place pan in a preheated oven and cook for 10-12 minutes, or until chicken is cooked through.
- Remove from oven, garnish with extra basil leaves and spinach.
- Serve with vegetables or a salad.
- Cutting chicken breasts as evenly as possible will mean they will cook at the same time.
- Place the rest of the tomato passata into a container and freeze for later use, as it only lasts a few days in the fridge once it's been opened.