The Full-Time Mother

I’m not getting anything done.  And it’s entirely because of Arabella.

She’s not at school so she wanders around the house looking for me.  There’s not a minute’s peace.  I was typing an email to my sister this morning (very important epistle) and she came in with wet hair and said she was going off for her mani and pedi with the Vietnamese.  I had to put down my laptop (mid sentence) and say, ‘Arabella, you cannot be serious.  It’s 14 degrees outside.  Go and dry your hair.’

Farfalle Pasta

Arabella continued to scuff in her ugh boots towards the front door.  ‘I can’t be bothered’.

‘That’s the fastest way to catch a cold, get back here and plug in your hair dryer.’

‘I’ve got two layers on.’

‘If you catch a cold how do you think you’ll feel tomorrow night at your formal?’

‘As if I’m going to catch a cold.  I’ll take a Vitamin C’.

‘Then at least put on my scarf, it will keep your neck warm.’

And that did it.  She hates my cashmere scarf and wouldn’t be seen dead in it.  So she scuffed her way to the bathroom and turned on the dryer.  I picked up my lap top and resumed my email.  But she was back in the room within minutes.  All she’d bothered to do was dry the roots.  ‘Can you give me a lift?’

‘It’s a two minute walk.  It takes longer to drive.’

‘Okay, then I’ll drive myself.’

‘You don’t have a licence.’

‘It’s only up the road.’

‘That’s illegal Arabella’.

‘What could happen.’

‘You can’t drive without a licence.’

‘I’ve done it before.’

And we’ll leave that conversation right there.  I put down the lap top, again, and drove her to the Vietnamese nail bar where she decided to have a French manicure on her fingers and a soft pink on her toes.

Back home, I’d barely finished dealing with the laundry when she was back.  ‘What happened?’  I asked in horror because I was hoping for a longer reprieve.


‘Why are you back so soon?  I told you to stay there until your nails were completely dry.’

‘I didn’t want to.  Is there anything to eat?  I’m so bored.  There’s a geography excursion on Monday.  Do you think I could go?  Could you email my teacher about it?  Can we have pasta for dinner?  And Fred will be here soon.  Can we pick him up from Hornsby?’

‘There’s last night’s leftovers in the fridge.’

‘What is it?’

‘It’s chicken with barley and vegetables.  You’ll love it.  Your father had two helpings.’

‘Sounds a bit healthy.  Is there anything else?’

Like I’ve had so much time to whip up a banquet.  ‘No, Arabella, there’s nothing else unless you want to cook yourself some toast.  Eat the stew.’

‘What about the geography teacher.  Can you send him an email?’

‘I don’t have his email address.  I’ll email your mentor and she can pass it on’.

‘Fred will be at Hornsby soon.  Can we go and get him?’

‘Hornsby is an hour away.  I just don’t have time for it.  Can’t he get on another train and we can pick him up from around here.’

‘That’s a bit mean, mum.  They picked me up from Tamworth airport and that was about two hours away.’

‘They picked you up from the closest port Arabella and that’s what I’ll be doing for Fred.  He won’t mind catching another train.’

‘Well can you cook him a pasta?  And he doesn’t like the tomato ones, he likes the creamy ones.’

I retreated to my ‘office’ to try and complete a short email to my sister.  But she found me.  ‘Mum, the tailor’s on the phone.  He wants to know what time tonight we can get there for a fitting?’

I was shocked.  Stunned even.  ‘You can’t be serious.  He said he was delivering the finished dress here, tonight.  What does he mean a fitting?  Hasn’t he finished it?  Is it all still in pieces on the floor?’

‘I don’t know mum, he just says I have to have a fitting and he’ll stay up all night tonight and finish it.’

‘Well how’s he getting it here tomorrow?’

‘I don’t know.’

‘Do I have to go and get it?’


Something’s been lost in translation.  I distinctly remember discussing with the tailor (when I drove out to Liverpool to hand-deliver the fabric and have Arabella fitted) that he said it would be finished Wednesday and that he would deliver it to us Wednesday night.  What has gone wrong?

That’s my day (and night) sorted.  Nothing achieved.  Excellent.

And as for tomorrow, Arabella’s told me to ‘block out the day’.  ‘I’ll need you mum’, she said.

So will Arabella have a dress to wear to her formal tomorrow night?  We’ll all have to stay tuned.

Here’s Fred’s creamy pasta.  You’ll understand that I didn’t have time to make my own pasta or create my own recipe.  This one is straight from Jamie Oliver’s Jamie’s Dinners.

Jamie Oliver Pasta

Farfalle with Carbonara and Spring Peas

Serves:  4

Degree of Difficulty:  2/5

Cost:  I think cooking pasta for your family is one of the least expensive meals you can create.  I love to be able to put great food on the table that feeds the family for less than $20.00 and this is another of those meals.

  • 455g/1 lb farfalle
  • 1 egg
  • 100ml/3 1/2 fl oz double cream
  • seasoning
  • 12 rashers of pancetta or bacon, roughly sliced (I used bacon)
  • 3 handfuls of fresh podded or frozen peas (I used frozen – no time to shell peas!)
  • 2 sprigs of fresh mint, leaves picked
  • 2 handfuls of freshly grated Parmesan cheese

First of all, bring a large pan of salted water to the boil, add the farfalle, and cook according to the packet instructions.  Whisk the egg in a bowl with the cream, salt and pepper.  Put your pancetta or bacon into a second pan and cook until crispy and golden.

When the farfalle is nearly cooked, add the peas for the last minute and a half.  This way they will burst in your mouth and be lovely and sweet.  When cooked, drain in a colander, saving a little of the cooking water.  Add the pasta to the pancetta and stir in most of the mint, finely sliced – if the pan isn’t big enough, mix it all together in a large warmed bowl.

Now you need to add the egg and cream mix to the pasta.  What’s important here is that you add it while the pasta is still hot.  This way, the residual heat of the pasta will cook the eggs, but not so that they resemble scrambled eggs.  The pastas will actually cook the egg enough to give you a silky smooth sauce.  Toss together and loosen with a little of the reserved cooking water if necessary.  Season with salt and pepper, sprinkle with the Parmesan and the rest of the mint leaves, and serve as soon as possible.

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Footnote:  Arabella interrupted me yet again and said, ‘Mum, I put a white singlet top in the wash.  Do you know where it is?’  And, ‘Mum, I’m putting on fake tan.  Can you help me?’

I’ll be back soon!



  1. Such a fancy dish!  You sound like a super mom! 🙂

  2. I’m looking forward to hearing whether she lives to go to the formal. It must be a pretty close-run thing!

  3. In admiration of the patience demonstrated in the above story I am nominating you for the Food Stories Award. Please accept by following the steps at: 

  4. My all time favourite pasta is the Carbonara, and with spring peas it sounds incredible. Arabella sounds like a handful, I feel bad for you, Charlie. I hope her prom turns out well.

  5. Awww I;m sure the dress will be ready Charlie relax.  I’m reading you and I can see my self in your side, what can I say, I guess it’s a normal thing, growing up, having kids and hearing the word mom constantly in our ears..
    I love the pasta
    Hugs my friend!

  6. You poor thing …. and poor Arabella … She’s got to be bored out of her mind … Can’t wait to see how this all plays out 🙂

  7. You are both amazing… Arabella made me smile, I remember my son when he was younger than now… 🙂 Not easy to be a mother… Thank you for sharing this lovely post, I hope and wish everything to go well for you all, Blessing and Happiness, love, nia
    p.s.: I am cooking pasta tonight but will be with tomatoes… 🙂 My love loves. Next time for myself I can try your recipe.

  8. ChgoJohn says:

    When blogs  collide! 
    What a coincidence! We never used mint in cooking and it’s something I rarely use today. I bet it tastes great here, though. Gives the dish a little zip that mine is lacking. I’m definitely going to give it a try next time. Thanks, Charlie, for the inspiration. 

  9. Coffee and Crumpets says:

    My children must secretly conspire with yours! That sounds like my day. I was exhausted just reading your post! How do you have any energy? Well, I hope everything turned out alright for you and Arabella.

  10. I could imagine your mom-daughter dynamics haha.  reminds me of my own (wow i sound too old for saying that but yeah come to think of it haha) my 2 daughters are away for college (and son too which makes us emptynesters) one sounds like arabella and the other was exactly the opposite. i love them both but me and my arabella-usque daughter had really so many head butting convos haha.  
    i am eager to know what’s gonna happen next…

  11. I’ve always thought that most mothers are saints.  Really.  Your life is pretty much on hold as you raise the kids.  You’ll have spent more time worrying about the details of the formal and executing it all than will Arabella–yet, hopefully, she’ll have memories for a lifetime.  You are a saint, Charlie!  And the Jamie Oliver pasta looks so comforting for 14-degree weather.  Keep us posted on the formal!

  12. Lovely pasta, Charlie. And yes, it’s very clear as to why you would share Jamie Oliver’s and not create your own! I almost hate to ask this…Arabella with a driver’s license will only open up more concerns, that’s for certain, but how long before she can drive? You’ll worry more, but you’ll definitely have more time if she can do all this running around herself. LOL! I loved the idea that you should “block out the whole day” for her. She’s a hoot! Can’t wait to see how this drama wraps up 🙂 Debra

  13. Mandy - The Complete Cook Book says:

    Oh la la…  I will be sending you a little extra energy just in case you need it.
    🙂 Mandy

  14. It sounds like between the illness/enforced inactivity and the stress of the prom, Arabella is feeling particularly needy right now. I’m sure when she’s back to normal you’ll be lucky if you see her first thing in the morning as she breezes out of the house and the last thing at night when she drops in to get some sleep. Enjoy the time together … you’re such a good mum. 🙂

    Very nice pasta dish.

    I’m on the treadmill of thinking in terms of white (creamy alfredo), red (tomato) or green (pesto) sauces when I am planning my pasta meals. Like the Italian flag!

    I’ve often thought of serving a ‘tricolor’ assortment at family gatherings but they’re not THAT fond of pastas so I’d end up with a lot of leftovers. Actually, I haven’t had any clam sauce on my pastas in quite a while. That’s white-ish too isn’t it? 🙂

  15. Good luck with the dress!!!! The recipe sounds really good!

  16. Choc Chip Uru says:

    Oh man, my friend seems like a case of major boredom during sickness 🙁
    I know I tend to want to hangout with my mummy when I’m sick but not to that extent I hope!
    Sending you lots of energy to keep up my friend!


  17. I’m exhausted for you. Surely when one has the Glange, they’re supposed to be laid up in bed for hours at a time? 😉

  18. Lorraine @ Not Quite Nigella says:

    I kept reading and hoping that the story would end in that that meant that the requests for your time would end if you know what I mean! It must be exhausting! 😮

  19. holy cow!  I thought you lived in Sydney and when I read Hornsby I thought, “drive to Hornsby in the afternoon?  I’d slit my throat.”   We used to have a boat on the Hawkesbury and would drive to Hornsby from there, that was enough for me.

    It’s a good thing Fred likes pasta and that it’s inexpensive to make because by the end of this week you’re going to run out of money.   Love the pasta and hope the dress gets on her body in time.

  20. Oh Charlie, it’s like my daily does of a soap opera reading your blog at the moment! I’m exhausted for you too. I hope it all goes well. Have fun with the formal festivities tonight! x

  21. Lovely dish 🙂 I love Jamie Olivers dishes and you’ve done a great job ~
    Wow being a full time mother really can be stressful! But I really hope Arabella has a wonderful time at her formal tonight 😀

  22. InTolerant Chef says:

    Have you tried phenergan for Arabella? 🙂 I’ve heard it works a treat, and surely it’s justified with her needing bed rest and all? 🙂
    Good luck for the next two days sweetie! Xx

  23. Hope the rest of the day, and tomorrow, go well. I totally feel your pain. Those kids can be unrelenting. Can’t wait to see the pictures. Hope the tailor pulls through. 

  24. JasmyneTea says:

    Hope the tailor comes through, and hope everything goes smoothly for the formal!

  25. Juliet Batten says:

    Oh what dramas! Let’s hope the dress is fabulous and everything fits into place.

  26. The pasta looks great. My fingers are crossed over the dress… and the entire day.

    Perhaps you should invest in an iPod. If teenage behaviour is anything to go by, it is my understanding that having a pair of white headphones in one’s ears in entitles one to a free pass to completely ignore one’s surroundings, including people speaking to you!

  27. Love it! My sister uses her two daughters to explain why she’s always late. “The babies took forever to get ready!” Tasty looking pasta!

  28. Oh dear. And I sense tomorrow will be worse! Fingers crossed for the dress…

  29. The dish seems tasty!!! Meanwhile, get well soon Arabella because Mom is ready for you to get better!

  30. It does sound to me like Arabella is beginning to feel quite fine, thank you.

  31. Dear Charlie, 

    For some reason, farfalle is the least cooked pasta in my kitchen and I wonder why. I think crispy bacon is one of the best ingredients for a homely pasta.

  32. I just love pasta and bacon – it’s not so healthy, but I must admit I’m a creamy sauce fan myself! Love the look of this.

    You sound like a very patient person Charlie!

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