Lindsay Nicholson: Living with a man who eats chicken drumsticks as a snack

Lindsay Nicholson: Living with a man who eats chicken drumsticks as a snack

Home truths: How do you cope with a man who eats two chicken drumsticks while wondering what”s for dinner

2:07 AM on 26th May 2011

For us women of a certain age, the walk of shame is no longer trailing home in last night’s frock but an early dash to the corner shop for a litre of semi-skimmed — without which the family’s day can’t begin.

I’ve been caught out this way three times recently and the lad behind the till now smiles benevolently as if I am some feckless dope who can’t makes a shopping list.

He might be right. After nigh on two decades of military precision parenting, including 12 long and arduous years as a single mum, my new-found inability to keep the home stocked with the basics necessary for life has come as a surprise to me, too.

Feeding the family: Lindsay Nicholson, pictured with her daughter, Hope, has developed an inability to keep her home stocked with the basics

Feeding the family: Lindsay Nicholson, pictured with her daughter, Hope, has developed an inability to keep her home stocked with the basics

I love Lorraine Candy’s regular column on these pages — and I, too, have no idea how she copes with three kids and a high-powered job … Let alone the imminent arrival of number four.

But there are things about being a working mum that are definitely easier now than back in last century when I really don’t know how I did it!

In1993, after what was considered to be a wildly generous maternity leaveof 20 weeks, I was also in the then unusual position of having no partner.

On Friday nights, I would get home from work, retrieve the baby, breastfeed, strap the baby in the car seat and drive to the supermarket.

Then I’d park — inevitably, in the furthest distant corner because supermarkets still operated a ‘treat ’em mean to keep ’em keen policy’ and mother and child parking spaces had yet to be invented.

Next I’d put the baby, still in the car seat, in a trolley (no special fixings), shop from the list I had printed out on my Amstrad computer (see — it wasn’t totally the Dark Ages) and load the car, repeating over and over to myself ‘Do not place car seat on the ground’ for fear that in my sleep-deprived state I would drive off without the baby.

Then I’d return home, breastfeed again and fall asleep in front of a new sitcom called Frasier. I didn’t entertain. I didn’t go out.

Child-rearing lark: Lindsay says no sooner do you get the hang of one developmental stage than another one comes along rendering all your hard-earned skills useless

Child-rearing lark: Lindsay says no sooner do you get the hang of one developmental stage than another one comes along rendering all your hard-earned skills useless

I never ran out of stuff as my life was utterly predictable and also because to do so was unthinkable.

My mother lived too far away to make a mercy dash with a sliced loaf and I didn’t know any neighbours who could mind my daughter while I ran errands because I was out at work all day.

So I planned. And I shopped. And as Amstrads gave way to Macs, my shopping lists turned into Excel spreadsheets.

Luckily,and not a moment too soon, internet shopping was invented. Except this was in the days of dial-up when it took about two hours to do a shop andthe connection would always quit just before you paid.

But it was better than arguing around a supermarket with a child who fills the trolley with chocolate milk and Haribo when you’re not looking.

So we reached the point — daughter and I — where day-to-day living was straightforward enough that I actually met a man and got married. But as well as acquiring a loving husband and step-father, I was now living with a man-sized appetite that could demolish two chicken drumsticks while wondering what was for supper

You know that children’s book The Tiger Who Came To Tea, where the tiger eats all the food in the cupboard and then drinks all the water out of the tap. Well,it felt like that.

No matter, I instituted two shops — one internet for the basics; one Marks & Spencer for the treats, more lists, fortnightly rotating menus. His cooking nights; my cooking nights; and date-night complete with ready-meal for the babysitter.

This was easy. Given my training in the hard-knock school of life, I thought I could handle anything.

But the thing I have realised about this child-rearing lark is that no sooner do you get the hang of one developmental stage than another one comes along rendering all your hard-earned skills useless.

And inevitably my tiny bundle in the off-white Babygro morphed — seemingly overnight — into a gigantic strapping teen. And an extremely sociable one at that.

So our house now has a ravenous husband eating meals of his own invention, like Second-Breakfast and Pre-Dinner Snacks, plus an army of Amazonian teenagers who mainline giant mugs of milky tea. With sugar and biscuits.

And even if Danny In Strawberry Van has rocked up from Ocado the day before with 100-worth of assorted comestibles, I am still to be found staring gloomily at a fridge that only contains things like butternut squash and turkey mince, which are too labour-intensive for teenagers, or men, to prepare. But they don’t in themselves constitute a meal.

No shopping list — human or computerised — can keep pace. Hence my early morning dashes for milk.

But you know what, I am really trying to — as the therapists say — embrace this life stage because I know only too well that the next one will be along soon enough.

And that’s uni and the empty nest. I know it will break my heart not having her around…

But at least I’ll be able to console myself with a decent cup of tea in the morning!

Lindsay Nicholson is editor of Good Housekeeping, Lorraine Candy is away.