Brett Wortman

What's for dinner? ... Actually it's not my problem

DRIVING home from a long day at the office, I let my mind wander to that all important question that any devoted mum must always have the answer to. What's for dinner?

I know it's what you could call a first-world problem but for mums (and some dads) it is a question that gets asked of them day after day after day.

For many years now, that question has been asked by at least one or more of my children on a daily basis.  They didn't always like the answer but that never stopped them asking the question.

But this day was different - for the first time I realised that I didn't have to have the answer.

With a nearly 19-year-old boy and a 16-year-old girl already home from work and school, the issue of what was for dinner that night was not actually my problem.

So there I was, cruising along on the highway, smiling to myself as I realised we had just reached a new stage in our lives. My moment of quiet celebration was interrupted by a phone call asking me "what's for dinner Mum?".

Luckily the call came after what Oprah would describe as my "lightbulb moment" so I cheerfully answered "whatever you want to cook ... hope it's ready by the time I get home because I am starving".

I knew there were enough basic ingredients on hand to make something simple and they both know how to cook a couple of their favourite dishes, so I felt reasonably certain that they wouldn't order takeaway or dish up toasted sandwiches.

As I drove I considered how so many stages of parenting are achieved so gradually that it can be hard to realise you have moved on at all until one day you realise you haven't had to change a nappy, run a bath, cut up their food, iron their clothes or pack their lunch for quite some time.

For me it always came as a surprise tinged with a little bit of sadness when I realised we had moved on from yet another stage of childhood. Of course that's when I slapped myself and realised that I should be celebrating the fact that I would never again have to wipe a snotty nose, read the Very Hungry Caterpillar or dress a Barbie.

It can be a little more challenging to realise you have reached a milestone with teenagers - just because they can do something doesn't mean they will. And again there can be a strange mix of sadness and joy as you realise that your job as Mum is slowly being made redundant.

See what happens when you don't have to worry about what's for dinner - you get time to actually think.

Getting back to the teens in the kitchen - I was fully expecting a phone call asking for help…. it never came. As I pulled into the drive an hour later I was wondering if they had actually even moved away from their televisions and computers at all.

I opened the door with a mix of anticipation and dread.

To my surprise (and relief) the table was set and dinner was ready - honey-soy chicken strips and steamed rice had never tasted so good. 

* Life with teenagers can be like an out-of-control roller coaster ride and when there's no one else to turn to for support or a second opinion, I go undercover to blog about the everyday dramas of raising my otherwise perfect teens.



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