Oh, I moan about life here in Thailand. A lot. The heat, the critters, the traffic. The military coup, the lack of democracy. My mother-in-law. The occasional tsunami. My blog is a glut of gripes, and these are the ones I select for public consumption. My private writings -- ooh, shudder the thought if anyone digs these up -- read like a Woody Allen movie without the humour, without an end (it's all about me, and woe is me).
But at the risk of making myself seem unsympathetic to the reader, I have to admit that overall life here is good. Too good to be true sometimes. Very, very cushy.
I have a maid who comes twice a week and scrubs the house from top to bottom. When the yard starts to look unruly, as it often does with the tropical growth, my husband makes a call and a day later we have a team of guys here attacking the palm leaves and cutting down the coconuts. Once, we even hired someone to come and change our light bulbs. I'm not kidding.
When something needs to be done, I don't think about how I'll do it. Instead the question that arises is, "Who can I get to do this for me?"
Thus, over the years, living in the not-so-real world, I've become lazy, especially about cooking. I'm not an avid cook in the best of times, but combined with the sticky heat (yes, I'm moaning again), the lack of an oven, and the fact that I can scoot down the road and pick up a fresh, healthy, fully cooked Thai meal for a buck, cooking becomes an even less attractive option.
Then I had kids.
Toddlers, it turns out, don't really dig Thai cuisine (Ever seen a 1-year-old's reaction after eating a stray chili? Not pretty). And loading a baby and a toddler into a car, then unloading them at a restaurant while you wait for the take-away to arrive, then loading them up again, only to re-unload back home, seems more work than just whipping up a dish or two. And the goal here, of course, is to minimize the workload. Because that's the goal of everyone in the tropics.
I've been given some great cookbooks by well-meaning friends and relatives. They're great reads. I love looking them over, mouth watering, imagining the tastes of these wonderful dishes. Then I close them, put them on the shelves, and make one of the three standby meals I regularly prepare: fried rice, pasta with mushroom sauce, chicken nuggets.
By sheer coincidence these are the exact same meals –- the only meals –- that my 2-year-old son will eat. My tepid desire to cook withers even further with every morsel that is spat out, referred to as "poop," or met with a clenched and unyielding mouth.
It's one of the great ironies I've discovered in motherhood: Something you once held in total indifference is now the cornerstone of your feeling of worth as a human. Feeding the family. Vitamins, minerals, leafy greens, hold the salt. Providing nourishment to another. Blah.
Who can I get to do this for me?
No, I'm not quite ready to turn over the feeding of my children to another. That would be beyond lazy, wouldn't it? That would be so ... unmotherly. But as I face yet another turned-up nose, I just might reconsider.
Because here in the tropics it's all about doing nothing -- and feeling good about it.
Lana is a freelance writer and mother of two, living in a state of perpetual confusion peppered with moments of joy, in Phuket, Thailand.