Diary of a Mum: A Letter to My Former Self

Diary of a Mum: A Letter to My Former Self


Last night I found out that my restaurant, Artichoke, was nominated as the “Best New Restaurant” in my city. I won’t find out if I won for another few weeks during a formal awards ceremony with other local business owners and politicians. No matter what the result, I’m so proud of my staff and myself. When I think back to what my life was like 5, 10, years ago I couldn’t have imagined that I would turn my passion project into a business, and open a successful restaurant by myself, all while being a single mum.  

I keep thinking about my younger self, just 5 years ago. I had 2 young kids and a new baby. We were both crying at night, Chris with the usual newborn needs, me knowing I was in a failing marriage. My ex and I were high school sweethearts. We were so in love when our first son George was born that it felt only natural to have another. By the time our second son Daniel started walking, I knew I was always meant to be a mum but my relationship with my husband was on the rocks. He resented that my priority was always taking care of our young children and I was frustrated he never put our family first. My heart aches for that young, lonely mum who was so in love with her kids yet felt deeply unsupported and uncared for by her partner. I would tell her to trust her instincts that something wasn’t right in her marriage. I would tell her to stop worrying if it was because of her, something she said, or did, that made her relationship fall apart.

I tried everything to reinitiate the spark lost in my marriage including planning date nights and wearing sexy dresses I thought my husband would like. I wish I didn’t waste one second trying to convince someone to want to be with me and instead spent my precious energy with my beautiful sons who have always loved me unconditionally. As a last attempt to save my failing marriage, we had another baby. My ex had been so thrilled during my pregnancies I thought another baby, maybe a girl this time would remind him of our happiest days together. And I had always imagined myself as a mum of three. When our last son Chris was born, premature and with complications, it became glaringly obvious to me that my husband wasn’t the support system we needed. My sister moved in temporarily to help me take care of a premature baby and two young boys while my ex moved out. 

It was during this most difficult period of my life that I turned to cooking as a way to nourish my family and mend my broken heart. I had already been a vegetarian for several years, and making fun, delicious vegetarian meals that my kids actually wanted to eat became a much-needed distraction for me. Making food into funny characters, dinosaurs, or interesting shapes became something my kids looked forward to. Now unique plating is one of the trademarks of Artichoke. Less than 2 years ago I had the once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to buy a struggling restaurant in my area. My sister was supportive, she even offered me a loan so I could get my restaurant started. With all of my dreams on the verge of coming true, the familiar feelings of self-doubt crept back in. If I could speak to that scared, aspiring chef I would tell her to take a chance on herself, that she was worth believing in. I would tell her that the food that nourishes her family and her soul will also nourish her community. That she is talented, strong, and capable of anything. 

Future me may be a “Best New Restaurant” award winner, the owner of a successful chain of restaurants, a grandma, or a cooking instructor. I know now that the possibilities of what I can do are endless. I hope that future me feels as proud of herself as I do now and believes in herself as much as her sons do.

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