Being a parent is an odd mix of being crippling lonely but also never being alone. It’s a time when your relationships shift and readjust and, sometimes, fall through the cracks. These are the places I found toughest- be sure to offer a smile at anyone clutching a baby here:
The Doctors’ Waiting Room
Going to the docs’ is bad at the best of times. No one likes the hushed tones, the oppressive heat, the panic when you didn’t hear if it was your name being called (‘Could bzzzz come to room bzzz for doctor bzzzz please?’). It’s stressful enough to navigate the fierce receptionists and disease-riddled copies of Saga Life magazine. When you add a screaming newborn and a bitching dose of mastitis then you are guaranteed to never have felt more alone. You wish your mum was there.
The Library Play Group
You feel duty-bound to take your child to the Read and Rhyme session at the library. A stash of library books signals you’re doing ok, right? Your kid will def have a head start if it can sing Frere Jacques, right? So you spend the morning prepping for the trip. You’ve remembered the buggy, the rain cover, the expressed milk, and the baby. You forget the library card and that makes you late. You have to squeeze on the edge of the circle and you slump down, just on the outskirts of the group, in a tiz of sweat and nappy bags. Everyone seems to know each other. You’re too self-conscious to sing so you mime the words. You cry in the car on the way home.
Now, a kid-free trip up the ‘big Tescos’ can feel akin to a mooch in Milan. With a kid, not so much. Some childless prat would’ve taken the last Parent and Child spot so you’ll have to schlep your child across the car park and the baby’s squawking in it’s car seat which is the heaviest thing you’ll ever carry and it’s banging against your hip and you’re already feeling like a failure because you’ve forgotten to bring any bags. Some old person will always tut and helpfully mutter ‘someone’s tired’ and you’ll shout ‘NO SHIT’ really loudly in your head. You might even torture yourself by morosely shunting the trolley through the clothes aisle hoping to find something that would fit, hide the puffiness and make you feel good. You realise you’ll have more luck with the latter in the bakery aisle. You’ll have a really lovely chat with the person on the checkout: they’re usually women, they’ve almost always had children and they always just seem to get it. As you walk back to the car from the trolley park, you think how that’ll be the last conversation you have today until your partner gets back from work.
You feel like a teenager when you realise social media makes you feel inferior. You should be above all that, should’ve out-grown it. But when you see all the vloggers, bloggers and buggers meeting up, winning awards and wearing cool slogan tshirts, you feel a key stage three sense of envy . You want to pose against a wall and drink cocktails and have a fringe. Social media manages to make you feel like everyone’s in the cool gang and you’re not invited. You buy a new red lipstick and practise your selfies with a sense of self-loathing.
You’ve arranged to meet someone you met at a baby group in the early days. You’ve stayed in touch sporadically since you first met in a musty village hall. Maybe she’s gone back to work and you haven’t. You feel like she’s got a million interesting things to talk about. You desperately think of things to ask her while you pick food off the floor and try to stop the baby from banging its Lamaze toy against the table. You look at your watch and think about making your excuses but only 40 minutes has passed. Will she think you’re being rude? You just want to go home and put your joggers on. You smile and ask her about her commute.
Feeling blue? Pop me a message and we can meet for a walk or a cuppa. We don’t even have to chat- we can just eat our feelings and have a little cry.