Just say hello

As schools are back this week, I thought it would be a good time for me to take Donut to a play centre.  It’d be quiet(er), and there wouldn’t be any “big kids” running around.  I had decided on taking him to a lovely little play centre, called Playdays Cafe, which is in St Helens (Merseyside).

Now, I’m a member of several websites, that encourages mums to make friends with other mums – so I decided to extend my little party of two to be a mummy social.

One particular website I’m a member of, is (ironically) called Mummy Social, and does allow you to set up events, and invite other mums in your area (or further afield, if you wish).  So I did.  I set it up about 10 days ago, and hey presto!  My invitations were automatically sent out to those in the St Helens and Liverpool area.

It was the eve before my “social”, and no one had clicked the “attend” button on the site.  However, I wasn’t disheartened.  As I said – I was already planning on taking Donut anyway.

I quickly made a post on a local mums facebook group, extending the invite there, and I did get a lot of interest – 4 other mums said they would be there with their little ones.

This morning started off as usual.  Gning and Donut decided they wanted “milk and cookies” for breakfast, and as soon as they were ready, we were out the door.  I dropped Gning off at school (just started year 1), and Donut got really upset, because he wasn’t going to school (he goes to nursery, three times a week).  I explained to him that we were going to play instead, so he hurried me back to the car…

I arrived at the play centre early.  A lot earlier than I had invited the mums for.  I had said 10am, but I was there for 9:30am.

I’m one of those people who suffers anxiety, and I did have a mini panic-attack this morning, thinking that people would actually turn up!  What would I say to them?  Should I just say hello?  How would I keep the conversation going..?

Donut quickly ran off and started playing.  He knows this particular play centre inside out, and has a habit of climbing up to the tallest part, then starts crying.  He gets “stuck”.  He isn’t really stuck…  He just realises that he’s at the top, and can’t remember the way down.  This is exactly what happened at 9:55am.  He stood at the top of the frame, looking down at me, sobbing.  One of the girls who worked there shouted up to him, “are you ok?”, she asked.  I replied that he always does this – he just can’t remember the way down.  I stood up and went to help him, but the girl had beat me to it.  “Don’t worry about it – I’m used to going up and down this thing.  You just sit down and enjoy your coffee”, she said with a smile.  Brilliant.  Mother of the Year award goes to a complete stranger, who shot up the climbing frame quicker than I could pick up my cup.

Donut made his own way down, with guidance from the girl, and was so happy when he reached the bottom.  He did his little happy dance, and even “high fived” her, before she made her way back behind the counter.  Next thing you know, he’s up at the top again…  Only this time, he remembered his new learned skill, and was back down!

There were plenty of other mums, and carer’s of children, in the play centre.  I looked around, looking for any glimpse of familiarity in their faces.  Was that the girl who replied that she would attend?  I’m sure I recognise that little boys face…

One mum was heavily pregnant, and looked really stressed out.  She had a little girl with her – I’d say about 18 months old or so, and the tiny tot would not leave her side.  The bump had to climb over the 1.5ft barrier occasion on occasion to force her daughter to play.

Another mum was there, and had what looked like a 3 year old boy, and a baby boy – around a month old.  She looked a natural.  Laughing, chasing the child around, whilst “wearing” the baby on her chest…

Then I realised that Donut had disappeared again.  I thought that he was up on the frame again, but then I heard him laugh.  I turned around, and noticed that he was in one of those coin operated rides, with another little boy of a similar age, and the machine was on.  Mum of little boy was at their side, smiling.  I shot over to their side, and apologised that Donut was taking over her sons’ ride.  She laughed, and told me not to worry about it.  Her son doesn’t usually mingle well with other children, but he seemed to like Donut.

It was now 10:20am.  I was getting bored, sitting at the table alone.  If anyone had turned up from the Mummy Social site, or facebook group, no one had made an effort to try to find me.

I hastily posted a status on the latter mentioned group, asking if anyone was there, and if they were too shy to say hello – because I was in the same boat.  I did get lots of replies, but all were “sorry, I forgot”, or “I didn’t know you meant today…”.

I called Donut over, and asked him if he wanted to go home and see daddy, which he said “yes” to.  On with his shoes, and home we went.

I think the point that I’m getting to here is not about anyone else turning up, it’s about something much more.  I was sat on my own, and apart from the other two mums’, who seemed to be there without any other adult company, there were other “groups” of mums / child-carers.

Did you know that 4 out of 5 people would rather use the statement “I’m depressed”, rather than “I’m lonely”?

If you’re with a group of friends, and you see a mum sitting on her own – smile at her.  Say “hello”.  It’s not much, and takes no effort at all, but you may just bring so much more to that persons’ day.

Seek out the mum who is focused on her smartphone.  Most of the time they will say, ‘Oh, did you mean me?  Hi.’  A little eye contact, a little smile, a little victory for humanity.

You never know – you may just have met your new best mum friend by one simple word.

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An open letter to the mother who has to go back to work

To the mother that has to go back to work.

You may have been absent from work for a long time, but you’ve certainly had your hands full.

You, yes you, have brought a child in to the world.  Granted, there was someone else to help you at the very beginning, but it was YOU who gave birth – or, if you’re like me, you’ve had your tummy sliced right open.  Just for them.

If you put the child to feed on your breast, you’ve had the cracked and painful nipples.  Sometimes you’ve had the teeth too…

If you fed the child on the bottle, you’ve spent endless hours washing and sterilising those pain in the arse bottles.  Not to mention the scooping of the powder, and the constant temperature checking.  It may be ok for you to drink cold tea, and slurp scalding tomato soup, but the baby’s milk has to be perfect.

You’ve been pee’d on and vomited on – almost daily.

You’ve been elbows deep, sometimes literally, in baby poo.

You’ve found baby poo in your hair…  An hour after you changed the last dirty nappy.  You don’t even know how it got there.

You know exactly when your washing machine will finish the load – because it seems to be on all of the time.

You’ve watched your child grow from a pure and innocent baby, who was so delicate, to a smiling, laughing, possibly crawling, and maybe even standing, ‘not quite a toddler’ child.

But alas, you have reached that time where you can no longer put it off.  You’re venturing in to worlds anew – even if you’ve been there before.

You’ve made the hard decision to leave your child behind and go back to work.  Afterall, you need the money, right?  You need your career, right?

But don’t think of it like that.  Think of it as a new beginning.

You are going to miss your child.  You are going to constantly wonder if you made the right choice to return to work.  You are going to cry every now and again…  Afterall…  You’re leaving behind that pure and innocent baby behind…

But you will be ok.  

It is ok to cry.

It is ok to miss your child.

It is ok to wonder if you made the right decision.

Just remember that at the end of your working day, you have those beautiful smiles to go home to.  Those cuddles, that you now take for granted, are going to be cherished even more.  Bedtimes may still be a struggle – especially if you have one of those children (like mine) who doesn’t like to go to bed – but you will love the effort you have to put in.

Why?

Because that’s your child, and even though you are away from them the whole day, you know they are there, waiting for you when you get home.

From a mother who’s been there before x