I bet most new mums and dads remember their first trip out after a new baby. The excitement and trepidation of that maiden voyage into the wilderness with your new bundle of joy.
I remember ours well.
It was a stroll into town for a visit to the midwife for our first check-up, followed by a quick trip to our local supermarket to get supplies. I also remember well that this was the first time we had used our buggy in public. And boy was it unwieldy.
But what I remember most is catching the wheel on the corner of an aisle in the supermarket, causing a jam behind me and the OH as people waited while I tried to manoeuvre our new bundle of joy and her set of wheels around the aisle corner. I also remember the lady behind me tutting at this incident. That tutting will stay with me, as will the beads of sweat, hormone-induced tears and embarrassment my poor first-time buggy-driving caused (and all while sporting stitches ‘down below’, sore boobs and on a couple of hours’ sleep). I remember even turning around and murmering, “I’m so sorry, it’s my first time driving this thing”.
Postpartum spacial awareness? It’s a myth.
Being a parent out with a baby, new or old, can be stressful, isolating and intimidating and can leave normally confident people feeling, quite frankly, rather vulnerable. Am I right? And, for new mums especially, all those hormones make us even more out of our comfort zones at our new roles and responsibilities.
We don’t want to be a burden with our new little ones and associated equipment. We’re not trying to clip heels with our buggies and do, honestly, go out of our way to make sure we aren’t getting stuck in aisles. But something seems to happen to spacial awareness when you have a baby – it disappears!
Many of us also try to maintain the quiet so as not to ruin anyone else’s shopping or dining experience. But, often we fail to get it all right, much to our own disappointment and self-consciousness. I do, honestly, remember being the diner relieved when a screaming baby was taken outside (“Thank goodness for that,” I remember saying). Had I known then what I know now, I would have handled it differently and given an understanding nod to the parents (no doubt embarrassed by their failed lunch and its impact on others), or even plain old gone up to say: “Hello, how’s it going? Honestly please don’t worry about the din, is there anything I can do to help?”.
It takes all sorts.
Motherhood exposes the goodness and the cracks in our surroundings.
There are kind people who will jump to help you with the door while you try, badly, to get your buggy through a stupidly narrow doorway with a stupidly heavy door; while there are others who will just stand and watch, or look away as you perform the splits while wedging your foot in the door to stop it from slamming on your baby.
And there are some people who will avoid you at all costs the moment your baby lets out a cry, while others will look over sympathetically and understandingly. Either response – funnily enough – can easily send you into tears the first few times. Yes, even the kindness!
Just a few months ago, in fact, a lovely lady at our local Waitrose jumped out from behind her till to give me a hug after I nearly broke down in tears falling on my bum trying to get a bag of peas into the bottom of my already packed pushchair tray. The cast iron efforts to hold the waterworks back gave way, and a tear rolled down my cheek at her thoughtfulness. “You looked like you needed a hug,” she said. I did. It lifted my whole day.
To parents of old and new, we say to you: “Go easy on yourselves. Buggies get stuck, doorways are too narrow, babies cry, and not everyone gets it. Focus on the important things: you, your baby and your own wellbeing. Have a massive virtual hug from us. You are doing a great job. The day will get better.”
To people out there, seeing (or hearing) someone having a tough day with their little one/s, we say to you: “Be one of the kind people. Don’t be a mother tutter. If you see someone struggling with their buggy or grappling with their shopping or bags while trying to control their children and emotions, offer to help them. Even if they decline, you will have made their day just that little bit lovelier and easier. Your good deed for the day!”
Lauren, The Mother Side x