Talking baby stuff

by Kristina Gavran

I miss talking adult stuff. I miss deep, concentrated, long conversations about literature, politics, or even men. I cannot say for sure that is „adult stuff“, but it is definitely different from talking about teething, milestones (is your baby turning? Is your baby saying da-da-ma-ma?) or asking what you put into puree.

I’ve met so many mums and got to know quite a lot about their life – I know their baby’s sleep routine, how much they are eating or their digestion problems, and yet I have no idea what profession those mums have. What is their favorite band? Where did they used to go dancing? On a business networking meeting you would start a conversation with „And what do you do?“  In a club you might start  with „What music do you listen to?“ In a stay and play group you start with „How old is your kid?“ We don’t talk about ourselves anymore, we constantly talk about our kids.

On the other hand, having a baby is like having a dog – it is your ticket to meet so many new people in the parks and just start a conversation because you have something in common. Pram, baby, dog…they are all signs that you share similar topics. It is much harder to find out about someones hobbies or music style. Although it is nice to share problems like teething and colic with complete strangers, get some sympathy or a bit of advice, I miss good old fashioned conversations about weather and rain. Or just not talking to strangers at all.

1210

You become a mum, but nobody tells you that all of a sudden you have to sit in a circle and sing nursery rhymes, making some weird movements with your body (The Wheels on the bus go round and round) and smile to all the other babies and mums. My first stay and play group felt like everybody around me was on drugs; mums who are weirdly happy, and a group leader speaking in high voice: That is beeeeaautiful! Let’s sing again!

I started avoiding children’s centers after a parenting workshop in which the workshop leader gave us papers with drawings of faces with emotions – sad, angry, tired, upset. She said „Circle the face that shows how you feel“ I felt like screaming. Thank you very much, I am an adult, I know how to express how I feel, I don’t need drawings for that. Just because I have a child doesn’t mean you have to treat me as a child.

Recently I met my friend Ann who is not a mum, and doesn’t even have an interest in babies. We were walking in a park and talking while my baby was sleeping in his pram and it was so good to talk normally again. But then we met another friend of mine who has a baby as well. I exchanged a couple of sentences with her „How cute is your baby! Wow, what a nice dress you have (baby has a dress, not mum). Yes you do, yes you do! Nice dress!“ and I just noticed Ann rolling her eyes. Later on Ann told me „You mums behave completely different when you are alone, or when you are in a group.“ I remembered the previous scene and yes, I caught myself speaking in high voice, making weird faces and repeating words. It’s a little like two teenagers meeting together and all of a sudden changing their normal speech patterns.

So, maybe all the other mums, same as I do, also complain about talking baby stuff all the time. But once they are in the mother circle they just play along. I should protest. Of course I should protest. But I just keep mum.

One foot in front of the other 4, 5, 6

by Tina Hofman

One foot in front of the other 4

Batman had a fever last night. First time in his three and a half years of life.

His heavy breathing awoke me and I got up around midnight to see how he was. By 4am we were both still awake, his fever peaking.

We dozed away a little in the morning, just before the alarm went off.

I called my Mum, seeing if she could come early to stay with Batman, so I can go to work. I woke her up some 2 hours before she happily interacts with the world. She agreed to come asap. (gratitude.) In reality, had this happened in Birmingham I would be so much more stressed. (gratitude.)

 1307

Rehearsals are never fun after barely any sleep. Even less with knowing there is a poorly someone needing me at home. At various moments of my attempt at directing the actors tried to decode what I am trying to say. My happy level of articulation died a painful death today. My ability to make myself understood was greatly reduced, probably following the amount of sleep I’ve had. I could not look after my team and my project properly, and left my Mum to look after my poorly child.  For a brief moment I entered a deep dark labyrinth which was resonating with familiar questions about own professionalism and mothering decisions and meaning of life. I quickly withdrew from that pitfall. More guilt was not was I needed right now.

One foot in front of the other 5

The kindergarden saga continues. Spiderman is chuffed to bits, Batman less so.

Spiderman is gregarious, independent and makes friends instantly. Batman thrives less from new social situations. He cries at the idea of being left alone in unfamiliar surroundings. He does not want to stay. For several days I sit in the kindergarden room with him. In my coat and shoes, aware I have only a very limited amount of time before having to shoot off for work, I am trying to support his transition. And I feel I am crap at it.

I manage to sneak out and get to the rehearsals on time. A couple of hours later I call the kindergarden. He cried a bit, I am told, but is fine and happy now. I am sure this was said in a positive way, such as “there is nothing to worry about “. Unfortunately I did not hear the positive. I linger on the “cried a bit” bit.

In the afternoon break, I am having coffee with my old friend The Guilt:

The thing is, I enjoy my current job as much as a child enjoys their play. Not every job that I do is like that, but quite a few are. I sometimes get engrossed so much that I can hardly call it work. Still, it is, and I feel hugely privileged to be able to love what I do so much. So, Spiderman is in tears so I can leave and get so engrossed in my job to forget about the rest of the world for a few hours.

I finish my coffee and go back to work, leaving The Guilt to wash out the cups.

One foot in front of the other 6

Airport.

I am looking at a coffee cup next to my computer. I am alone.  I have a very linear task at hand:  have coffee (alone), do a bit of work (alone) and board my plane (alone). I am taking a short break in the current project to travel away to do another. I am travelling alone. One-woman travel.

For a moment I try to make sure I have not lost anything on the way. Wallet, passport, boarding pass, computer, bag.  I stir with a shock! “Where are the kids!?”- flies through my mind, only to remember instantly I am flying solo.

Having just said goodbye to my family, I feel a sense of grief and underlying freedom. Not quite sure what to do first. Almost like I have to unlearn some automatic habits. Like looking for the nearest toilet.

I feel I need not leave as much time walking to the gate now that I am alone. I have time at my hands and nothing but my own tasks to think about. Being engrossed in my computer and enjoying a powerful kick of a truly Italian espresso, I nearly miss my plane. Well done me.