Need a break?
Yeah, I hear you, Sister.
Take your shoes off.
Make some tea.
I’ve been waiting for you to come back.
Yesterday I went to Mother’s group. You know, the one I love. And yesterday at Mother’s group I learnt that I shouldn’t be let out of the house again.
Not until I practice being social.
See my dilemma?
I arrived at Mother’s group late and bustled my whiny child and my bags of crap through the middle of the cosy and welcoming circle of women who were gathered there. This was my second time visiting, so I still did not know many people. Actually, my mind had erased all recollection of the mothers I DID meet previously, so basically, I was starting from scratch. Apparently, this week was a “What’s On Top” week, which means that we each talk about what’s on the top of our minds – what’s been bothering us or exciting us the most. Since I arrived late, when I sat down, it was my turn to speak. So I fumbled out the first thing that came to mind.
“Ok, well, um……… I’ve been SLEEPING! That’s exciting! I’m so happy to feel normal again!”
I looked around and noticed that no one was smiling at me, like I expected. They just looked back, blankly. Except for one women. She gave me a half-smile. But I got the sense that it was more to be nice than because she was interested.
I started to panic that I didn’t understand the activity, so I said, “That’s my exciting news. That I’ve been sleeping again. You know, because I wasn’t before. Because of the baby. And now I feel so good. I feel so happy. So I’m excited about that.”
More half-smiles. More silence.
Until it dawned on me.
I looked around the group and noticed they all had newborns. As they sat holding their babies and sipping their teas, I can say with confidence that on the inside they most likely felt like half-dead zombies wondering what day it was and where the hell they were and how they could get their hands on something a little stronger to drink and who on earth this women sitting in front them was, all bright-eyed, blubbering about all the sleep she is getting? Can someone tell her to stop? Someone? Anyone?
Social Rule Number One: Context clues, Rachel. Always check for context clues before you speak.
As the spotlight moved away from me, I turned to the woman next to me and smiled. “Hi, I’m Rachel”, I said. She smiled back and introduced herself. And then she said, “And this is Alex”, as she gestured towards her baby. I gushed appropriately and said, “Gosh, he’s soooo cute.” She looked back at me. Strangely. Oh God what? I thought. Now what? I looked back at her baby. Dressed in pink. Head-to-toe pink. Couldn’t miss the pink, really. There were frills and headbands and everything. “She”, I stammered. “She’s so cute”.
Social Rule Number Two: CONTEXT CLUES, RACHEL! Jesus.
She smiled back awkwardly and thanked me. We both quickly turned our attention back to the circle which was thankfully wrapped up in a new conversation. It was another woman’s turn to tell us her “What’s On Top” news and these were the words that came out of her mouth.
I kid you not.
I KNOW IT’S SILLY, BUT IT REALLY BOTHERS ME WHEN PEOPLE MISTAKE MY BABY GIRL FOR A BABY BOY.
She couldn’t have picked something else? A colicky baby? Breastfeeding problems? An overbearing mother-in-law, perhaps?
Everyone nodded their heads and laughed and smiled and agreed and told stories of how it had happened to them as well and all the while I just sat there nodding along and tugging at my dress and avoiding eye contact with the woman sitting next to me.
The morning was not going well.
I knew I should have showered before I left the house. Things always work out better when I shower.
The morning continued and I mingled with some other mums and tried my best to talk properly and listen well.
When the other mothers met Ella, they gushed. My God, she’s so adorable, they said. I grinned and said, She is, isn’t she?
Not thank-you, like the other mums say. Not yours is too, like the other mums also say. Just she is, isn’t she with no further comment. Like mine is the only baby in the world so cute. Like mine trumps all of your babies in a heartbeat. Like this one’s special, you see.
Social Rule Number Three: If you can’t notice context clues, just copy the other people. They know what to do.
WHEN IN DOUBT, MIMIC, RACHEL.
Where do they teach you this stuff, anyway?