Lesson #400 of motherhood: You won’t always have a great time at social events when you have young children.
In the past six years, I’ve had two babies born in October. And that meant by the time we were over the tiny, newborn haze, Christmas was coming, and there were a gazillion events to attend, with a baby in tow. Okay, so not a gazillion, but probably like 7.
And at every single one of those parties, I behaved in exactly the same manner as the mum described in the following Facebook post:
*This picture is blurry for a reason. I'm not trying to put this specific family on blast, but I am trying to shine a…
In the post, an onlooker shared a picture (that is meant to be blurry), depicting an isolating part of motherhood.
“I’m not trying to put this specific family on blast, but I am trying to shine a light on these little moments of motherhood that can add up to feeling isolated and resentful, and,” the onlooker explains.
“While at lunch yesterday, I watched this mom entertain her baby with a balloon, with walking around, with touching the art on the wall, etc. (we’ve all been there) the entire time her family enjoyed their birthday celebration with food and drinks and lively conversation.
“No one stepped in to let HER enjoy being part of the group. This image, with the mom in pink on the left (with her baby touching a balloon) is an accurate visual of the constant, UNSEEN care-taking of motherhood many moms do that leave us out of the group.
“Either no one noticed the subtle work she was doing, or no one wanted to give up their enjoyment to let her have a taste of it too. I considered offering to hold her baby so she could rejoin her family for a bit, but I knew that was gonna be weird.”
A big part of me wants to say how damn unfair this really does feel. Because it really does.
Especially because as a new mum you’re usually: a) ravenous, b) exhausted and c) desperate for adult conversation. So the prospect of a family lunch or a birthday treat out is utterly delightful.
But then, like the lady in the description above, you spend half the damn day twirling around the room, watching everyone else eat the cake, sit on their bums and laugh and enjoy themselves. It can really take the shine off.
Read more on motherhood:
- Kiera Knightley finds motherhood a challenge!
- Duchess Kate opens up about motherhood
- Why motherhood is like adolescence
The baby does need you. But you also need you!
I remember the first Christmas after my second son was born being tucked into a bedroom for most of the day to a) put him to sleep and b) keep him asleep. It was hot, I was desperate to feel normal, and it was Christmas so I wanted to kick my heels up too.
But you know what I didn’t do? And what this woman in the FB story didn’t do either? I didn’t ask anyone for help. Not even my husband. I just kind of thought to myself (and not in a resentful way), well, he’s a new baby, and he needs me.
So while I wholeheartedly support the idea of getting everyone to notice the mum at the party #bringusbacktothetable (however they can). I also think there are a few things we mums can do to help ourselves. So we can at least eat lunch, or enjoy an hour of the celebration.
- Split the day on the way
Tell hubby you’d really like to spend an hour chatting with your Aunt Suzy, so work out a time where he can be on baby/toddler/child duty.
- Where possible, attend the event in the best hours for the baby
Sure, you want to show them off, and everyone wants cuddles, but timing is everything with a new baby. Or an older baby. Or kids generally. Can you make it lunchtime instead of dinner, a coffee date instead of a whole day? What works with nap times and feeding times?
- Bring your baby carrier, bring your play mat, bring your baby toys
Bring whatever you need to bring to ensure your baby has what he needs to be entertained. That way you can sit for a while and have an arsenal of supplies at the ready to help keep everyone calm. That includes you.
- Have a glass of wine when you arrive
This is a bit cheeky, I guess, but it will help you relax and if you are breastfeeding gives you time to unwind, and kick up your heels before you’re next on duty. It will also help you to say hello to everyone while the mood is high.
- Don’t be afraid to ask the person next to you if they could help
Be it cuddle the baby, cut up your food (this happened more times than I’d like to admit), get your partner’s attention (ahem, you’re up, buddy!) to take over, or even grab you a drink or a chair. Lady with a baby, folks. It’s not as fun as it looks sometimes!
NB: Of course, when you’re attending an event you’d rather not be at, reverse this advice completely – babies can also offer the best excuse in the book for not attending, or sticking to the sidelines!