People talk about the arrival of your first child as being isolating, and I can see where they’re coming from; suddenly you go from working full time, in an office, surrounded by colleagues, in charge of your own day to being at home, on your own, at the beck and call of a tiny new person who you love very very much but can’t always quite work out what they want. And you don’t necessarily know many people in the local area if you moved there for work and spent the previous few years working or commuting.
But I don’t remember it like that; there were eight of us in my NCT group, we all became good friends and we’d meet up at least once a week and probably more often to sit and eat cake or to take the babies for walks to justify the cake eating. And when we weren’t meeting up there was swimming class or rhyme time or any one of a whole heap of Mama and baby activities. It was wonderful. And busy.
But four and a bit years on I think it might be easier to be a little well not exactly lonely, but certainly longing for a little adult company as a Mama of three than it ever was when it was just Kitty and me. There are a limited number of classes that you can take three small children to, and meeting up with friends is just a little tricker to organise with all of our children and their different schedules and so though we meet up as often as we can, it isn’t once a week anymore and the children tend to snaffle the cake. I’m not saying I’m sat home every day sobbing into the laundry while the children hurtle around me, but every now and then you have those moments when it would be really nice to talk to another adult, just to chat about the nonsense of the morning, to be companionable on the hardest days and know that there’s someone else rooting for you.
The times when I just really wish my sister was near enough to pop over on a whim and say “we’re having a real humdinger of a day – feed me cake!!”.
One solution would be to move my sister’s house nearer to mine, or at least move the M25 out of the way, but as we might both be in our forever homes and the motorway isn’t going anywhere our saving grace is FaceTime.
I know I’ve written before about how much I love it. With our family spread all over the country and no one near enough to visit without lots of planning I love that it means that my children know their nearest and dearest by sight as well as just voice, and that as a result they’re happy and confident in running to their grandparents or their aunts and uncles for cuddles, even if they haven’t seen them for a while. And I love that my little nephew knows exactly who “Auntie Cay-ee” is, even if I suspect he has occasionally been surprised that I’m not framed by an iPad in real life.
(ignoring all housework in favour of baby cuddles and snoozes!)
And that’s all still very very true. But with Pip’s arrival I’ve become even more glad of it. Being at home with three little ones is fun, it’s rewarding, it’s full of moments where my cup of happiness overflows, but it’s also hard work, and some times immensely frustrating. And if I don’t quite have the cake on tap I’ve got the next best thing. Because I don’t just have a Friday lunch date with my sister any more, I think we talk almost every day of the week now. Sometimes we’ll have lunch together, with the tiny nephew trying to peer around the corner of the screen to see Kitty or giggling as Elma pops in and out of view, sometimes we talk during his nap time, she irons and chats while I try to stop Elma putting pasta shapes into her water. And some times when the girls are settled playing and Pip and I head off to do the washing up I can take her with me, propped up on the windowsill.
(cake making meets washing up)
Technology means that our two kitchens become next door to each other; a little window into each other’s worlds, as we potter and chat, set the world to rights and decide what’s for supper, and in doing so I find that if anything has been out of kilter or deeply frustrating in the morning, I can reset, pick myself up and keep pressing on, and on the days when it’s not me having a tough time I can be there to listen and exchange a wry smile.
And all that without having to persuade Kitty into outdoor appropriate clothes, find Elma’s left shoe or Pip’s jumper. Perfect.