A moment of realisation today.
As background, I seem to be spending a lot of time at the moment walking, walking, walking with the buggy. It cheers Isaac up when he's cranky, sends him into spasms of delight when he's happy already, and provides a nap-conducive atmosphere that lets him sleep as and when he's ready. It's great that this works so well, but if you start off this kind of walk in the wrong mood, then you can easily descend into a pity party, along the lines of "Look at all the other mummies. They're having wonderful times with their babies, and they look so groomed and healthy, and you can tell their whole days are straightforward and perfect and they've probably just taken a little trot out with the buggy so they can flaunt their smug perfection in my face, before going home to have hours and hours of lovely rewarding interactive time with their babies including meal times where their babies ACTUALLY ALLOW SOME FLAMIN FOOD INTO THEIR MOUTHS* and then perhaps play peacefully on their own for a bit while mummy gets some housework done instead of having to wait until evening, and then they have some more joyous time together, and no one ever cries, and then it's bedtime". That kind of thing.
So, today, after a lovely singing session, we had nothing on the calendar, and it was mid-afternoon, and I knew he'd need to sleep again before bedtime, but he wasn't yet ready to, we trotted back until we were nearly home, him chatting and chirping away in the buggy, then took a sharp diversion to a lovely local coffee shop I'd never been in before. I hoicked him out, fed him for a bit (I don't need to say that. Assume that every time I lift this baby I feed him for a bit) and then perched him on the other end of a lovely two seater sofa in the window, with my leg there to prevent tumbles. For the next while, maybe 15, 20 minutes, I drank my latte while he cooed at me, then put it down and played tickle games and singing games and clapping games, then drank some more till he was just too joyously expectant, then played cuddle games and some more tickle games, the kind where he flings himself at me giggling and I scoop him up and could just eat him.....VIEW FROM THE OUTSIDE ALERT! To any observer I was the happiest, most gleeful and fulfilled of mummies. At that moment, none of my clothes had puke on (I still don't quite know how that happened), my hair was (unusually) brushed, I was dressed in a way that probably showed I'm back to a little below pre baby-weight and (she says immodestly) looking pretty good for it, and I clearly had the leisure time, finances, and energy to be sitting in a coffee shop in the middle of the afternoon. And it was all true! For that half hour, everything was delightful but the point (which it might have seemed I wasn't going to reach) is that it only occurred to me slowly that things might be just like this for the other mummies too. Perhaps someone walked past who I didn't even notice, saw me going babababababababa in his face again and again just to get him to giggle some more, and thought miserably "why do me and my baby** never have fun like that?" - and perhaps yesterday she was one of the ones I saw and felt oppressed by.
It's not exactly a stunning observation, I know, but it does make me think about admitting weakness, and not doing. It's easier to do it on a blog, easier to say well, I love this, and I love him, but it's still half-killing me, than it is in real life - in real life people sympathise (which makes you cry) or they boast about their own children, or they suggest solutions, with a hint of "if you haven't tried this, you're an idiot; if you have, and it didn't work, you're a Bad Parent". But if everyone's feeling like this, or a lot are, then everyone makes it worse by saying it's all fine, by not acknowledging the dark bits too. It's my justification for being as direct as I can when people do ask - certainly I'm not going to lie about his sleep - but I'd love it if everyone else did too, so I could know everyone's life has an inside and an outside, like mine does.
*yes, I know that the point of baby led weaning is that you never even let thoughts like this cross your mind, but still...
** when you've been sleep deprived for months, and no one appreciates you, and you're in the morass of believing that even your baby hates you, you let your grammar slip a little.