Monday, October 28, 2013

The Cheeseboard of Change


Last weekend, while I was rushing around an expensive hipster boutique trying to select a very, very last minute gift for a partyand trying not to break any overpriced china in the process, I bumped into a friend.

This unexpected bumping came as quite a shock - partly because I was preoccupied with trying to choose between a painfully elegant cheeseboard and a painfully elegant tea towel (for the record, I chose the cheeseboard) and partly because I was trying to pretend I wasn't blistering in shoes one size too small for my post-pregnancy plonkers.

My friend appeared equally shocked to see me, but not because I was holding a cheeseboard (although I'm guessing it wasn't quite what he had in mind when he left the house for his lackadaisical weekend coffee-and-browse.) Rather, he was shocked to see me because I was a mother, and I was out of the house.

Before you load up the outrage cannon and sharpen the spears, let me clarify that my friend was not being sexist. He was not suggesting I throw the cheeseboard up in the air in shame and scurry home, nor was he suggesting I should exchange my bridal shower frock for an apron and spatula post haste.

No, my poor friend was simply acting under the influence of clueless, non-parent syndrome: a common and curious affliction which runs rampant through our circle of friends.

The syndrome is characterized by a complete lack of understanding about the realities of parenting, coupled with a willingness to help out and offer support. The combination of the two leads to a series of misjudged but well intentioned acts and behaviours which leave everyone a little frustrated.


Their affliction is not their fault - they are a wonderful bunch of not-quite-thirty professionals, but they still have their feet firmly planted on the safe side of the parenting bridge and have no way of knowing what parenting is all about.


Under the shadow of the clueless syndrome, they have been duped into thinking that parenting
is a nightmare that swoops in low, consumes you whole and saps your will to do anything but parent for the remainder of your natural life.


They mistakenly believe my husband and I have been chained to our house, where we must change nappies and sing lullabies and apply teething gel until such time as the universe implodes or the baby grows up and finishes school and gets her own apartment.


The poor gaggle stare at us wiping baby kiss spittle from our chins as though we are a smeary window into their unavoidable futures, then quickly peddle their fixie bicycles to the pub to quell their sweat with a cold pear cider and trio of dips.


They inexplicably assume we can't go out to dinner anymore, can't leave the house after dark in case we turn into pumpkins, and can't drink even the smallest quantity of alcohol lest we miraculously spirit the spirits on the baby.

And, of course, they assume that as a mother I cannot possibly just leave the house without the baby to do something by myself and for myself for a few hours - especially not to do something as frivolous and absurdly normal as umming and aahing over a cheeseboard in a shop on a Saturday morning.


There seems to be no point arguing with the syndrome or trying to free my friends from its blinding clutches; their time will come, and they will see the light with the same joy that a mum sees the bottom of the laundry basket.

In the meantime, I'll continue to sip vodka and cranberry drinks and take the baby to restaurants and buy cheeseboards willy nilly - and enjoy the fireworks while I wait for them to join me on the dark side.

M x



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* Mumsnet Bloggers Network 'Blog of the Day' October 29 2013 *

photo credit: Ewan-M via photopin cc

18 comments :

  1. You have have so accurately described the "great divide" that exists between parents and non-parents, and you have done it with such wit. Great post!

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    1. Thanks Rachel, glad you enjoyed it :)

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  2. It's funny because parents are the first ones to moan about how relentless it all is. Except when they're in earshot of non-parents, of course.

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  3. Clueless. You are a classic example of what we, the infertiles, call "Mombies". Simply clueless how ignorant your post is - how about taking a step off your high horse, and walk in the shoes of infertile couples just one day. The world is kid/parent-centric - every single aspect of life is.

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    1. Hi Anonymous. Thanks for taking the time to stop by and have a read, and taking the time to comment. I understand that you disagree with my post, and that's cool - this post is just an observation about my close circle of friends, and how they have reacted to two of their good mates becoming parents, nothing more and nothing less. This is not a post about fertility and infertility - but I would love to read a post from your perspective sometime.

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  4. I think women like to be their own worst enemy. Mothers vs. non-mothers. Why all the judgement?

    Your friends don't have kids, so you should let them have their own ideas about parenthood. Maybe your friends will be the kind of parents that stay in instead of go out for dinner. Maybe your friends will stop drinking when they have kids. Maybe your friends will be less judgemental about non-parents.

    "Influence of clueless, non-parent syndrome" is how you describe your friend, but they lack experience in parenting and probably aren't even thinking about parenthood, but insensitive, judgemental, self righteous parents are a breed in a class of their own. Just because you are a mother doesn't mean you have the hardest job in the world and have the right to preach to others.

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    1. An interesting take on this post, Anonymous.

      I think you have missed where I was coming from. There is no preaching going on here, no nasty judgement, just a tongue-in-cheek observation about differences in perspective and the dynamics in my social circle.

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  5. sorry, i think this is a bit patronising. there are many different ways to bring up a family and be a parent and although at the core there is the same fundamental need to be constantly there and attuned to your child, it's unrealistic to assume that you can't find/experience that in any other relationship, ever.

    i don't want to offend and i think your post was really well written but i can't help thinking that you're just venting frustrations here. it's not the truth for everyone.

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    1. I absolutely agree with you - there are a myriad of different ways to bring up a family, and I support them all.

      The post is about my personal experience and my own personal truth - I don't think there is a universal truth when it comes to matters of parenting and friendships.

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  6. I have had this happen to me twice in the last week - my wonderful, supportive, interested in my baby friends have just made the decision for me that I wouldn't be able to go to certain social events. I dont think your post is judgy or preachy, or even directed at other women. Its just what happens if you are among the first of your friends to have kids. You need to have a sense of humor about it, which clearly you do!

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    1. A sense of humor makes the world go round :)

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  7. Great blog! Funny, light hearted and well written. Some people are reading waaaay too much into this (shame all of said people allowed their comments to show up as Anonymous!) Anyway, well done Mum Danity I thought it was great.

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    1. Thanks Nicola, glad you enjoyed the read :)

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  8. Wow, I am amazed at the reactions you have posted. As a recent entrant into the mysterious, murky, world-altering arena of parenthood I completely understand the post. We have friends who always look behind me when I emerge in the real world, even if I am in adult non-spittle-covered clothes, searching for the small person I must always carry with me. Just like you can't know what bungee-jumping feels like by explanation alone, parenthood (not necessary biological) can only be fully understood by experience.

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    1. Thanks for your comment Anonymous. On a side note, I'm envious of your adult non-spittle-covered clothes, I really must get some of those some day soon! :)

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  9. Yep you never really GET it until you've had children of your own. One friend, who had kids before us went on and on for yonks - when are you going to start etc? I found that so annoying I made sure I never said it to any other couples. EVER. When are you going to have number two is worse. My kids are teenagers now I've loved every moment. Well mostly! Very funny post btw.

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    1. Thanks Jane! We're already getting the 'when are you going to have number two' survey on a weekly basis - maybe I should make a tape recording now to save my voice?! :)

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