Now Baby Girl is walking, our trips out have changed somewhat. With the nice weather, we’re spending lots of time in the park & we’ve recently discovered the play park. (The slide is her favourite.)
She toddles all around, picking up sticks, watching the older children play, chasing pigeons (of course), etc, etc.
Baby Girl is also extremely friendly. She happily plops herself down on other families’ picnic blankets, helping herself to their toys, even patting younger babies on the head saying hello. Naturally, I then follow (not with the head patting & toy stealing).
And so the polite chit chat with other mums begins.
Baby Girl is thirteen months old, so I’m not new to this. At swimming last summer, I exchanged numbers after the first class with two women as we realised we lived close by & could walk together – now we even text & meet up outside of swimming for playdates. Woohoo! Mum friends! (Please remember this success & vision of normality as you read what follows…)
But this is different. There’s no ‘excuse’ to exchange numbers here, no definite second meeting if you say something stupid the first time round. Because instead of us walking the same way every Tuesday & getting to know each other over time, you have the attention span of a toddler to make a good impression, gage whether this is someone you want to swap numbers with & chat enough that it’s not weird to ask for their number but not enough that they are inclined to say no.
All whilst praying your toddler doesn’t suddenly do something utterly unacceptable like smack the six month old on the rug, or refuse to give their toy back. (Thankfully, so far, all hypothetical.)
It’s basically speed-dating for mums.
And it’s my worst nightmare.
I should say at this point, I’m a friendly, likeable, relatively normal, chatty person. I can talk til the cows come home to almost anyone (thanks for this trait Mom).
But I find this Speed Mumming really hard.
I think there are two main issues at play.
1. I am 26 but look 16, with a baby. And let’s be honest, no matter how intelligent & interesting a person you are, if you’re 16 with a baby, people make certain assumptions.
I had a bit of a negative experience with this last summer, when a group of mums didn’t even feign interest in speaking to me at a coffee morning until they overheard that I worked in marketing at a large telco before mat leave (i.e., I wasn’t 16). Safe to say, I haven’t gone back to that coffee morning & I’ve been a bit more choosey about who I bother to spend my time with.
2. I’ve never been in the dating game. I’ve never really been picked up in a bar or had someone ask for my number & to be honest, I’ve never been on a proper first date.
So basically, I have no game.
I was so utterly terrible at the whole thing at school, I just didn’t bother – I was always terrified a boy might realise I liked him but not like me back, so I’d just pretend I detested him instead. It was easier.
(I can see your eyes flicking back to the ‘sane, normal, etc, etc’ part. I did say ‘relatively.’)
The few times I have got my act together in the romantic department, on the whole, vodka was the catalyst. With the OH, for instance, we’d been friends for some time, hanging out, ordering take away, watching movies – classic ‘non-date-we’re-denying-our-feelings’ stuff – until finally I had a couple of shots too many & the rest history.
Even with my now best mate, Baby Girl’s Odd Mother, we met on the first day of Uni in our introductory lecture & all I could think to say was, “I like your glasses”. Really!? That’s all the game I have!? Really!? Another girl from my halls saved the day by bemoaning lectures with a hangover, swiftly changing the subject, meaning Trini gave me a second chance & our friendship was sealed over many vodka based drinks throughout our first year at Uni.
But something tells me if I show up to the swings with a bottle of Grey Goose under the buggy & a selection of mixers, it won’t quite have the same effect…
Last week at the park, on two separate occasions, I got chatting to two separate mums, both with three year old boys Baby Girl followed round (a trend the OH will not enjoy, I’m sure).
We chatted for maybe two minutes or so before both mums (clearly more experienced at this than me) said, “So, do you live round here?”
They may as well just ask, “So, do you come here often?”
When I was telling the OH about my day later, he said, “that was your in, Amie. They were clearly open to exchanging numbers.”
So long story short, I never asked for their numbers. And I’ve fumbled my way through another chat in the park since, when no ‘in’ was given, so I didn’t risk asking.
But as my mom always says, “tomorrow is another day”. And practise makes perfect… right?
*NB: the baby in the photo above is actually a friend’s daughter who we bumped into after I had failed dismally at Speed Mumming earlier that day. I have her permission to post the photo here; I do not take photos of random people’s kids & post them on my blog. That really would be the nail in the coffin for Speed Mumming!