Weeks old: 29
I like: Biting mummy, Sophie la girafe, boobs, shouting
Mummy is learning: Patience, not to let her fingers get too close to my chops
Before Little O arrived I am happy to admit that my partying days were far behind me. However, I did enjoy popping out for a meal or a film with friends or Mr O, occasionally having a drink after work with my colleagues or inviting friends around for dinner. I think I would consider myself to be a very social person. One of the things I think I failed to anticipate was how much having a baby would impact getting together with other people.
Don’t get me wrong, I didn’t imagine that I’d be having loads of boozy nights out as the mum of a young baby but even something as simple as a cup of coffee with a friend is now considerably more complicated.
First of all, there’s getting to wherever you’re going. When we moved to Essex, I comforted myself with the fact that we were only an hour out of central London. I had no idea how hard travelling for an hour with a baby would be. Little O gets bored remarkably quickly and when he is bored he gets shouty. No one enjoys a shouty baby on public transport, least of all the shouty baby’s mother. In winter there’s also the nightmare of trying to figure out whether to dress the baby for the temperature outside or the temperature on the train. And if you’re more than a few minutes from home you have to consider when you’re going to leave to get home before rush hour, never mind bed time. There have been some events I haven’t been able to attend at all because the journey was just too long for Little O.
Once you are out, chances are the baby will wake up from their nap and decide it is play time. Babies have short attention spans and don’t like to be anything less than the centre of attention. We’ve taken Little O out for lunch quite a few times with family or friends but now that he’s really alert and engaged he has no interest in being quiet and he gets very bored. This usually means that we play pass the baby throughout the meal. Everyone takes turns eating really fast while someone else attempts to distract Little O from the fact that he’s not doing something fun for him. If he’s awake, you’ve got virtually no chance of having a conversation because he takes the full attention of the person who is wrangling him. Fortunately in the last couple of weeks he’s been able to sit in a high chair and chew on a bread stick or play with one of his toys at least long enough for me to drink a cup of coffee without having to have him on my lap.
Even having friends around at home is very different from what it was like before. I remember cooking for hours and then having leisurely meals at the dinner table, playing board games and even having a glass or two of wine. This last weekend, N, who used to live with Mr O and I came to stay for the weekend. In the past N and I used to watch loads of trashy TV and giggle together for hours. This time we had to watch Hey Duggee because Little O is so noisy even when he is happy that you can’t possibly hear what you’re trying to watch… plus he won’t tolerate non-CBeebies viewing for long. We had to tag team the cooking and the eating and when it was time for Little O to go to bed I had to leave N and Mr O to go and feed him to sleep. Oh… and at 9pm Mr O and I were so tired, everyone had to go to bed.
Of course the option of going out sans baby exists but I still find it really hard. Recently Mr O and I have been making an effort to leave Little O with his parents and go on lunch dates. It’s been lovely to actually talk to each other, eat at the same time and be a couple without having to keep little hands out of our food, take turns jiggling Little O up and down or leave before he has a full tantrum. Of course we have to time things well around feeds and naps and we can never just lose track of time or be spontaneous like we used to.
I have only been out once in the evening, just before Christmas with a few of the mums from the baby group I take Little O to. I almost didn’t go because I was so worried he would wake up and want me and I wouldn’t be there. In the end I really had fun but I had to go home after an hour and a half because I didn’t want to miss too much sleep and I couldn’t quite bring myself to actually drink. (It was the right choice because that night Little O didn’t really sleep at all and I felt hungover in the morning anyway).
As time goes on I know leaving Little O will probably get easier and I will manage more social events at different times of the day. However I anticipate socialising with him in tow probably get more and more challenging up to a point where he’s old enough to “behave” and actually enjoys being out for more than half an hour.
This post probably comes across as a bit gloomy but it’s not meant to be. I miss socialising with friends but I love socialising with Little O, more and more. He has so much personality now and he makes me laugh so much. We’re our own little gang. I guess what I’m saying is if you’re not a parent yet, don’t take your freedom to spend time with your partner, friends or family unfettered for granted. Savour your food, have the glass of wine and lose track of time because there might well come a time when you won’t be able to without a lot of planning.