Pollyanne Peña recently moved to Christchurch from Wellington, she has a brand new baby, and she’s on the look out for new friends. In the first of a series in which she tests ways to find her mama coven, she goes to a speed dating event for mums.
Moving cities and having a baby are two surefire ways to isolate yourself. I miss having friends and I intend to leave the house without the baby one day. I’m trying a few new things so these dreams may one day become a reality for me.
So that’s why I am here, trying to get ready, so I can go out and speed date some mums.
“Could you take the baby please?” I scream as politely as I can down the hallway. “I’ve got to get ready, I’m going to wear make up!”
After a few moments silence I quietly congratulate myself for setting the baby up in the Jolly Jumper – cats-eye flicks with liquid liner need complete quiet and intense concentration, you see. I put the wand up to my eye and take a deep breath; it has been many, many months since I last applied make up to my face. I feel nervous and desperately want to make a good impression. I am totally excited about Mum Speed Dating!
The wand hovers hesitantly above my face as I look at the deep dark bags under my eyes that no concealer seems to cover. I take a deep breath to steel myself once more.
Just as I touch the tip of the wand to the corner of my eye the baby begins to wail.
With no one else about to comfort him, I put down my tools and go to check what has happened. My tiny boy has released a shit so big it exploded up his back and down his thighs. I sigh a big deep sigh and begin the process of cleaning him and the jolly jumper off. A great omen to start this auspicious day.
After the remnants of this small poonami are tidied away, I wash up, quickly finish my makeup, put on a bra for the first time in about a year and throw on a brand new pink dress. I’m only running 15 minutes late at this stage too, fantastic.
While I finish packing the baby bag, the baby starts howling again, this time a very hungry howl. I attempt to lift my dress and pull down my bra to give him a quick feed before we ago. Unfortunately this new dress is not in any way feeding friendly. Neither is this bra. I have to take them both off completely. I am 25 minutes late now, and instead of driving to the venue, I am sitting in the lounge in my baggy faded black knickers. Good. Great. Cool. I’ve totally got this under control.
After a mad dash across town, I check myself one final time in the rear-view mirror and realise I am only wearing one earring. Perhaps the other mums will think this is a charming, quirky, totally intentional, fashion statement? Perhaps not. I take the sole earring out and quickly chuck it in my purse.
I am much more nervous than I probably should be. Will I remember how to speak to others without a sing song voice? Will I be able to string together intelligent bits of adult conversation? Will I be able to refer to myself as someone other than Mama?
We are allowed five minutes with five different mums. We move one seat to the right when a little bell jingles. We are encouraged to talk about our journeys as mothers and to find things we have in common.
We sit on long trestle tables with beautiful ornate cups of tea and vases of flowers dotted everywhere. Tiered cake stands with macarons, chocolate cups, jammy scones and sandwiches that are just a wee bit too small are brought out for us. Currently breastfeeding, I am a hungry, hungry hippo so I quickly inhale my meagre share and wait patiently for the next tiered stand to come out. Gosh, it’s taking a while I say to the lady next to me. There’s not any more coming out she says back plainly. Oh lord, I’m totally going to have to do a Maccas run on the way home. The first bell rings, I move to my right. Below is a list of the five women I met:
Mum-Date #1 seemed more interested in selling me some sort of cleaning solution for my house than anything else. I am now on her email list. Perhaps I will find the perfect rag to wipe my tears off the bathroom vanity.
Mum-Date #2 had a very large age gap between her kids. Thirteen years, if I remember correctly. She was lucky, she said. When she and her husband want to go out, the big ones can babysit. Bloody canny if you ask me.
Mum-Date #3 is a woman who has absolutely no interest in talking to me at all. “I’m going to try and get my nails done at one of the pamper stations” she says, and promptly leaves the table.
Mum-Date #4 is a lovely woman who I absolutely cannot hear at all over all of the noise.
Mum-Date #5, my very last, is a woman with a seven week old. She looks beautiful and speaks softly and with confidence about her baby. I remember myself when my baby was seven weeks. Dishevelled and unkempt, smelling slightly urinous and looking slightly delirious. I aspire to be this woman if I ever have another baby.
Sadly, I don’t think I met anyone I am going to form any long lasting friendships with but still, there is a little bit of magic in sharing stories with others who are in exactly the same boat as me. Would I do it again? Probably not. But gosh, it was great to get out of the house for a few hours and eat a burger alone in the car on the way home.
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