Friday 20 January 2012

To be or not to be… a social butterfly

Going out when you're a stay-at-home Mum is simplicity itself. Most of my social interactions involve drinking tea in churches or children's centres. On a Monday there is toast, on a Wednesday there is usually home baking and on Tuesdays and Fridays the lad gets fruit before we all sing songs. Playgroups and stay and play mornings provide activities for children while also giving Mums a chance to stand or sit around making small talk with other Mums / grandparents / aunties. Occasionally the church group I go to has a pamper morning and we get to come home with slightly smudged, but freshly painted nails. 

So imagine my unbridled joy this week at being able to have not just one, but two evenings out sans son or hubbie. I went to watch Michael Sheen as Hamlet - three and a half hours to myself with an interval ice cream and a leisurely walk in the crisp London night. Before you feel sorry for me, please understand that watching Hamlet is a solitary activity for me. I don't need to discuss the plot or the acting with anyone and I prefer to just settle in to the performance and take it all in. Not least as it's a long time to sit with someone if you think you may run out of small talk by half time. 

Tonight, however, was the sociable kind of night out with food, drink and chat. I saw friends I haven't seen in a few years, some of whom haven't met our new family member and they did politely ask to see photos. If you don't have children seeing photos of other people's can be at best boring and at worst wildly inappropriate. I've lost count of the number of people who have shown me photos of their children naked. It's completely uncalled for and makes me very uncomfortable. 

The other thing with meeting up with a group of diverse friends is that the level of noise is like going to my Mum's house. The volume increases as more people arrive at the venue and as my fellow diners imbibe more and more alcohol their volume (and speed of speech) increases exponentially too. Now bear in mind that most of my conversation during the day is slow, deliberate and repetitive. We had more than 20 rounds of Old Mcdonald had a farm in the car today as my boy likes to sing "ee aye ee aye oh." So being at a table of adults who are not comparing stories about teething, eating vegetables and choosing pre-schools is a welcome change. It is also, however, massively difficult as I am just not used to the scattergun chat as I try to teach my son to listen nicely and not to talk over people. It took a long time for me to slow down to a child's pace so really I should have eased myself back into the world of full on noisy adults. 

What is has also given me is an insight into the joy of being away from my family so that when I see them again I remember how much I totally love them. Even as I type the cat has wandered over to see me - he usually just asks for food - as he missed me while I was out. Absence does appear to make the heart grow fonder, even if it's only for a few hours. 

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