Recently, a friend invited me to his birthday dinner. The date fell on the husband’s weekly badminton night. Badminton nights are non-negotiable, and thus equal no childcare. Nevertheless, I optimistically agreed to go. With the short one in tow, after bedtime. After all, it worked in New York. (I might have also felt a tad guilty for not having gone to his birthday party in three years)
The day before, I looked into the logistics and discovered a slight flaw: the closest tube station had no lifts. Most of them don’t so this shouldn’t have come as a surprise, but it definitely ruled out going with the girl sleeping in her buggy. Four flights of stairs to street level, plus a winding staircase to the birthday boy’s restaurant table, are not conducive to traveling with wheels.
Now, trying to explain to a non-parent why some adventures may after all be impractical is like talking Chinese to a Mexican. Or using sign language with a blind person. My friend frankly didn’t see the dilemma. Surely someone would help me (yes – but it’s difficult to keep bubba asleep jolting a buggy up and down stairs during the rush hour commute). In any case, he couldn’t meet any earlier and another woman would be bringing her daughter too, so what exactly was the big deal?
I knew I was speaking Chinese because I have been on the other end of such conversations many a time. Pre-motherhood, naturally. Prior to seeing the error of my non-mummy ways, I used to be the one coming up with a million perfectly logical reasons why life shouldn’t be a problem just because you have produced offspring. Most memorably I talked my best childhood friend into driving 1,000 miles from Germany to Brittany for less than a week’s holiday. 14 hours in the car with a 4 year old. In the middle of winter. It was a fantastic trip and we had great fun, including an unplanned stopover in Paris and going up the Eiffel Tower at night. But practical with a small one it was not.
Now I admit becoming a parent doesn’t mean you need to overcomplicate everything. Thankfully, Lilly’s pretty flexible as long as her requirements for food and sleep are met. And this is mostly what I try to consider ahead of time. There’s a fine line between being the sensible parent and the adventurous night owl so I guess it’s all about balance, about picking your moments. You can’t be cautious all the time, but there’s no need to be reckless either. So should I occasionally appear inflexible about making plans, bear with me – I’m just trying to make sure everyone (including Lilly) has a good time.
In the end, we did go. Just long enough to have a drink, Lilly mostly asleep in her PJ’s in a sling. It worked, although it won’t necessarily be repeated.
Oh, and the other woman’s daughter? She turned out to be a teenager. But really, from a non-parent’s view, it’s all the same, isn’t it?