I want to make it clear at the start of this that I love my friends who are parents and that I so get how impossible a job it is to create, grow and raise a human being. I do. Honestly. I know you are massively sleep deprived, facing impossible societal expectations and just doing your best to get through the next three hours.
BUT this is a tiny little plea – from the viewpoint of someone who is trying to become a Sublime Spinster – on behalf of us Auntys.
Firstly, please note that we are here. We are doing our best to be supportive but also respect your important family time and schedules. We are getting educated so that we can be good friends and awesome Aunts. We are listening to you throughout your pregnancy issues, even trying to psychically guess the gaps in the story that you obviously have told to someone else. We are buying you and your about to be born baby lovely gifts.
Once the baby arrives, we are showing up, making appreciative noises and taking photos. We are politely continuing the conversation and never mentioning anything about your nipples as you breast feed. We are trying not to show how boring tales of feeding and nappy changes actually are when they don’t concern your own baby. We are doing our best to seem enthusiastic about pushing prams around the boring residential streets close to where you live and how close the best Ofsted rated schools are. We are listening to tales of poo-namis and trying not to look too reviled when your baby is sick down our shoulder and in our hand. We do our best to be patient as you take half of Mothercare with you for a one hour coffee at which you will talk in broken sentences and never ask anything about our lives. We will learn to ignore the number of times you cut us off or ignore us because you think the baby has made a noise. We get that other Mummies in your new social circles are awesome and ghastly in equal measure and we try to not be hurt when you spend more time with them than with us.
We get it – being a new Mummy is important and terrifying and we want to support you as best we can. We get that you still want to be yourself and that you are still a grown up with needs and yet you are also in a hormonal maelstrom that’s making you feel like you are a protective bear, on the cusp of insanity. We get that your child is the devil incarnate but also the most advanced, intelligent and precious angel ever to grace the earth. We get that you have no idea what you are doing a lot of the time but also that you are the greatest authority on your child in the universe, ever. We get that your loved ones are abandoning you and also suffocating you with their so-called assistance.
We are happy to go on trips to the park and will even allow your toddler to take our place on the swings. We will try and stop the horrible child from attacking your child and make loud comments about other bad parents. We will keep telling you that you are doing a great job and that it will get easier. We will try to reason with your toddler, even when they are having a screaming tantrum over literally nothing in the milk aisle of the supermarket. We will do our best to remember all of your different routines and parental preferences as your system is obviously the best one and it is just plain odd that other people don’t follow it and have their own ideas. We will try to always respect your parenting, even when it means you contradict us in front of your child. We will always remind your child of just how awesome you are.
But please try to remember that, like you, we are here and we are doing our best. We do have some knowledge, even though we’re not mothers, and when we share that through anecdotes it’s to try and demonstrate that we have information of value as opposed to being a comment on what you or other people do. We are also just trying to live our own lives and things that no longer seem quite as vital to you are still important to us. We still need to talk with you, our friends, even if you now have other priorities.
Look, we know that your family will and always should come first but it would be nice to not always feel like an after-thought. We hope that you realise that we are still worthy people, even though we have not had children of our own. We are happily, willingly, offering hours and hours of free childcare and therapy and we hope that we can be just a little part of your family in return. Please don’t forget us because, and I hate to tell you this, one day those adorable little people that you created will be adolescents and grown-ups and suddenly you will wonder what you used to do with yourself. You used to hang out with us. We hung on in there, we tried to be on the parental roller-coaster with you but all too often we get thrown off or lost at the end. We know that you won’t mean to do it but please, please just try to throw us a rope so that we can cling on for the journey with you. That way we can all drink a glass of wine when we get to the end.