We’ve been going to a little local playgroup for a while now. It’s pretty unstructured, lots of bikes and play equipment, crafts and puzzles, different toys and different faces. Jman enjoys it, and it gives us that “getting out of house” momentum on a Thursday, that we need sometimes to give the days some rhythm.
Whether we make it in future, I’m not sure.
Today is the last day of maternity leave. I can’t believe it. I’m simultaneously dreading it like the end of the world and oh-my-god-how-broke-can -we-get-how-long-til-I-get-paid-if-I-sing-another-nursery-rhyme-my-head-will-explode looked forward to it since jman was about four months old.
So, playgroup runs from 9:30 until 11am. We usually do a bit of craft for 25 seconds, we open and shut the kitchen a lot, we push doll strollers around and drop the dollies on their heads, we go to the sandpit and attempt to get sand into every single crevice, we try to ignore mums healthy snack and eat 16,000 biscuits, mum has a tea, we play more, we leave. The only structure of the whole session is one of the church ladies who runs it blows bubbles out on the lawn, and that means it’s time to go.
Now I don’t wanna be all judgy judgy. I don’t wanna start a mum war, but I’ve noticed something.
Some mothers stand around quietly chatting the whole time. They nurse cups of tea, they feel awkward, they half hover like they want to be involved more, or pretend hover like they’d prefer to just wander off without their child but know they’re here to supervise. They make polite small talk. For all the world it feels like wallflower discussions from the teenage discos of my youth.
But then comes packing up time.
And their eyes light up.
Imposing order, I can do that.
They grab the tubs of cars and dolls with a ferocity I’ve only witnessed in a butchery. They lug the tubs away from the small people who just wanted five more minutes with that doll. They slap their hands together with zeal as they reappear from the storeroom for their second load.
All these messy toys. All this disorder. We can make this better.
They scare me.
So much so, for months I didn’t want to get in the way of the system of packing up, I just kept jman and myself clear and didn’t help. I thought they’d eat me alive if I contributed to the disorder.
I want to jump and shout and say your kid was just making scrambled eggs in the kitchen. But you didn’t pretend eat it.
And your kid looked amazing covered head to toe in glitter and did you see how much glue he can eat?
And your kid, he was really sweet with the doll just then, did you see him?
I noticed after starting family daycare I didn’t feel the need to hover as closely this week, and I’m glad of that shift. Mostly.
But I did eat jman’s pretend pasta.
And I did get showered in sand in the sandpit.
And I did help him when he got on the bike backwards for the fifteenth time.
And I did help him with the railway track and put a bridge in it with trees.
And I did let him eat three (maybe four) biscuits instead of my cheese, avocado and cucumber snack.
And I like watching him play, and being down on his level while he does it, and participating in it when invited to.
I hope I never become a packing up time mum, with dull eyes that only light up when order is imposed. I hope I’m always down on the floor covered in stickers and biscuit crumbs.