By Marta of Baby Blues & Rock’N’Roll
People! Do you even see me? On the street, right next to you, shifting noiselessly along the curb, I am the not-so-young Young Mother pushing that stroller. The one without makeup and with hair that looks like some “force majeure” took over my life. The one wearing a mismatch of clothes stained with pumpkin and mashed banana, the one with the dazed facial expression, grey skin and black punches under my eyes.
Don’t you even look my way!? Don’t you see the stroller I push? Don’t you see that it’s reclined, covered to screen the sunlight away from the little man’s face? Do you have a heart, passer-by? Am I invisible? Do you spare a second to acknowledge my struggle while you whiff past me, laughing out loud into your smart phone as if I was just a hologram of something that should not walk the streets anyway? Or you, with your scooter, your super-farty pimped-up moped, which you decide to accelerate like a moron right when you are next to my dozing child, do you know what it means to have a baby?
Do you know how it feels to be in charge of the most basic bodily functions of an infant creature you so painfully love, to be ready to sacrifice all you have in the name of regular sleep? Do you appreciate the fact that if a child does not get her right amount of naps, the life of her caregiver (me!) becomes pure liquid hell? Have you ever experienced the feeling of sinking in quicksand while everyone around you just walked past, without a glance, some even giving you a little push for the heck of it? Because who cares? That panicked look on my face is hilarious, and I’m just some stranger anyway.
Have you ever been in such a place of solid misery that you were ready to drive for hours without the hint of a destination only to have your child sleep in the car seat and give your synapses a break from the shrieks? Did you ever serve as a human mattress for your toddler in the most awkward positions for hours at a time, every muscle aching, your spine cracking, anything better than him drilling your brain with his whines? Three hours on a rocking chair? Singing lullabies until you just want to turn to dust and vanish through the floorboards? Have you got any idea what it takes to master the art of putting your baby to sleep by ways of hypno-rocking “en plein air”?
Whether you do it in a pram, sling wrap, stroller or carrier, you need to move consistently and without interruption for dozens of minutes. You must choose the right part of town, sidewalks that don’t inflict too many bumps on your stride, places with trees so the birds will be chirping, but not with dogs ’cause you can’t afford them to bark.
Your eye must be on the lookout like a sailor’s studying the starry sky. Are there a bunch of loud kids in the distance ahead? Steer quickly into the side street. A wailing ambulance getting closer? Slide into the first empty shop and lip-sync to the vendor the words “Sorry! Nap!” while you hold the door hermetically shut. You spot someone you know coming your way? Do an emergency U-turn and flee. If it’s too late to avoid them, make a panicked face and explain with your hands that you cannot stop and talk; it will jeopardize your mental integrity.
Believe me, I understand. I may be a train-wreck, but I still remember (sort of) what life without kids feels like. I know that, to you, the concept of “nap” is mostly foreign, remote, abstract. Perhaps it’s something you do when you’re really sick, or you ate too much to move, or you need to disco later on so it’s good to charge your batteries before you go. To you a nap is not something vital (like breathing oxygen); it’s a luxury, a little slothful too, like a beach and a hammock on a palm tree. But to me, dear honking driver on the street, it’s a matter of relative sanity versus losing my shit for real.
So next time you’re out there going jolly about your childless business, before you talk-shout to your friend on your way to lunch, sneeze, slam your car’s door, whistle or ring your bicycle’s bell, would you be so kind as to make sure there is no feral, desperate-looking creature rocking a stroller at the corner of your vision? And if there is, would you be so generous as to pull out your last crumb of human empathy in the name of all that’s holy and please, very pretty please, Mind The Fucking Nap?
Writer by calling, filmmaker by choice, mama by surprise, Marta still dreams of becoming a rock star one day. Till then, you can find her at nap time drinking yesterday’s coffee and blogging at Baby Blues & Rock’N’Roll about the breathtaking marvels of being someone she never thought she would ever be. Her writing has appeared also on Elephant Journal, Bonbon Break and Role Reboot. Follow her on Facebook and Twitter and you will make her love you forever in a dirty way.