A while back, I told you I was going on two dates…well, they finally happened. I didn’t write about them earlier because, to be honest, there wasn’t anything to write about. We kept postponing and postponing, and FINALLY both parties had a free time slot that coincided with mine.
I’ll tell you about the first one today.
My first ‘date’ was with the girl I met randomly ina cafe. Roz and I were in the Marks and Spencer cafe in Jervis shopping centre. Let me start off by saying I love this cafe. It has sinfully deep, comfy leather sofas and the yummiest fruit scones I’ve ever tasted. And believe me, I’ve had my fair share of yummy fruit scones! The staff are absolute gems and always come to my rescue when they see that
a) There’s no way I’m going to balance a tray with hot chocolate and a scone while wheeling a buggy to a seat. And
b) There’s even less chance that I’ll be able to pay for said goodies by balancing my handbag and purse with the tray and wheel the buggy!
They usually tell me to take a seat, bring the stuff to me, collect my money and bring back my change while I unpack baby and mummy from coats and get a comfy spot….ah, bless!
So late February, there I was as usual with my hot chocolate and scone, seated at the back of the cafe so I could breastfeed discreetly, when another yummy mummy (cough, cough) sat across from me with her baby. We started chatting, you know,
“Oooh, your baby is so cute! Boy or girl”
You know the usual stuff. Anyway, I found out her name was Anna and her baby (who wasn’t cute AT ALL when next to my little pumpkin (wink!)) was called Paula and was about three weeks younger than Roz.
She’s Lithuanian (bummer! – another foreigner!) and will be leaving Dublin next year (double bummer!) and get this, she’s a martial arts expert! And boy, could I tell. Her body was just perfect. The muscles on her arms made me clutch my sweater and laugh self consciously as I ran a hand over my still not-quite-firm tummy. (Boy am I starting back in the gym soon or what.)
She was breastfeeding too and lived around my area so I told her about the breast feeding support group I frequent and said she should pop in some time as it was great for getting out of the house and at least you get to meet other mums and share information and experiences.
The group is every Friday in our local health centre and to my delight, she showed up at the next one. It was actually possible I might have made a friend. I was quite excited.
Anyhoo, another mum and I started talking about baby slings and I was regaling her with my misadventures of the baby carrier we have and how, during my pregnancy, I had pleasant daydreams of vacuuming, reading and writing with my lovely baby sleeping on my chest in a sling, while the reality involved my having to run home one day from the local convenience store with a howling baby strapped to my chest, and how the next baby carrier had scarred us both for life when she nearly screamed the apartment block down the instant I tried to put her in it.
At this point, Anna said,
“I have a brand new baby sling I don’t use. Would you like to borrow it for a few weeks and see if Roz likes it? Paula hated it!”
I’m not one to look a gift horse in the mouth so I said of course I’d like to try it out before I waste a small fortune trying out different brands of slings and wraps and carriers. Imagine my surprise when Anna said,
“I’m walking home after this so if you want to come and get it, we can have a cup of coffee too?”
I’m not a great believer in people offering friendships, as I’ve mentioned before, so I was thinking, wow, she really is serious about wanting to be my friend? Wow!
After class, we pushed our buggies a
harrowing mere twenty minutes (with me struggling not to hyperventilate) to her apartment. She lives in an area of Dublin so close to the city centre you could probably walk there. And only five minutes’ walk from phoenix park. I was so jealous. But of course, with such proximity comes one major drawback. You couldn’t swing a cat in that apartment if you tried. They had to ask their landlord to remove all the sofas just so they would have a place to park the buggy.
She told me they didn’t know what they’d do once Paula’s big enough to crawl. They had one whole wall covered in shelves, all stocked with martial arts training DVDs, martial arts instruction books, training equipment, the works, and will have to put everything in boxes soon.
I had actually thought Anna was exaggerating a bit about the martial arts when I first met her. Turns out when she was pregnant, she continued training all the way to her ninth month and had to pull out of a kick-boxing competition scheduled for her second trimester, just in case the baby got hurt. Yeah, my going to the gym up to my fifteenth week all of a sudden didn’t feel like such a great achievement.
Regardless, we got on well. We talked about all the things fellow immigrants talk about in Ireland. The crap weather, the falling rent prices, and the lack of Irish friends…it was getting tedious. It felt as though I’ve had the exact same conversation with every foreign person I’ve met here. And there were far too many silent moments filled with
‘Mmmmm, this tea is lovely.’ And
‘Would you like another cookie?’
To make me feel this was actually going anywhere.
So I got to thinking maybe I’m the one with the problem here. Maybe I should just stick to making male friends the way I always have and be done with. But that’s ridiculous. I can’t talk to them about some of the experiences that only women can go through and compare notes after having a baby. I mean, I love my friend PJ to death but I think he’d run screaming from the room if I started talking about the technical elements of being induced.
So I stuck to my guns. We had coffee, then tea, then juice. And Roz and Paula slept through the whole two hours. Which is a miracle in itself as Roz rarely if ever naps for more than thirty minutes. I took it as a sign. Maybe this friendship was meant to be?
I veered tack and asked Anna what she used to do in Lithuania and how she’s coped with maternity leave so far. She is a fascinating woman I’ll tell you that. Not only am I intrigued by her fantastic training regime, she has a really good heart. She walked me all the way to the bus stop, which was a fair bit away, made sure I got on the bus, and said she’d see me again at the next breastfeeding group. Then she said the words I didn’t think I’d ever hear from someone again.
‘Maybe we can go for coffee another time, if you’d like?’
Well, you could’ve blown me down with a feather! I kept my cool and said of course I’d like that very much.
I’m still waiting on the text message to come through though and it’s been three weeks now….ah well.
**Anna and Paula are, of course, not their real names.