Meet the (other) parents – where are all the baby owners?
When it comes to meeting other parents, my hands are somewhat tied – and that’s partly why I started blogging in the first place.
Doing so has allowed me to connect with other parents that have been on, and are going through, the same journey.
Jenna knows countless mums and gets to mingle with them during her maternity leave, but my closest mates are yet to reproduce, while the other friends I know with children don’t live anywhere near.
A case in point is Jenna’s cousin Graham and his partner Megan (Gregan), who joined the parenthood a couple of weeks before us, also with a daughter, but they’re based a two-hour drive from us on the south coast.
Back in April, Graham and I conspired to surprise the girls with a get-together, which saw us meet at the Surrey-held Baby & Toddler Show, exactly an hour from both of us.
It felt good to see them, especially in such an appropriate setting, so now our daughters have arrived and we’ve (kind of) adjusted to life as parents, we thought it was time to meet again.
With Surrey the meeting point of choice once more, the original plan was to go for a picnic, since it’s summer and all that.
Of course it was pissing down, so the back-up was a pub lunch.
After a bit of research, we decided on The Barley Mow in Egham, part of The White Brasserie Company. It’s a small chain that doesn’t consist of mere boozers, but what it calls “pub brasseries,” due to its British-cum-French theme in both the décor and menu options.
Before we arrived though, Roma decided it was a good idea to launch a poozooka, which immediately made us leave the house later than intended. That coupled with traffic on the M25 made us a good hour late!
Punctuality, we’ve found, is truly difficult to maintain with a baby, but if any friends were to understand our lateness, it would be Gregan.
By comparison, our child-free friends would have probably have been polishing off dessert by the time we arrived, but they patiently waited for us to show before ordering.
Set adjacent to the green of Englefield Green, the pub was an ideal family-friendly environment. In fact, a christening party was taking place while we were there, assuring us we wouldn’t have been out of place if the girls decided to have a scream-off.
Before becoming a dad, the last newborn baby I held must have been my nephew and that was more than two years ago. It was like playing a game of musical statues – after my sister plonked him in my arms, I was worried to move, much like when I first held Roma.
So two months into fatherhood, I was intrigued to see how I’d feel holding baby Gregan and I was amazed at the confidence I felt.
By no means do I claim to be the baby equivalent of Doctor Dolittle, but having this short experience as a parent has already filled me with a calm reassurance that meant I didn’t feel panicked as I would have done previously.
A perfect example of that panic was exhibited by one friend who visited and admitted he didn’t want to hold Roma because she was too small, which made him nervous – totally understandable.
I suppose being able to talk to other parents about things is a bit like having a support system.
In the same way a single friend may quiz a pal in a relationship about love advice and how they found someone (reasonably) sane to settle down with, you’d probably look to a fellow parent for advice over someone that hasn’t ever changed a nappy.
After 50 days of fatherhood, I fired out 50 fast thoughts on my time in the role of dad.
Interestingly – without even bringing the post up – during a conversation with Graham he naturally mentioned some of the things he’d experienced, many of which I just so happened to have written about, assuring me that the path Jenna and I are walking isn’t too far off the beaten track.
Quality catch-up with @greyham85 and @megsd21 over the weekend (even though Roma’s poozooka and the M25 made us severely late, sorry guys!). Introduced the girls to each other and feasted on very tasty pub/brasserie grub since the rain ended the picnic plans – how was the weather better when we met in April?! 👪💬🍴#DADultLife #DadsWithDaughters
We’ve even got a similar pattern in place for night shifts, a result of us both being in full-time work while Jenna and Megan are on maternity leave.
For me, catching up with Gregan was a breath of fresh air. Seeing friends is always a pleasure, so seeing friends walking in our shoes was icing on the cake.
As I said, many of my friends are without kids, but that doesn’t mean there isn’t scope to make new ones with children.
If you’re like me and don’t know new parents, don’t be totally disheartened, we’re out there hiding in plain sight – there are lots on social media – just waiting to talk about feeds, feels, farts and firsts.