Emily and I are playing on her bedroom floor.
Michael has gone for a swim.
She is supposed to be asleep.
Yeah, right, like that is ever going to happen.
Actually, we are looking for her dummy.
I am so desperate to find it; I am considering taking a picture of her room, and putting it up on Facebook for my friends to have a look on my behalf.
I sware to God I have crawled over every inch of her carpet in search of the magic sleep cue.
She spat it out forty-five minutes ago, and I have not seen it since.
I wonder if any of the neighbours are home…
I consider this for moment, before deciding our house is far too messy to let anyone else inside.
There are toys scattered everywhere. As in, it is a mind field of plastic shapes, stuffed animals, and wooden parts.
This is not the first time we have been on the great dummy hunt this morning.
Last time when I asked her to find it, she practically took me straight to it, via the blocks, a puzzle, and dragon.
Whereas this time when I asked her where it went, she has chosen to ignore me.
I know she understands, because when I ask her the question she looks up in acknowledgment, but promptly goes back to her game.
She is so tired, but I know she will not go down without it.
When did we have that bottle?
Surely, she cannot be hungry, I think as I do another round of her room.
I sweep my hands back and forth in the hope that it will miraculously appear beneath my fingers.
I find a rattle, her bottle, stacking cups, an assortment of other toys, an odd sock, but no dummy.
Goodness gracious, where could it be?
Doo-doo-dee-doo-doo. My phone buzzes on top of the bookshelf.
It is my husband.
Honey, do you want to go to the library with Ronya’s mummy, he asks from the other end of the line.
I hesitate for a second, thinking that Little really needs a sleep. However, on the other hand, I am not sure I feel like spending the entire afternoon home alone with a grumpy baby girl.
The library would make a great distraction.
Ummm, ok, I say a little uncertainly as I calculate how to get us there.
I wonder if I should take the pram, or simply put her on my hip.
She gets heavy really quickly on the hippy thing, but I so cannot be assed putting her in the proper carrier today.
I could take her in the pram, I think as I run through my options. After all, Emma, my orientation and mobility instructor and I did that exact walk last week.
Michael interrupts my inner monologue by asking how I intend to reach our destination.
However, before I can answer, I can already tell by the tone in his voice, he would prefer I put Little in the carrier.
Take her on your hip, he says in the next instant.
I think about suggesting the pram alternative, because it would be easier, but the words do not leave my mouth.
I love you darling, I say instead as we sign off.
I pick Emily up, put her in her cot, and hurry to the shower.
I could simply shut the gate, and leave Emily on the floor, but she gets so distressed when I leave the room.
And who knows, if I put her in her cot, maybe just maybe she will fall asleep while I bathe. Then we could go to the library later instead, I muse hopefully.
Yep, I am still in my pyjamas, and it is almost midday.
I was planning on a quick yoga session, and to wash my hair while she had her morning nap, but ummm, yeah, well, here we are.
I will be back in a couple of minute’s sweetie, I say as I head out the door.
Do you want to play with Ronya, I ask her as I head toward my room.
I can hear her crying as I step under the water.
I will only be a moment, I think as I quickly scrub my body.
Doo-doo-dee-doo-doo. My phone buzzes again, this time from the edge of the basin.
It is my husband.
Seyran will come and get you, he says confidently. I can tell he is happy with this arrangement.
Oh, ok, in that case I will take the pram, I answer.
Yes, yes, that’s fine, if she is with you, he answers.
What he does not know, is that I had decided I was going to take the pram regardless.
After all, I have got this.
Saran lives in the opposite direction than we do from the library. So coming to get us is out of her way. However, I know she likes the walk, because like me, she is not getting enough exercise at the moment.
Therefore, I do not mind her making the extra effort, because it benefits us both.
Come on honey, I say as I pick baby girl up from her cot, let us get you dressed.
I rummage through her wardrobe looking for something for her to wear.
I cannot find the particular dress I am looking for.
Come to think of it, I cannot find many of her clothes at the moment.
I wonder where they all are.
Where is the dress with the clippie uppy bottom that Colleen gave her?
Where is the pink flower thing from Katie Lee?
Where is the gingham top?
Where are the red bottoms?
However, I do not have time to go searching for any of the options I want right now.
Emily is busily throwing blocks into the bottom of her wardrobe, and time is a ticking.
I grab the white dress with the puffed sleeves and the Peter Pan collar.
We pitter-patter downstairs, where I put baby girl on the potty, give her a fresh nappy, and pull the dress over her head.
I am trying to encourage her to use the potty as often as possible, especially because she is interested again.
So far we have had two wees on it this morning.
Could we actually be gaining ground with this, I wonder as she slides her little bottom off, and cheekily crawls away.
I stick my index finger in the bowl to see if there is any liquid.
Good work baby girl, I say cheerfully as I begin to clean up.
What good weeing in the potty, I continue with all the enthusiasm I can muster.
I clap my hands, so she knows whatever it is she has done is a good thing.
Daddy says when we clap, she smiles. Therefore, it is a good tool for reinforcing positive behaviour.
I leave the potty balanced precariously on the laundry tub, so that when Michael gets home, he will know we have used it, and give it a good scrub.
Hello boy job.
I wrestle her into a fresh nappy, and we do the pants dance.
One leg in, one leg out, the other leg in, the other leg out, a bit of a protest, but eventually by what can only be assumed is divine intervention, I am able to pull them up over her waste.
Then it occurs to me I really ought to give her some food.
Seyran, Ronya’s mummy normally has something with her for the girls; nevertheless, I do not want to take my chances.
However now with the white dress, what can I give her, which will not make a mess, I wonder as I mentally tick off our options.
I should have given her something before I put her clothes on. I mentally chastise, as I go for the easy way out, and hand her a teething biscuit.
I feel terrible for not giving her something more substantial, but we do not have time for the rigmarole of a long lunch.
Well we do, because I am sure Seyran would understand, given she is always more well stocked and organised than I am, but I plough on anyway.
I rush from one thing to another, trying not to step on any of the toys, books, and bits and pieces.
I am in the middle of the toy transition, and absolutely everything we own is strewn across the floor.
Normally at least half of it is in a box tucked away in the linen press, but oh God, not today.
What have I started?
However, there is no time to worry about that now.
Emily plays in front of the gate beside the stairs, so I unlatch the pram, and take it through the backdoor and around the house to the front, rather than risk trying to lift it over her head.
It is not the lightest thing in the world, but the one handed folding mechanism is worth the extra weight.
I place her nappy bag under the stroller, filled with the usual things. Along with what I assume is the rain cover, but do not bother to check.
I consider taking my handbag, but then decide that would only make me look like a rooky mummy, so I toss my purse, keys, and water bottle in the trey as well.
Ronya’s mummy does not know how excited I am.
She does not know this is my first time pushing the pram as the other mamas do.
Well I mean I have done it with Katie Lee, but that is different.
For a start, that is somewhere far less busy than our local area, and it is Katie.
Katie totally gets me, whereas Seyran and I barely know each other.
She does not know about the designer yoga pants wearing mummies of my imagination.
I will have to play it cool, I think as I go back into the kitchen to peel carrots.
Carrots are not messy, I think, as I throw them into a container, and then into the nappy bag.
I am paranoid I will run out of food for Emily whenever we go out. Therefore I take what I think is a copious amount just in case.
However lately my just in case provisions have not been enough.
I am mixing a bottle, and trying to shield it from Little when we hear a knock knock knock at the gate, followed by the familiar hello from Seyran.
Ronya squeals with delight as they step into our courtyard.
It always surprises me to hear her, as she is such an unassuming little thing.
The formula tin is dangerously low, and this makes me anxious. I know we do not have another, and it pisses me off that it is not on special this week.
We hate buying formula at full price, and always try to stock up, but lately Michael has become complacent, and is doing the one tin at a time thing.
I know my need to hoard food comes from such a primitive mindset of poverty consciousness, but I cannot help it.
I try to tell myself that an abundant person would not be worried about where the next meal is coming from, therefore as an abundant person I should not worry. But I do. Oh how I do. And it is ten times worse when it comes to Little.
I have lost weight lately. Partly because I forget to eat, and partly because I share my pickings with her.
It never would occur to me not to.
It is almost as though if I know she is fed, then I am not hungry for myself.
What a strange thing motherhood is.
Before I had Little, I thought having children was like taking care of other people, but it is so much more than that.
I am so happy to take care of her needs first, and forego many of mine.
It is fun to see her satisfied.
Good God, I can go for days without thinking of myself.
Is that normal?
Come on in, I say as I quietly shake the formula. We will only be a sec.
However, she does not enter, but politely waits outside.
I wonder what she thinks about the corridor of scattered toys she can see.
I bet her house is immaculate I think to myself as I scoop up the cutie cute cute cute, slide into my thongs, and close the door behind me.
Shall I walk in front, she asks as we put the girls into their respective prams.
Yes, that would be wonderful I reply, wondering just how much Michael has told her.
She and I still have not had a conversation regarding my vision. It is almost as though we are each too embarrassed to bring it up, while simultaneously knowing it is a non-issue, so what is the point.
Our daughters are a week apart in age, and our birth stories are uncannily similar. Even down to each of us having the same doctor in the same hospital.
Our friendship is built upon motherhood first, and everything else second.
Ronya’s mummy is on the tail end of her PhD. This serves to remind me of my own doctoral ambitions that I have worked hard to swallow down since I stopped studying a few years back.
I miss the rigour of university life.
I miss having to stretch my mind in order to keep up with the intersects around me.
I miss the obscure subject matter and the links therein.
I miss the formulaicness of the writing.
I miss the poetic license, and the adding to the endless lexicon of wanker words, which can only be found in a world full of specialists in their chosen fields.
I miss the passion and the genuine interest people display for their disciplines.
I miss the copious amount of reading.
And I miss the money. Oh how I miss the money.
I know it can be a terrible and toxic environment, filled with eccentricities, but it is where I am most myself.
It is where I do not have to apologise for my intelligence, or my interests.
As I said, I like not being the smartest person in the room.
Oh, that sounds so arrogant, doesn’t it?
Ronya and Emily are always so pleased to see one another.
However because baby girl is so so so tired today, she is not as chatty and animated as usual.
Not that it matters, because Ronya is doing most of the squealing and chatting for the time being.
I tune into the sound of Ronya’s mummy’s footsteps, and off we go.
The biggest problem I am having as we walk is I cannot tell how far my pram sticks out in front of me, and how far we are away from clipping the back of Ronya’s mummy’s knees.
This is not very social I think, as I trot along behind her like a baby duckling following its mummy duck.
I guess it does not really matter, because the path is not wide enough for the two of us to walk side by side anyway.
Across the road, passed the crappy café, along the path, over the zebra crossing, watch out for the pole, bumpity bump bump over the tactile way finding markers as we pass a drive way, up the hill, turn the corner, be mindful of the skinny space, listen and look for cars, over another zebra crossing, stop at the traffic lights, and another set of tactile markers, cross another road, up the ramp, in the double set of sliding doors, weave through the aisles, and park the pram.
How I did not run into anyone or anything, I will never know.
Emily and I are awesome!
Would you like to come out of the pram, I ask baby girl as I unbuckle her straps.
She leans forward, and practically tumbles out with excitement, or exhaustion. I am not sure which.
To be honest, I am surprised she did not fall asleep on our way here.
I shadow Seyran around the bookshelf, and into the wide-open space of the toddler’s area.
I cannot help but notice there is a big square lounge chair over the approximate place where the unprotected vomit was last time.
I wonder if anyone actually cleaned that up, or whether this is the solution.
However, I am sure not moving that thing to find out.
Hmmm, I think, as I almost trip over the Lime green piece of furniture.
It is quite a contrast against the dull greys, blues, and dark red of the shabby carpet tiles. Therefore, you would think I would miss it, yet still I manage to almost stack it.
We find a spot near the solitary toddler height shelf full of board books, and sit down.
Immediately Emily is up and about, pulling books out of their place.
She looks at me with a cheeky grin, as though to say, aren’t you going to stop me?
Oh, that is good pulling books off the shelf, I say in response. Because I know if I give any indication that I disapprove, not that I do, it will become a game.
I am fairly certain these particular shelves were facing a different way last time we were here but as usual, I second-guess myself.
Do not tell me they move stuff around in the library as well, I think as I listen for how many people are around us.
Ok, so there are a couple of ladies talking quietly behind us, three kids in the far corner, another mama and a baby to our left, somebody typing on a keyboard to my right, and two girls whispering happily just in front of us. I think they are sitting on a shelf, because they sound higher.
Other people are further afield, doing whatever people do in libraries.
I am surprised the place is so busy.
Funnily enough, the only thing I cannot hear, are the pages of a book being turned.
Seyran plucks a book off the shelf, and starts reading it to the girls.
However less than a page in, and they each crawl away, each in separate directions.
I curse myself for once again not remembering to bring her bells.
Now how will I know exactly where she is?
Seyran is the kind of mummy who takes care of baby girl as if she were her own.
This makes it easy, because I know if I miss something, she will be all over it.
Emily finds an empty shelf, and starts using it as a tunnel.
Tunnels are her new thing.
Baby girl tends to stay close to me, rather than explore the room like her friend.
I am not sure if this is because she knows I will not be able to see her, or if it is because Ronya does not have as much space at home as we do, so she makes the most of it.
Suddenly Seyran hands me a plastic bag filled with clothes.
I went a bit overboard shopping online one night, and Ronya really cannot wear all these, she says, gesturing to the bag. Five pairs of tights, she continues. What was I thinking?
We laugh knowingly.
I mean who hasn’t done that, right.
I marvel at her generosity as we go through the items of clothing one by one. Her providing commentary behind each peace, as she tells me about her concerns for her princess.
Then at the bottom of the bag, there is a beautiful invitation to Ronya’s first birthday party.
I had thought we would simply skip Emily’s, as how would she know. But now I am getting really excited about it.
I wonder what we will do.
Oh my Gosh, I exclaim, when is it?
As she gives me the date, and all the relevant details, my brain starts to tick over the possibilities for Little.
Ronya is across the room trying to make friends with some bigger kids, but they are ignoring her.
I would know that squeak squeak anywhere.
She is such a cutie.
I watch baby girl try to climb a beanbag nearby, which is hilarious. Her little legs go go go, but the beans move move move, therefore she remains stationery
Confusion is written all over her face.
Seyran tells me that Ronya is calling us from across the way, but Emily does not respond.
This is how it goes for a while.
Sometimes it is so hard not to know when other people’s babies are trying to get my attention.
I have one of our braille touch and feel books, courtesy of my friend April’s company in my bag, just in case sweetie pie wants me to read something to her.
I wonder if it is worth asking the librarians if they can get something in specifically for us, but I quickly decide it is not a conversation I feel like having, so I will leave it.
Having her book brailed has been so empowering for me, that to be surrounded by books I cannot read is almost eerie.
I am not outraged by the exclusion, or even mildly offended. Rather it makes me feel vulnerable and exposed. As though the softest and weakest part of me is on display for the world to see. This is ridiculous, because nobody here looks like they can read my thoughts, and besides, I walked in without a cane.
I totally kicked it like an able-bodied mummy. Apart from the extra concentrated look on my face, the running commentary from Seyran, and my fumbling about, nobody would ever know the difference.
Would you like some lunch, I hear Ronya’s mummy ask my daughter as she crosses the room.
I love that. Not only does Ronya’s mummy know it is ok to offer baby girl something without asking my permission every single time, which means we are gaining ground, but there is also the unspoken understanding that the kids come first, so we do not have to sit and gossip. We can sit in companionable silence, or spontaneously wander off without feeling as if we have to explain ourselves or ask permission.
However, she always enquires if there is anything she can do if she sees me rise and head toward the pram, which is nice. Not only does it let me know where she is, if we have been separated, but also I know she means it. Therefore, if I am concerned about leaving sweetie pie pink pants over there, she will either keep an eye on her, or go get whatever baby related item I was looking for.
Do you think we should, I question in response.
I guess the worst thing they can do is throw us out, I continue as she moves to a quiet corner, and unfolds a beautiful patchwork quilt for the girls to sit on.
Emily. Emily. Seyran begins to call. Come here and have something to eat, she says in her beautifully accented tones.
However, Emily is busy looking at the other children.
Emily. Emily, she continues until baby girl turns around.
Then it clicks food! And Little is off like a rocket. Those hands up high, and those little knees pumping hard.
The carpet is tough and spikey.
I worry about how it must feel under her soft skin.
I notice sometimes she bear crawls, while at others she does not.
However, I am not sure if this is because of the dress, which in hindsight may not have been the best idea, but it is so cute, or because of the industrial flooring, friction beneath her beautiful tiny kneecaps.
Of course, I considered putting something more practical on her, but I love having a girl.
I love putting her in pretty dresses.
And I love how people comment her on how adorable she looks.
However it is more than that; as I have said in previous posts, having her look well-groomed reflects on me as a mama with a disability, and shows the world how together I am, and how well we look after a certain cutie cute cute cute.
Yep, I cannot believe it either; I am still looking for that external validation.
Sorry sweetheart, hopefully I will grow out of it before my insecurities damage you.
Emily almost makes it to Ronya, and the Promised Land, but not three more steps from where they sit, being fed delicious yummy chicken something, she stops.
What are you doing baby girl, I ask her as I crawl toward her.
I spend a lot of time doing that these days. It just makes sense to stay low to the ground, rather than get up get down get up again.
Then I hear a little giggle. However, it is not from Emily, but from one of the girls sitting on the shelf.
Emily has stopped, and is inspecting the girl’s blue sparkly sandal very closely.
The only reason I know this is that Seyran discretely tells me what is going on by framing it in such a way that makes it sound like she is talking directly to baby girl.
Somehow, she senses what I need, and I love that.
Not once has she ever used that patronising tone, even though I am sure she is curious.
I can see she and I are becoming more adept at this dance, and this fills me with happiness. Because ultimately that is what I want, to be one of the gals.
I reach Little, and give her a quick once over with my hands, just to make sure everything is ok.
I do it so unconsciously, that neither of us really realise my actions, but take them as par for the course.
Little, what are you doing, I ask her again.
The little girl giggles in response.
I look up, but am paranoid about not being able to make eye contact.
I am really sorry, I say, and begin to redirect baby girl to the quilt.
Oh, it is ok, she replies in a soft voice. We love babies.
Therefore, I allow Emily to continue with her shoe inspection.
The next instant, sweetie pie is climbing up the bookshelves between the girls.
Oh goodness, I exclaim, as I try to redirect her attention.
It is ok, the older girl says, we don’t mind.
Emily has each of their hands in hers, and is leveraging the afore mentioned blue sparkly sandal to bolster her weight.
My daughter is such a monkey legs.
I help her up, and she wriggles and wiggles between the girls.
Pulling ones hair, picking the others nose, crawling over them both.
She never stops moving.
They quietly coo to her, and seem to be having a good time, so although I hover close, ready to catch her if she falls; I allow the interaction to unfold.
After all, it is good for all of them.
Eventually Emily turns to me, and practically jumps into my arms. I put her down on the quilt with Ronya just in time to receive the last spoon of delicious yummy chicken something, and a slice of cheese.
I do not notice, but the two girls wander off. It is only when they reappear on their knees next to me, do I realise their absence.
Can we play with her some more, the older girl asks.
Of course, you can, I reply, as Emily climbs on to the younger one’s lap.
Her name is Emily, I volunteer. However, I do not ask for theirs. It does not seem quite right.
Ronya is full and happy, and wanders off across the room, her mummy trailing behind her.
I can see baby girl is beyond tired, and I toy with the idea of giving her a bottle.
Maybe I should let the kids do it, I think to myself. They might like that. But would it be too presumptuous? Should I be allowing Little to be fed by strangers? What if that is abusing her…? I continue to wonder.
However with each second, I can see the affinity between them, and I am fairly certain the older girls would love it.
Can you mind Little for a second while I get her bottle, I ask
Yes yes, they chorus with pride and confidence.
I bet they did not expect this when they entered the library today, I think as I rise to fetch her milk.
It will give them a nice thing to talk about over dinner tonight, I decide as I hurry back to where they are.
Would you two like to give it to her, I enquire, knowing full well what their answer will be.
Their excited intakes of breath, and looks on their faces says it all.
Oh yes, me me, says the younger one.
Ok, well here, you go, I say, positioning baby girl across her lap, and adjusting her head to fit in the crook of the girl’s tiny arm.
Then I hand the older sister the bottle, I position the air bubble whole to the sky, and guide it to Emily’s mouth.
I know she will fall asleep, and I hope the girls will not mind.
Sure enough within three sips, Emily’s eyes are closed, her breath deepens, and she is practically passed out.
We love babies, the older one reiterates, making conversation as she diligently holds baby girl’s bottle, while Emily gently pulls on the little sister’s hair, holds her chin, squeezes her nose, and explores her lips, the way she does when she is happy and content with her feeding.
I am sorry she is pulling your hair again, I say as I try to guide her hand back down on to her belly.
Oh, it is ok, the little one says with a smile in her voice. She’s so peaceful, she adds.
I know, I reply, she is beautiful, I say, more to myself than the children.
Are you comfortable, I ask the little one holding Emily.
Yes, she answers, although it is obvious she is not.
How about we sit up on that chair over there, where you can get really comfortable, and nurse my baby while she is asleep, I suggest, gesturing to the big lounge by the window.
I have barely taken my sleepyhead daughter out of her arms, and she is up on the couch, gesturing with her hands to hold sweetie pie again.
I gently pop her down, stick her dummy in her mouth, and settle next to them.
It smells like rain outside, I think as I look for Ronya’s mummy.
I can hear Ronya beginning to grizzle in the background, so they must be close.
Oh my goodness, Seyran gasps in surprise when she sees Emily fast asleep with the two girls cuddling her on the cushions. How did you do that, she asks.
Oh, she was so tired, I say, dismissing it as though it is normal.
Baby girl is pretty good at falling asleep almost anywhere, and especially in the arms of someone she feels loved by, and safe with. However even I have to admit, although I am not surprised, it is pretty cool.
I give the girls a couple of minutes before I look up, and ask Seyran if we should go.
I am just feeding Ronya she replies from somewhere to my left.
Oh, I miss that, I think as I turn back to my daughter.
Ronya loves her breast milk, and has been exclusively fed that way from the beginning.
It makes me wonder did I do the wrong thing by beginning to mix feed at five and a half months.
I know it was the reccamendations of the midwives at the time, but was that the beginning of the end.
It has been months since Emily has taken anything from me, but still my boobs ache in that particular way when she cries. Or when she messes with my head, and pretends to feed.
At the moment, she is fascinated with seeing just how far my nipple will come away from my chest.
I feel as though I have failed her by not somehow keeping my milk supply up through the duration of her weeks long strike. I understand I tried everything, but was there something else I could have done.
The pump did not work when I was feeding her, so I did not try it when I was not.
However now I wish I had.
I Googled it to see if I could restart, but most of the mama articles I read implied it was a dubious practice. Therefore, I have not tried.
I only wish. And want. And wait…
God I miss that special connection.
I am going to take baby girl home now, I say to the girls sympathetically.
Ok, they say, relinquishing their positions.
I scoop Little up, and rock her in my arms before heading across the room to put her in the pram.
As I buckle her in she tries to roll over, which tells me she is really really asleep.
Lowering the contraption into its laying down position seems to settle her, and not even the sharp loud click of the buckles disturbs my sleeping beauty.
As my pram is parked in front of Ronya’s I back out and head down the aisle first.
Watch the lady, Ronya’s mummy says, as I near the t-intersection.
Those librarians are slippery stealthy creatures, I think as I pass a ghost of a woman filing books.
They are so quiet.
I had no idea she was there, and I am pretty good at picking up on people’s presence, I think as I turn the corner.
Seyran sees her opening, and rushes passed to get in front.
Yes, yes, this is easier, I think as once again I tune into her steps, we exit through the double sliding doors, and out into the bright white day.
I need to go to the supermarket, I say as we head back down the ramp.
Oh, ok, so do I, she responds.
Again little does she know, this is all part of living the mama dream.
I have never taken baby girl to the supermarket in the pram by myself before, and I have never bought a tin of formula.
These things have always been Michael’s domain.
Part of me wonders if I am crossing an imaginary line, but I am having too much fun.
I consider calling him, and asking him what else, we need, but he will either come and meet us, or tell me not to worry.
The thing is, I want to worry, and I want to walk home alone just like any other mummy.
Beep beep beep beep beep, we are at the traffic lights again, and it is time for us to cross.
I almost run into a little old lady, but lucky Seyran somehow manoeuvres herself in-between us, and makes it look seamless.
I know it is a risk, but as we cross the road, and I struggle to get up the curb, the path widens, so I race to keep up.
We walk side by side for a few metres, blocking the entire way.
I know it isn’t very considerate of me, and I keep an ear out in all directions, in case someone wants to pass, however again it is all part of the mama dream; to walk beside another mama with our prams just like they do in my imagination.
Bumpity bump bump, beep beep beep beep, and we are at another set of traffic lights.
Again, I follow her across the road like an obedient duckling, worried I might not make it before the beep sound changes.
This time as I hurry to push my pram up the curb, putting my right foot on the back cross bar to lever the front wheels off the ground I am so busy concentrating on what I am doing, and how I need to turn left in a second, I not only run into a pole, but almost another person.
It all happens so quickly Ronya’s Seyran does not notice. Which is just as well, because it is a little off putting, and I do not need anyone to make a bigger deal of it than the minor setback it is.
I try not to giggle at myself as I back the pram up, and readjust our course.
I am so proud and happy as we turn right and entre into the small shopping mall.
The floor is marble smooth under my pram wheels, which makes the feedback less high maintenance. Thereby freeing some of my cognitive load up for other important things such as look how awesome, I am pushing the pram by myself! I am so clever.
We cause a traffic jam at the supermarket entrance as Seyran gets a basket.
Sorry, I say to the father with three toddlers behind me, I am new at this
He laughs, and we move on.
A basket, I think, as I watch Seyran hook those uncomfortable square handles over her arm, and push the pram with her other hand.
I never would have thought of procuring one of those.
A basket is too much for my brain to handle.
Being inside the actual supermarket with all its obstacles is enough for me to comprehend. Therefore, I forego the extra hassle of a basket.
I had not actually thought about what I was going to do with my lone tin of formula while we were in the shop, I had only gotten as far as I need one.
What do you need, she asks as we head toward the fruit and vegetables.
Just formula I say, as I run into a display of avocados.
This time I cannot help but laugh aloud.
I am such a shit pram driver.
Seyran is busily negotiating a bunch of bananas, and once again does not notice my mistake. Or if she does, she does not say anything.
I cracked her up earlier in the day when I accidentally picked up Ronya instead of Emily.
Even though they were wearing completely different colours, and they could not be more similar in appearance if they tried.
In my defence, I had only taken note of the little crawly body in the space where I thought Emily was, and not where she actually had moved.
Ronya and baby girl had swapped places in my absence.
This is not as easy as I thought, I think, readjusting my wheels, and trying not to run over the heels of the staff member stacking lettuces to my right.
There is no time to think about how well I used to shop on my own in my younger days. All my energy goes into traversing the piles of produce.
We stop at the deli counter for Seyran to buy some fish.
I sidle up next to her, not giving much thought to my positioning.
I hear her give her order, and then I hear a staff member ask, “Can I help you”.
No thank you I answer cheerfully, stepping back, and turning my pram away from the counter. Only to realise he was not talking to me at all.
Things like that are always happening to me, and they are embarrassing and humiliating.
I hope no one noticed, I think as I lower my head in shame, and colour rises in my cheeks.
We move on, skirting most of the middle isles, until I suddenly remember my need for almond meal.
Wait, I say, stopping abruptly. I need almond meal.
Seyran looks up, and begins reading the signs.
Ahh yes, here it is, she says, turning right.
I follow her, only to run into a gentleman and his trolley.
Ooops, I am so sorry, I say as I turn the corner.
He says nothing.
Seyran instantly locates the almond meal, which is nowhere I thought it would be, and hands me a packet.
How much, I ask, as she scans the shelves for different brands.
I did not even know there were differing brands of almond meal.
I have only ever seen it in one packet, and that is the packet I have always bought.
Apparently, there are three brands in our local supermarket, so we do the math.
It turns out the brand I am accidentally loyal to, is the cheapest per one hundred grams, so that is what I buy.
We continue on our way. However, I become side tracked by the crockery as we circle around to the baby food isle.
For at least a year, we have had a chipped pasta bowl, and it has driven me mad.
I hate chipped plates.
I read somewhere once that it was considered bad luck to keep them.
For ages, I have been meaning to purchase a replacement, but I keep finding excuses why we are not worth it.
However, I am sick of thinking about it, and even sicker of feeling shitty every time I use it, so I pick another up, and tuck it precariously under my arm.
We find the formula immediately to our left as we turn the corner.
However of course the specific one I am after is not on special, even though the newborn one in the same brand is discounted.
I try not to let the resentment bubble up, as we make sure to have the correct label.
However, what can I do apart from changing formula?
But that would be a risky move.
Seyran insists on putting my items in her basket in order to free up my hands.
We get to the checkout, and she places my items on the conveyer belt for me.
I have not been through the checkout without my cane for what seems like forever, let alone with the pram.
I fumble to find my wallet, and again worry I cannot make eye contact.
How am I going to punch the numbers in, I begin to strategize as the checkout chick swipes my goods.
Pay Pass, she enquires as I hand over what I hope to be my discount card.
Umm, sure, I say, handing her my credit card.
Well that solves that one, I think as she hands it back.
Wherever possible I prefer to work with cash, as it is more tangible, and I feel as though I have more control.
All Australian notes are different colours, and differing lengths, along with our coins being different sizes.
Therefore, if you have a reasonable idea of what is in your purse, then you can usually be fairly sure about what you are getting back.
Some people only carry five-dollar notes for example, because they can count them out, and be absolutely sure about what they are handing over. Not to mention, they can then only receive coins in return.
However, that is just one blindy strategy.
Personally, I am more flexible in my approach.
Which is code for, I cannot be assed being that organised or pragmatic.
Besides, these days there is not a lot of anything in my wallet apart from wishful thinking, so it does not matter.
The next thing I begin to think about is how will I pick up my bags?
Normally when I have my cane with me, whoever is serving at the checkout is really good at handing me my groceries.
In fact, on the rare occasion I do come shopping, I always go to the same counter, and it is usually the same lady who has gotten to know me who takes care of me.
I think it helps that she once worked with my handsome husband.
She is so good, that she counts out my change in a way, which is very specific, and makes my life so easy.
She even asks me how I would like it.
I love that woman.
I need not worry about my purchases, because as I reach for where I think they should be, the girl who served me hooks them over my hand.
As we walk out, Seyran suggests we stop so I can get organised.
However as I pull the pram up, I run into someone sitting on the bench.
They do not say anything, but neither do I.
I position everything under the pram carriage around the nappy bag, and hope nothing falls out.
Then we continue on our way.
Do you want coffee, Seyran asks as we near one of the three crappy coffee shops in the centre
Mmmmm, no thank you, I reply. Because oh God I can think of nothing, worse than coffee from this joint.
Not to mention, how am I going to push the pram, and carry a coffee?
She orders hers, and then suddenly I realise I am living the mama dream. Therefore, even though I do not feel like coffee, I absolutely must have a take away coffee so I can walk home as the other mummies do.
Yes please, I call to her from my standpoint.
Again, she knows nothing about my motivation.
Oh imagine that, me walking home pushing the pram while sipping coffee.
I am so excited.
I hand her four dollars, thinking surely it cannot be any more than that. However, she comes back within a couple of minutes and tells me it was ten cents more.
I am shocked at the price.
Four dollars ten for a small coffee, I enquire.
Yes, she says with the same sense of resignation.
Coffee futures are definitely worth investing in, I think as I offer Seyran more money.
However, who cares, I am living the mama dream, and so I will happily give up my precious coin for this opportunity.
She hands me my coffee, and the moment I take it, I am confronted with the problem of pushing the pram one handed.
As I attempt to get it moving, I run into a set of what I hope are empty tables and chairs.
I cannot help laughing at my bumbling.
How the hell do other mummies do this, I ask, more to myself than to anyone else.
However, Seyran is an expert, and is way ahead of me.
I struggle to balance my coffee, and push the pram comfortably.
Steering is proving difficult, even with the strength of my wrist.
However, what other option is there apart from sculling my shit coffee so I can have both hands back.
Somehow, I manage to manoeuvre the pram with my free hand as we head out the door and back toward the traffic lights.
Seyran will not hear of me walking home alone, even though I repeatedly assure her I am absolutely fine.
This I try not to take as anything other than her kindness. However, I cannot help but feel if I could see, then we would not be having this conversation.
After all Ronya is tired, and I know she does not traditionally sleep anywhere but her own bed.
Again, I wonder whether she and Michael have had a conversation, and this is part of their arrangement.
I take a second, and step back from my paranoia.
What do I want? I question myself.
To walk with another mummy and sip my coffee?
So why am I complaining?
I am getting exactly what I want, so who cares what is behind it.
Sure walking home alone would be amazing, and I would feel so accomplished, but this is nice too.
I follow Seryan up the street, and around the corner.
Back over the zebra crossing, along the skinny path where I accidentally run us into a pole, followed by a bush.
Now this gets my mummy friend laughing.
How could it not? It is pretty funny.
Getting the pram back up onto the concrete is ridiculously cumbersome.
I wonder what the drivers in the cars going by are thinking.
Still Emily sleeps through the entire thing.
We walk down the hill sipping our coffee, and I cannot get the silly smile off my face.
I am so happy.
Seyran takes a photo of me, so I can put it up on Facebook later.
I try not to let it show just how pleased I am with myself, because I do not want her to know what a big deal this is for me.
Part of me is embarrassed by my foolishness.
When I was young, if anyone dared say I could not or should not do something, I would be out there doing it in a jiffy.
However when it came to the pram, somewhere along the line I forgot to question it.
I forgot to really examine the situation for what it was, and do what I wanted.
I simply assumed I could not do it without a cane or other mobility device, and as shameful as it is to admit, it did not even occur to me to try.
I do not know why, but having Emily was such a big shock, it knocked my confidence for a loop.
It has taken a long time to find my groove again, but I would like to think I am almost there.
Naked pushing the pram is so simple.
By naked of course I mean without a cane or other traditional mobility device.
I wonder what I was thinking before this, I think as we wheel down the hill.
We cross the zebra crossing and head toward the crappiest coffee shop of all.
The very coffee shop which had a big influence on why we moved here in the first place, but turned out to be a dud in terms of customer service.
They made me feel terrible the three times I went in there that, I have not ever gone back.
I cannot tell you how much revenue they have lost from us because of my poor first impressions.
I mean seriously, if you are going to blame me for your getting my coffee wrong, and make me feel as though I am an inconvenience or a freak, of course I am not going to keep coming back.
In fact, when I was buying coffee up the street, I would walk past four cafes to get to the good one.
However presently, mostly I depend on the beautiful red beast situated on my kitchen bench for my caffeine hit.
I am so busy trying to navigate around a sign, and in between the tables, I almost run into a boys bike parked outside the news agency.
However instead of my having to apologise, he does.
I smile, and am so relieved he did not snarl at me, or worse, I did not actually hit it.
As we cross the last road before my front gate, I am elated.
We made it.
I made it!
Oh, I am so so so awesome.
I cannot wait to get home and tell Michael.
Seyran and I say our good-byes at the entrance to my complex, and I take her empty cup.
Lord knows how I actually pushed the pram home and drank my coffee, but I absolutely did.
I practically float down our path and through the gate into our courtyard.
Michael meets me at the front door with a big smile.
Oh honey, I exclaim.
He knows I am happy.
Oh, I thought you would like that, he says with such love, it takes my breath away.
How does he still do that.
Once again, he has proven just how much he has my best interest at heart.
It was amazing, I say as he drawers me into a big hug.
I had the best time.
Did you see, I pushed the pram, I ask.
I know he says, as he leans down to kiss me.