Had a baby? Get ready to spend the next eight years of your life in the park, pushing kids on swings, stopping toddlers from braining themselves as they run towards the world’s fastest roundabout, and if you’re really lucky, having a few minutes of me-time on your phone. As mums, we all spend a lot of time in the park, but the experience can be very different, depending on the age of your child. See how many incarnations you can tick off from the Seven Ages of Mum…
1. The Newbie
Newbie Mum has brought her scrumptious, chubby-faced, clean – yes they’re clean until 6 months remember! – baby to play at the park. They cut an adorable scene, as Newbie pushes her precious first born so gently on the swing that they barely reach a 5 degree angle. A passerby could not discern motion. Newbie and baby couldn’t give a toss though, they are engrossed in one another, giggling and smiling. Until the inevitable poonami. At which point The Newbie realises she didn’t pack spare clothes, and is forced to abandon ship, pronto.
2. The Panic Merchant
The Panic Merchant is usually the not so proud owner of at least one toddler. Possibly two. Or maybe a toddler and a newborn. She is destined to spend her entire time in the park with a heart-rate of above 120 beats per minute, as the aforementioned toddler(s) run in front of moving swings, try to climb out of the moving roundabout, leap off the playhouse’s perilous platform without a care that it’s five feet off the ground or – the toddler’s piece de resistance – the zip-wire dash! Running faster than a whippet, the toddler hurtles towards the zip-wire as a tweenager saddles up for a death-defying ride. The Panic Merchant can be seen running across the park, shouting, whilst trying to stuff the baby back in the sling. Within 60 seconds she can be seen exiting the park, vowing silently never to return.
3. Fun Mum
4. Police Mum
5. Losing Her Sh*t Mum
6. Smartphone Mum
7. The Whistler
The Whistler doesn’t really engage in Parklife any more. That’s her kid, about to ride the zip-wire, with a crew of tweens to cheer them on, oblivious to the toddler hurtling towards them, closely followed by a sweating, screeching mother. The Whistler’s children are young enough to enjoy the park, and old enough to do so without the constant supervision and life-saving interventions of the other Park Mums. The Whistler coolly trots to the park when it’s home time, and summons her not-quite-grown-up offspring with an ear-splitting wolf whistle. Which of course they ignore. Because however old the child, some things never change…
About Alison McGarragh-Murphy
Alison writes and edits stuff for The Motherload®, and is also a radio producer and broadcast journalist, a mum of two and a wife of one. Since becoming a mother she has (mostly) gladly swapped a busy social life of gigs, pubs, art galleries and museums for dancing in the kitchen, drinking on the sofa, finger painting and hanging out at the park. She talks incessantly about not having slept for four years.
Image credit: Flickr/Greg Goebel 29 July 2012