Tuesday, 15 December 2015

Prams and prejudice

Like all good hypocrites, I'm about to have a healthy rant about something which I was guilty of myself up until only recently.

Before little miss graced us with her presence, I had little time for the pram-pushing posse of parents with an uncanny knack for blocking aisles, doorways and pavements when I needed to get somewhere.  My intolerance probably stems from seven years of London life, where I was one of the 'elbows up' brigade who thought Oxford Street needed a fast lane, who had a wide portfolio of tut sounds reserved for shuffling tourists and teenagers and who was always running late, half thanks to TFL and half thanks to my love affair with the snooze button.

Becoming a mother changed everything.  Suddenly I find myself walking in the sensible shoes of those tired pavement trudgers trying to manoeuvre unwieldy vehicles down uneven streets littered with obstacles and tutting pedestrians.

In the past few months, I've nearly up-ended my precious cargo over a particularly problematic kerb, abandoned shopping because trying to manoeuvre down crowded aisles was annoying me as much as fellow shoppers, and had to do about-turns on pavements rendered impassable by vans or wheelie bins.  I've gone for lunch where they seated seven of us, each with a pram, on the mezzanine level, meaning we each had to stand sheepishly at the top of three steps waiting for staff to help us get back down again when it was time to leave.  I haven't even entertained the idea of taking a train anywhere, for fear that my peculiarly British trait of not wanting to ask for help will mean little miss and I are stranded at the stairs-only station all afternoon while my pleading looks inevitably end up looking more like resting bitch face.

Husband and I didn't really bring practicality into researching prams.  We reasoned that living in suburbia rather than the Serengeti meant we didn't need a zippy little all-terrain number, and ended up with a beautiful but bulky Italian model.  While the pram's perfectly serviceable, I regret now that we were sucked in by its impossibly chic promo video (glamorous madre in heels, padre in a sharp suit) and detachable coffee cup holder (which, in a bitter twist, doesn't even accommodate my cappuccinos) rather than considering whether it was up to the job of navigating clogged pavements, muddy parks and country roads.

So next time you find yourself tutting as you find your festive shopping put on hold by a struggling mother laden down with a squawking infant and a bevy of bags, please remember, when you become a pram-pusher, the world is no longer your oyster but an obstacle course.  I tell myself things will be different once little miss starts walking, but that's probably the festive delusion setting in!