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Unexpected Playground

a woman holding a child's hand outside
About a year before Alyssa started school, I said to myself…right you have a year to lose weight so you don’t embarrass her in the playground. This was then repeated each month on a countdown until the time came and whilst I had lost weight, it wasn’t as much as I had wanted to. 90% of the reasoning was genuinely that I didn’t want her to be teased for having the fat mum because let’s face it, kids can be really bloody cruel. However, the other 10% of me wanted to lose it because I thought it might help me fit in more with the other parents. I mean you hear horror stories don’t you… about the yummy mummy brigade who look like they rolled out of bed in a perfectly manicured state and manage to wrangle Hughie, Dughie and Louie single-handedly whilst preparing a three-course, highly nutritional meal that her children eat, manicuring her own hands with her feet and all without relying on the power of prosecco. I am most definitely not one of those women and worse I am not even with my child’s father, so I felt like a lot, including my weight and uncool personality, were heavily against me.

a mother and daughter holding hands walking along the beach at sunset

We had a couple of settling in sessions where I tried to focus on Alyssa and kind of just suss people out and assess but I have to say, on that first day in the playground I really kind of braced myself. What I wasn’t prepared for to begin with was the eclectic collection of adults I was greeted with. There were mums, dads, some together, some alone and some I later discovered, also separated. There were grandparents and older siblings and a range of ages, shapes and sizes.

The entire evening I had the night before, worrying about what I was going to wear seemed a little wasted and I felt stupid for partially wishing that parents had a uniform too so I wouldn’t have to go through all this. We all kind of stood there, holding back the tears til the little heads disappeared and scurried back to our cars, except for those who already knew each other, whom I secretly cursed for already having an ally.a woman in a dark jacket leaning against a wall surrounded by shadows

However, home time came and I stood in the crowd, not apart but not with anyone. Then I caught someone’s eye and one of us made a quip and before I knew it I was engaged in actual conversation. Not only that, but within a week or so I found myself in the Whatsapp group for the parents of the children in Alyssa’s class. Shocking I know.

There have been talks of play dates and prosecco drinking and all sorts… it’s like these people… are actually human! I joke and I jest but I was genuinely worried and concerned that I was going to be left feeling like I had at school after years of bullying. Technically I know it really shouldn’t have mattered either way because these people are not important to me but they may well be important to people that are important to Alyssa over the coming years so you want to get along.

I am not going to lie, I look around the play ground and I can see a couple of the little cliques and people who will never probably speak to me unless forced by their child but that is okay. There are a couple of friendly faces and people to talk to and that’s all my battered self-confidence needed, a friendly face.

two women on a cliff edge looking out to see. one with folded arms and the other with arms in the air. dressed warmly in jeans and thick cardigans. grey sky, green grass foggy pale blue sea

For those who have not managed to find a friendly face in the playground, plaster on that smile and fake it because at the end of the day the little feet that are racing out of those doors to greet you are the only ones that matter. Anything else is a bonus. I’m just glad it wasn’t as bad as I’d thought.

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