I took my daughter to her first swimming lesson this morning. I’d been putting it off for weeks because the thought of getting into a swimming costume depressed me but each time she toddled up to me holding her swim nappies saying “Go? Swim?” I felt more and more guilty so decided to just get over myself.
Last night when I was thinking about going I felt a familiar pang of nerves, a feeling I hadn’t had for the last 18 months or so, since my daughter was a year old and I went to my first mum and baby group. Up until she turned one I was pretty disorganised but mostly anxious about taking her places on my own. Scenarios like ‘what if she does a massive poo when I’m in the middle of the park and there’s nowhere to change her?’ (that never actually happened), or ‘what if she has a screaming fit in the middle of a cafe?’ (that happened a few times), even feeding her in public in the early days made me have to sit and think through each step like practising how to tie a shoe lace. Suffice to say I wasn’t ready for groups, too much stress and anyway the chances of me being showered and dressed in time made it a non-starter.
When she turned one I thought right, time she socialised more with other babies (apart from the odd playdate) and I really should get out and try and engage with the adult world again. My NCT friends were heading back to work and I was cast adrift in need of weekday mates to hang out with. I took my sister-in-law with me to the first group, sad as I am I didn’t want to manage the whole thing on my own. I gradually got to grips with the new routine and it didn’t take long for me to build up a healthy schedule of three classes a week.
With the logistical hurdles over I then started to turn my attention to finding friends. When I started this parenting lark I hadn’t anticipated the awkward social situations where you feel you need to, as cooly and subtly as possible, ask other mums “will you be my friend?”! By this point though I’d had enough of strolling round the park on my own and was really feeling a bit isolated and like my former life was nothing but a distant memory. The times I managed to get chatting to someone who seemed like a good ‘friend’ candidate, I would start wondering ‘when’s a good time to ask to swap numbers?’ ‘should I wait till the end of the class or see if she turns up next week?’. I bottled it every time.
Finally I got my act together and not only have I got a bit of a social life back, my daughter has too. Its strange to think how far I’ve come and since the clouds of post natal depression and anxiety have cleared how little these things bother me anymore. The swimming lesson today was a good laugh, if I happen to find another friend along the way then its a bonus.