Wednesday, 28 March 2007

Tea for Two

It’s nice, all this weather. Driving through Hyde Park I was hit by the heat haze, and the sparks of sunlight coming off the Serpentine reminded me of midsummer beaches. We were on our way to the Orangery – a café in the middle of Kensington Gardens which is a candidate for the grandest teashop in the country. It’s a little known spot and a favourite destination for West London mums, passed on by word of mouth in hushed tones down the generations. To enter is to enter a pushchair showroom. I was meeting a friend who I hadn’t seen for a while and who now has a two year old and a newborn and a nanny. She had arranged to meet another friend with a young daughter and we all sat down and ordered tea and flapjacks. I had the vague sensation that I was at the wrong table, but I always do when I’m out on trips like this. We chatted. The mum referred to me as “Mr Mom” and laughed, which might have been ironic, or perhaps not. The conversation got round to children. She wanted four and quickly. “So sad just to have two” she said. I smiled indulgently, thinking of our poor dysfunctional family. Were people staring at my daughter and me? “Call the social services. The police. Anyone.” Invariably things like this come to the fore when I’m in groups of mums. It’s never a particularly easy experience. Comments emerge like teabags shaken out of a teapot - eventually and in messy clumps. But then why should it be any different? I didn’t spend time with groups of women before, so why should things have changed now?

We said we really must meet up again, sooner next time. I swung my daughter onto my shoulders and headed in the direction of the car park. I don’t suppose we will. She doesn’t need me for any reason and I can’t say I’d get much out of it either. “Look daddy, I’m reaching out but I can’t touch the sky” said my daughter and I knew what she meant.

6 comments:

Pig in the Kitchen said...

oh SAHD, you sound a bit sad. My hubby always feels v. awkward around the other mums, he says we're all part of the same terrifying coven. Another dad I know always makes a phone call in the playground to avoid having to talk.

But i'm not sure it's that different for Mums...i've just moved to a new city and the coffee mornings send me a bit funny. Isn't there some formula whereby you have to meet 5 million people before you meet someone you get on with? It feels like that sometimes...

Stay at home dad said...

Yes, I guess you're either on the outside looking in or on the inside wanting to get out.

More pressure on you in fact as I'm not expected to be good at it. Bring along your truffles and they'll be eating out of your hand though (literally)...

Pig in the Kitchen said...

But not all women think the stay at home Dads do it badly! Back me up any reading women! We have a very lovely one...I like to listen in if he has to discipline his children, a good no-nonsense style he has.

He runs half-marathons...do you think that's how he copes? Could there be something in that for you once your blogger's foot has gone?!

Ida said...

Came across your blog after a friend recommended I have a read. Not had a chance to look at the rest but despite the fact that I'm a single 25 year old gal working in media, Tea for Two made me realise that you are a protaganist living in the same world as me. We may be playing different roles but for some reason I can sympathise :)

Anonymous said...

Please keep writing. Am really enjoying your blogs. Cheers.

Stay at home dad said...

pig - my coping mechanism usually involves a corkscrew or handing money over a bar. Also, I'd be looking for a smaller fraction of a marathon.

ida - I'm intrigued to know what traits we share. And I find the phrase "a friend recommended I have a read" indescribably exciting.

anonymous - I will! Thanks for taking the trouble to comment.