I knew she was a new mum straight away. If the baby hadn’t given it away, her expression would have. You know the one, a mixture of exhilaration, desperation, pride, joy and terror. There she sat in the restaurant with her tiny new baby, her whole universe, wrapped in clean softness.
She had nervously come in, scanning the room for ‘baby people’ or ‘don’t bring your child into a restaurant people’. She had sat near me as we locked eyes and I gave her a nod of solidarity. Then she took off her coat to reveal her black top and on the back, in full show, was a large white clothes label. The label contrasted against the black and it loudly showed her size.
My immediate response was to lean over and let her know – from one woman to another. But something made me hesitate.
No, I wouldn’t tell her. No.
Firstly, let’s face it, her days of perfection were over. Today it might be just a label on show, tomorrow toothpaste on her top, lipstick on her teeth. Next week it might be a nipple exposed, next month she might be wearing odd shoes and have her bra on the wrong way round. Give it a year and she will very probably be wearing her slippers, her husband’s deodorant and have both boobs out. It’s just the way it is from now on. What was a little label between mums?
Secondly, I knew what it had taken for this woman to come out of the house washed, made up and dressed at all. This woman deserved a medal. I knew the confidence it must have taken to make that step, that scary step into the same old world that is an entirely different world, changed in every way. I didn’t want to knock even a grain of that confidence. Because once upon a time that was me. Your first venture out with this tiny part of you – well, it takes courage. If someone had so much as pointed out a baby wipe on the bottom of my shoe I would have curled into the foetal position and wailed louder than my son at bath time.
Mostly, we are mums. Our labels are on show now – for the world. They read defender, worrier, giver, carer, adorer, warrior, fighter, child bearer. They read ‘changed’, property of another. Size? As big as somebody’s whole world.
I leaned over and smiled, ‘congratulations’. I beamed and she beamed back, from one mother to another.
Let’s not stop to point out mums’ imperfections, mistakes, accidents (however insignificant), instead, let’s lean over, give each other a squeeze and say ‘well done’ more often and be proud of our new label.
Stephanie was selected as a BISS guest blogger after entering our June linky. For your chance to write for GoodtoKnow, check out our Because I Said So platform.