Picture Perfect Parenting (or: Social Media for Mothers)

Sarah cuddling Baby Rooftops

I never used to understand people who said that social media made them feel bad. They would talk about the perfect lives their friends were portraying on Facebook or the beautiful coffee dates bloggers were sharing on Instagram and feel like they were failing in comparison.

I didn't get it.

My Facebook has never been full of glamour or bragging. My Facebook used to be full of people whinging about their work or their neighbours or the weather or the seagulls. Nowadays, my Facebook is full of George Takei and running updates (I am never going to be jealous of people's running updates). Most of the holidays my friends take are in rainy parts of the UK and very few of them can afford fancy new shoes. 

My Twitter is a bunch of people I've met through blogging chatting about roof repairs. You are all absolutely awesome but I've been through many, many home emergencies and I'm never going to envy you your leaky chimneys.

And as for Instagram, it used to be nothing but blurry snapshots of necklaces, coffee art and kittens - people were capturing brief, pretty moments in their lives but I wasn't so naive as to think that they were all swanning around, Disney princess style, with bluebirds in their hair and flowers springing up in their footprints. It didn't fool me into thinking they or their lives were perfect.

Sophie the Giraffe

But motherhood seems to have changed all that.

I got a little taste of this while I was pregnant. I had connected with several other bloggers whose babies were due around the same time as mine and I enjoyed comparing their pregnancy notes to my own.

But while I was more or less housebound they were out Instagramming blue and pink cupcakes at their baby showers, extravagant gifts at their leaving dos and pineapple curries on their "last" childfree dates with their partners. While I was having to ask other people to construct Matilda's crib they were tweeting about painting murals, installing new bathrooms and, you know, walking up and down the stairs unaided. I'll admit to feeling a little bit of envy. 

This was tempered by the knowledge that, while they struggled to work with morning sickness, swollen ankles and alarmingly high blood pressure, I was sitting at home reading, online shopping and eating a great deal of cake. 

I could see enough good in both situations to not convince myself that their lives were more perfect than mine. 

Sunlight through leafy tree canopy

It's harder now the babies are all here, though. 

So much of early parenthood is spent feeling overwhelmed, wondering how to do things, worrying that you're getting it wrong. Sometimes all it takes is one Instagrammed wine glass for me to forget that the other new mothers are all having their moments of self doubt and panic, too.

When I look at Instagram, I see other parents taking their babies on excursions (and forget that that's easy when you have a car); I see other parents eating fancy desserts (and forget that we also manage that when we buy them ready made); I see other parents with peacefully slumbering infants (and forget that Matilda spends huge amounts of her time sleeping cutely, too).

It's easy to assume that all the other parents have got it sussed - that they're all perfect earth mothers, drifting through sunny meadows with their babies held aloft, picking berries with which to cook complicated meals. 

Sleeping baby sprawled on lap

But they're not.

And nor am I.

We're all dealing with dirty nappies. 

And, yes, some of their babies will do some of the new tricks sooner than Matilda does (I say that but my child is a super-advanced genius who has so far hit every milestone two weeks earlier than average. Other than the sleeping through the night one, godammit!) but, then, some of their babies are not as calm or as sociable as Matilda. They're all different little kids; their parents all get different deals.

And it's easy to forget that I'm not Instagramming any of the tough stuff, either. My Instagram is all baby cuddles and sunshine through the treetops as we go for family walks. Life looks perfect in an online photo album.

And, actually, ten weeks into parenthood... well... I don't want to say "perfect" is entirely accurate (did I mention the lack of sleep?) but nowadays I know that I've got it pretty good.

Heart print top and tiny button

See also: One of the many times I got sick of Facebook, why I'm all for coffee art and kittens on Instagram and why we need to stop calling people "smug" when they're happy.

Why Matching Mugs Don't Make a House a Home

"This House is Filled With Love" framed print
Print from Freya Art
About ten years ago now, my then-boyfriend and I bought a flat together. We had been house hunting for twelve long months and had spent many, many evenings watching home decor shows and DIY shows and shows about climbing the property ladder so, by the time we finally had the keys to our own place, we had some very clear ideas about what we wanted it to look like.

To our credit, those ideas did include chunky, vintage furniture and homemade shelving and very personal pieces of art. But they also included rigid colour schemes.

Our living room was red and cream. Red sofas, red rug, red lamps, big red canvas on the wall; cream carpet, cream shelving, cream walls, big cream blankets on the sofas.

Our kitchen featured a lot of pale blue Nigella Lawson storage jars and we painted the cupboards and shelving to match. Most of our mugs came in pairs.

None of which was bad. But it wasn't very interesting. We were both creative people and, in hindsight, our choices could have - and should have - been much braver.

We split up a year later and (after a brief stint of sofa surfing) I moved into my own council flat. I had ended up with the bedroom furniture but had nothing else to my name; we had made almost no profit selling up and a series of questionable decisions had landed me on minimum wage. There was no option to buy colour coordinated designer kitchenware or matching faux pine side tables. My sofa was £15 from a charity shop; my armchair was the middle of a friend's mother's old sectional sofa; I picked up wooden chairs and a table from the side of the road; I painted the floorboards white because I couldn't afford to carpet.

That flat was sparse for a while but I loved it. It felt so much more mine. Everything had a story attached. Everything was in some way interesting.

Bright blue "HOME" doormat on yellow polka dot floor

When I bought my own flat, three years later, I carried those lessons over. When Steve and I bought our current place - two years ago today - we consciously took our time choosing the new bits of furniture and filling in the blanks. And I think we have the balance right - it looks simultaneously unplanned (because clearly these chairs don't match and there are ten different shades of wood in one room) and intentional (because the colours and the shapes are in harmony).

My original plan for this week had been to show you some before and afters of the flat but, as most of it is currently buried under dust bunnies and baby props, it's not at its most photogenic. That said, here are my tips and tricks for making your home more you without sacrificing style or your savings:

Bold & Broad Colour Schemes

Bird cage mirror; navy walls

Don't be afraid to use colour - I personally prefer the rooms which we use a lot to be light and bright (living room: pale jade; bedroom: cyan; Matilda's room: pale yellow) but the rooms which we spend less time in to be bold statement colours (kitchen: emerald green; dining room: navy blue). When it comes to furniture and accessories, forget strict red-and-cream colour schemes and opt for a broader palette instead. Look for a range of colours which either harmonise or which purposely clash rather than restricting yourself to anything too defined. For example, our pale jade living room is full of pale blues and greens, dark purples, dark woods and white accessories - we weren't strict about colours when purchasing things but kept this loose colour scheme in mind.

Complementary Shapes

Cat sleeping on telephone table in the sun

I had picked up an Ercol telephone chair in a charity shop a few years ago; when it came to buying an armchair to sit next to it, I knew that pale, chunky legs next to its spindly, dark ones would look really odd - I kept hunting until I found a chair with legs which matched. It's a tiny detail I doubt anybody else notices but it makes the pieces fit so much better next to each other.

Work With What You've Got

Jade fire surround with pom-pom garland
The pom poms were a gift from Elise which I strung together one Christmas.

This is one I very much learned in my council flat where I absolutely hated  the kitchen. It was 70s dark wood effect melamine with washed out blue walls and it was ugly. Until the day I was inspired to paint the walls yellow. Instantly, the room looked cheerful and the cupboards looked intentionally retro. Sometimes small tweaks make huge changes. In this flat, I turned a yucky fire surround into a statement by painting it jade; we moved shelves from one room to another and gave them a lick of paint; the kitchen cupboards we wouldn't have chosen looked a bit less blah for having their trim removed. If you can't afford a huge refit, get creative instead.

Follow Trends Sparingly

Photo wall - black picture frames

Take Pinterest as inspiration not instruction. My home decor board is full of pins I'm not going to copy but, by looking at them, I can get a better idea of what appeals to me. I don't want shelves made of ladders or a wall of hats or to frame our mug collection but, by seeing that I've pinned all of those things, I realise that I like open, interesting storage solutions. I notice I pin a lot of rooms with splashes of colour in strange places; I pin a lot of striped floors; I pin a lot of sparkly things - those are all things I bear in mind when I'm plotting what to do in my own home. I don't pin chevron walls, no matter how in fashion they may be, because they don't appeal to me but I do have a chunky letter S propped on the mantelpiece because that's one trend that I love.

Shared Homes Should Express Both/All Personalities

Heart shaped coasters
Coasters made by my cousin, Susan, who runs Shop Scotland.
But our decor isn't just about me. Would I choose to have skull shaped objects sitting around our living space? Not a chance. But I know they appeal to Steve and Steve owns half of this flat and Steve's personality should be visible, too. There's a certain amount of compromise when two (or more) people share a home - although, contrary to most people's assumptions, a lot of the dinosaurs are mine.

Cherish Stories

Framed family portrait; toy dinosaur; succulent
The family portrait was our new baby card from Laura.

Almost everything in this flat has a story attached - where we found it or why we bought it or which of our friends made it. Where possible, be patient. Wait to find something you love instead of plunking for a matching set of flatpack furniture. It's always more fun to say, "Our friend made this table from scaffolding board" than, "Oh, we bought it in Argos."

The Best and Worst Bits of Life With a Newborn

A few weeks ago, a friend asked me what the best and worst bits of life with a baby are. It took me several hours to reply to her text message (because I was feeding and then entertaining Matilda) and it has taken me several weeks to write the resulting blog post (because I was feeding and then entertaining Matilda) but here goes!

Baby Rooftops peeking over yellow hand knitted cardigan

Let's get the not-so-great bits out of the way first, shall we?

Incidentally, these are the best and the worst bits for me. I know, for example, that a lot of people would have "The crying! Oh my god, the crying!" at the top of this list but - so far - Matilda is not a very weepy baby; I can't really complain about her occasional grump. On the other hand, some people manage to cook fancy meals whilst looking after a newborn, whereas I can't seem to make myself a sandwich.

So. Here are the things which I do find challenging:

The Worst Bits of Life With a Newborn

Dirty Nappies

In particular: dirty nappies at 3am. Self explanatory, right?

The Mad Housework Dash

Although Matilda sleeps well at night, through the day she will only really nap in my arms. As a result, the mountains of laundry and the forest of dirty baby bottles get dealt with in the evening or at the weekend and I always feel a tiny bit stressed about potentially falling behind - I'm totally(-ish) fine with the flat being a little grottier than usual but the things which allow me to keep Matilda alive and healthy have to get done somehow.

The Steep Learning Curve

I'm used to feeling like a competent, capable person but suddenly I'm having to learn how to do everything. I don't just mean the baby-specific things like reading Matilda's body language, putting the ideal number of sheets on her bed and buying the correct size of nappies - I mean such simple, everyday things as catching a bus (with a pram!) or nipping to the corner shop (with a pram!) or going to a cafe (with a pram!). It's odd, not really knowing what I'm doing half the time.

The Exhaustion

I don't mean the sleep deprivation (that's tough but I'm pretty used to poor quality sleep); I mean twelve hours a day of caring for and attempting to entertain a baby. Things get a bit repetitive, waving the same toys around on the same playmat in the same flat, day after day. It's getting easier now Matilda and I are better able to get out and about (I'm stronger; she's calmer) but I still hit a wall about four o'clock most days and feel very, very ready for Steve to get home from work.

Sharing a Bedroom

Partly, this is because babies can be restless and noisy - the best description I saw on a parenting forum was, "It's like sharing a bedroom with a very noisy badger". Spot on. It's taken me a while to start sleeping through Matilda's non-urgent snuffling. There's also the question of what it is and is not appropriate for two grown ups to get up to with a baby sleeping two feet away...

Realising That I Have Nothing Else to Talk About

Not that any of my friends expect me to talk about anything else right now, but I still find myself worrying that I'm boring them and apologising for my single track mind.

But it's not all tricky stuff. In a lot of ways, the past nine weeks have been incredible.

The Best Bits of Life With a Newborn

The Slow Pace

I spend so much of my day sitting on the sofa, not-so-tiny baby curled against my chest. Sometimes I read. Sometimes I surf the net. Sometimes I just watch her sleep. Having to slow down and let my normal routine slide is rather lovely.

Her Ferocious Determination

Nine weeks ago, Matilda didn't exist - not really. That's incredible to me. And it's amazing how much she has learned since then. When she puts her mind to something, she tries and she tries and she tries and she shouts and she squeals and she thrashes all her limbs around madly until she finally succeeds.

Her Curiosity

For the first six weeks or so, Matilda found pretty much anything outside the flat overwhelming - if we took her anywhere new, she would bury her face into one of us and cling on tight. Suddenly, she's fascinated by the world. We take her out in her carrier and instead of falling asleep she gazes around her. I love watching her learn.

The Other Parent

My heart could burst watching Steve and Matilda interact. This has all been new to Steve, too, and it's incredible watching him find his confidence as a father; he has gone from not having a clue what to say to her to swooshing her around the room, singing nonsense songs and wittering on about dinosaurs. I'm so full of love for my tiny family.

Baby Clothes

So adorable.

Children's Books

As above.

The Smiles

There is nothing in the world - nothing at all - as beautiful as Matilda's smile. Especially when it's aimed right at me.

Extra: Ordinary Moments

Baby sledging on a tray

It's all baby stuff this fortnight - but you were expecting that, right?

Matilda turned eight weeks old on Tuesday (I'll stop counting in weeks soon, I promise!) so she and I both had our big health check ups and she had her first set of injections. Having seen her deal with drips and enjoy an x-ray before, I wasn't too worried about this - I had this ridiculously naive idea that she's just good with medical stuff. Turns out she's good with medical stuff which isn't having needles poked into both thighs when she's not expecting them. She also had a sore tummy for several days afterwards, poor wee thing.

Today is Father's Day. Steve and I have no plans to pay attention to Mother's and Father's Days but the first year feels too significant to ignore - especially as this one is so early on in Matilda's life - so there is a gift, some chocolates which refer to an inside joke and also a tiny T-shirt for Matilda proclaiming her dad to be a superhero. We're going to check out a family fun day in our local park (Matilda is too young for any of the activities but she's - thankfully - starting to find excursions interesting instead of overwhelming) and there may even be a little alcohol later on.

For more photos from my life visit Two Days the Same and/or my Instagram.

Adventures in Bedtime Scheduling

For the past two weeks - since she turned six weeks old - Matilda has had a set bedtime. She was not as keen on this development as her parents were.

It had to be done.

Some of our friends-with-kids feel otherwise. Some sit in quiet, darkened rooms all evening; some go about their normal evening activities with a baby napping next to them. 

But for Steve and me it was important to introduce a bedtime. 

Getting Baby Rooftops into a sleep schedule / bedroom routine.

We felt it was important for Matilda because (we think) she will be better prepared for the day ahead if she's had a full night's sleep in her own bed.

But it's also important for us. We wanted a little bit of wind down time at the end of each day - to be able to eat dinner without tending to the baby; to be able to watch grown up TV without worrying about what Matilda was seeing or hearing; to be able to curl up and spend time as a couple, making adult conversation.

Because we live in a fairly small, single level flat, Matilda is close enough that we can hear every grunt and snuffle, every sigh and loud suck so we weren't worried about leaving her in a different room.

The only concern was how to get her to accept her new bedtime routine quickly and with minimal crying fits. Although, as it turned out, most of the tears were mine.

The first night, Steve and I tried to do the bedtime routine together (our bedtime "routine" is as simple as we could make it: put on her pyjamas; feed her; kiss her goodnight. If she's not settling, we give her a dummy. We'll introduce a story when she's a bit older but we don't want her relying on a set of very specific actions or conditions to fall asleep).

I couldn't do it, though.

We put on her pyjamas. We fed her. We kissed her goodnight. And then she didn't fall asleep instantly. She lay in her crib, staring at us and gurning because we were watching her. And I burst into tears - "She's lying here being tiny on her own! She thinks we're abandoning her! We have to rock her to sleep and stay with her so she knows that we still love her!"

It was too hard. I was too upset. We ended up agreeing that Steve would do the bedtime routine on his own at least until Matilda was used to it.

And it's going really well. Steve puts her to bed; she calls us back through two or three times in the space of fifteen minutes; she falls asleep.

The times she calls us back through can be tough, though.

Most of the time, she has jolted awake because her dummy has fallen out - she reacts by waving her arms and legs around and hurling her sheets off herself. We tuck her in again and she settles right down.

Occasionally, if she's overtired, she will be cross - that can be difficult to deal with.

Occasionally her huge blue eyes will be filled with tears - I inevitably weep over her crib as I give her another goodnight kiss.

But now - now - she can smile. So now, occasionally, we approach her crib and the most enormous grin spreads across her face - "You came back! You do love me!" It breaks my heart.

There are moments when I think we should abandon the bedtime routine, we should give up on having couple time together, we should rock her in our arms twenty-four hours a day. But, over all, I do believe this is the best approach for all three of us.

And it's working.

She's falling asleep faster. She's needing her dummy less often. She sometimes skips one of her overnight feeds which means more sleep all round (hurrah!). And she's saving all of her energetic awake time for daylight hours which means a happier, less frustrated life for us all.

Now if we can just figure out how to get her to take her daytime naps somewhere other than my arms I'll be... well... ready to move on to my next developmental obsession, I suppose...

What I've Been Reading Recently

The Versions of Us by Laura Barnett*
Cambridge, 1958. Eva and Jim meet and fall in love. Or perhaps they meet but Eva chooses to stay with her boyfriend, David. Or perhaps they don't meet at all. In this gorgeous book, all three possibilities play out, side by side, each bringing over fifty years of unique joys, sorrows, passions and heartbreaks. The alternate realities thing may have been done before but this book goes beyond the standard "one true love" clich├ęs to explore whether there is really one right choice, one right person or one right path in life. It was surprisingly easy to keep track of the three separate story lines and I cared deeply about how each one turned out - I may have even been a little teary once or twice. Highly recommended.

Motherland by Jo McMillan*
It's the late 70s and Jess and her mother are communists in a Tory town in England. Over the course of a few summers in East Berlin, they each form connections to Germany and to German friends... but at what cost? This is a convincing coming of age set to an interesting backdrop; it felt a little slow to me but it's an unusual enough story that I did want to find out how it was all going to end.

Summer Secrets by Jane Green*
Cat is an alcoholic whose drinking has messed up her relationship with her long lost family and driven her husband away. I (rightly or wrongly) associated Jane Green with lightweight romance so I wasn't expecting painfully real first person accounts of excessive drinking, terrible decisions and unsuccessful attempts at going sober - Cat is a very flawed person and there is no shying away from her mistakes. While that part of the book had real emotional depth, the family-drama-messy-love-life elements were flimsier - the over all book felt a little disjointed to me as a result; part beach read, part gritty confessional. That said, I did enjoy it and it has left me itching for a holiday in Nantucket.

*Provided by the publisher or agent for review.
Affiliate links are used in this post. Mainly for the ease with which I can post pictures of the book covers. Where else can I get book covers without taking dodgy screenshots?

Aberdeen Bloggers Meet Up

Yesterday, I headed to Rye and Soda for brunch with six other Aberdeen (and Aberdeenshire) bloggers.

There had been several conversations on Twitter recently about the dearth of blogger meet ups in the North East of Scotland (the nearest ones are generally Glasgow and Edinburgh) so Karen from Tiny Bird Heart took the initiative and sorted something out.

Raw strawberry and carrot juice from Rye and Soda restaurant, Aberdeen

Karen and I originally got chatting when we realised that our babies were due within a couple of weeks of one another (you can see her birth announcement here). Despite having been in touch for seven months, this was the first time we met in person and I was excited to put a face to the name.

Rosebud Annie and I have also chatted on Twitter so I was thrilled to finally meet her.

Aberdeen bloggers at Rye and Soda
Picture pinched from Rosebud Annie

The other four bloggers were Amey from Teacups and Buttondrops, Christy from Dinner Stories, Laura from Laura Whispering and Anastasia from Natbee's Fashion - I hadn't "met" any of them before the brunch was organised but I'm so glad I have now; all of their blogs are worth checking out!

Of course, get seven bloggers around a table and there are going to be photos! We were all commenting on how nice it was to be eating with people who didn't find it weird that we were shifting the cutlery around and photographing the food!

And what good food it was. I had pancakes with chocolate sauce and bananas but there were all sorts of "proper" meals, too, including a really interesting children's menu that I expect Matilda will eventually sample. I also had strawberry, carrot, something and something else juice (yeah... that's not what it said on the specials board... I'm out of practice at this. I even forgot to take my camera) and it was lovely.

Pancakes with chocolate sauce and bananas at Rye and Soda restaurant, Aberdeen

Here's hoping this was the first of many Aberdeen blogger meet ups - and if you're a local blogger, get in touch; it would be great to have you along!

On the subject of meeting other bloggers: here's when I met Elise for the first time (and how on earth did I end up not blogging about meeting Andrea and Janet?!).

Extra: Ordinary Moments

Sarah and Steve selfie in Illicit Still

One day in May, I drank alcohol for the first time in ten months, wore brightly coloured tights for the first time in seven months and my mum babysat Matilda so Steve and I could have our first date since November. We went for a pub dinner after Steve's work, talked about our baby, debated having a second drink ("alcohol... but... so tired...") and were home by half past six - oh, the crazy new parent lifestyle!

Tiny baby hand gripping mum's finger

This week, Matilda had an ultrasound of her hips because they were a bit clicky when she was born (this is really common - Steve and I both had clicky hips as babies). We were a bit nervous about how she would react but she was completely calm throughout and seemed fascinated by the black and white ultrasound images on the screen. And her hips are fine.

Baby vanishing into yellow cardigan

I can't believe that she's six weeks old now. This is supposed to be the toughest week when the crying and any colic symptoms peak but, actually, she has calmed right down - it may not last, of course, but right now she's got a bit of a routine and she's managing to deal with her own wind and to get herself back to sleep at night; I'm still quite weak so I'm having a bit of trouble with all the lifting and carrying but I'm doing a postnatal pilates DVD and am otherwise feeling much more capable. So all in all: family life is good.

For more photos from my life visit Two Days the Same and/or my Instagram.

Rolling, Rolling... Mushroom and Pesto Puff Pastry Concoction Thingy

You guys, I don't know what's happened to me - I had a baby and now suddenly I'm somebody who posts about cooking as though motherhood has made me domestic or something.

Also, I've started saying "you guys" - this is not the only incident.

But don't worry too much: I had nothing to do with this bit of baking beyond helping to eat it. This is all Steve's doing.

So, yes, not only did Jus-Rol give us samples of their filo pastry sheets and pain(s?) au chocolat(s?) but of their puff pastry sheets, too.

Once again, we were not organised enough to go and find an actual recipe or to have bought specific ingredients so, once again, this was a case of improvising with whatever could be found in our cupboards.

Mushrooms, pesto etc on Jus Rol puff pastry

What could be found in our cupboards was: mushrooms; pesto; sweetcorn; cheddar cheese; spinach; some sort of herbs.

What Steve did was: cook them all up and bung them on top of a puff pastry sheet; bake it for twenty minutes. So easy (apparently).

And this tasted good. Both fresh out of the oven for dinner on Saturday and reheated for lunch on Sunday, it was gorgeous.

Mushrooms, pesto etc on Jus Rol puff pastry

Steve is hugely impressed by Jus-Rol products. He's warned me to expect a run of pastry-based food because suddenly all the recipes which had previously sounded far too complicated have become simple and accessible. Well, that sounds good to me!

It's Cool - I Don't Think Your Three Year Old Is Being Rude (Even If You Do)

Monkey hot water bottle

It doesn't seem so long ago that friends with children were the exception, not the rule.

In fact, go back five years and the majority of my friends did not want children, did not like children and spent a lot of time complaining when expected to spend any time with children.

"Since So-and-so had a baby, it's all she can talk about," they moaned. "We've got nothing in common any more."

"Ugh, Thingummy keeps bringing her toddler round," somebody else would respond, "and doesn't try to stop him jamming biscuits in my Xbox. I didn't invite her toddler - I invited her! Doesn't she have a babysitter?"

I write all this in the third person because I didn't join in often. I have a couple of friends who had babies very young and they had eventually got past the no-other-topics-of-conversation stage; I was happy to wait things out. But I'll admit that I carefully phrased a few party invites to make it clear that there would be lots of alcohol and it would go on late and children were probably best left at home.

In fact, even as a new mother, I think that "admit" is the wrong word there. I still believe that anything centred around Eurovision and the dregs of your duty free alcohol experiments should be a childfree zone.

Still, five years on I find myself facing the opposite extreme.

Suddenly, those same friends who so resented children five years ago have three year olds of their own. Suddenly, they're not complaining about people bringing their kids along.

They are bringing their kids along instead.

And some of them seem to think that it's only the child I want to socialise with.

To be clear: when I suggest meeting a friend with a child for coffee, I assume that they will bring the kid along. When somebody suggests coffee with me, I assume they're expecting me to turn up with my baby. Unless otherwise specified, it's pretty much a given that parents of little ones will have the little ones in tow.

But, no matter how adorable their child is, it's the parent I really want to see.

Particularly now.

My one topic of conversation may currently be Matilda, but I want to have that babycentric conversation with another adult, not just with their three year old. I spend so much of my life singing nursery rhymes right now, I want to talk to a grown up.

Which is why I find it uncomfortable when the parent spends the entire two hours trying to coax their tired/shy/sulky child to speak to me.

"Tell Sarah what we did this morning," they say, as the kid burrows his or her head further into their armpit, desperate not to look at me. "Tell Sarah your favourite animal. Tell Sarah what you've called this teddy bear."

Honestly, I don't need to know. The child's favourite colour is not a pressing concern of mine. I would much rather hear how the parent is getting on at work or what the parent has been watching on the telly recently or whether the parent has any plans to get away for a weekend.

I understand that some of them are embarrassed by their kid's antisocial mood; they feel like their child is being rude. But, as the recipient of this apparent rudeness, I don't feel the same.

I've been that child. I've been tired. I've felt shy. I've flat out not been in the mood to socialise - particularly not to socialise with a boring old adult - at times when my parent(s) had plans.

And it was never that I was rude. I was brought up with good manners. I was so polite the local shopkeeper used to give me free sweets as a reward.

But small children have no say over their schedules. Just because their parents feel like grabbing a coffee with a friend, it doesn't mean the kid does. Sometimes - even as an adult - the thought of making conversation is exhausting.

I'm happy to leave that kid alone. More often than not, they perk up of their own accord soon enough.

And in the mean time, I want to grab the chance to talk to my old friend about grown up topics. The peaceful occasions when Matilda is asleep and this other child isn't bouncing around are so few and far between, I want to make the most of them. Frankly, even if the kid is being rude, sometimes I want to celebrate that because sometimes - sometimes - the world isn't all about infants; sometimes the world should also be about us.