Throughout much of this Blog I have talked about Harry’s operations, hospital visits and medical appointments. What I haven’t really touched on is day-to-day life, so here goes.
On a coldish weekday morning having returned Harry from his latest round of surgery, I decided that it was about time that he got to experience a playgroup. I choose a local one which is in a neighbouring village, I had been to it before with the others. But then, that was then and this is now…
Before Harry’s birth, I had been hoping to take some ‘time-off’ and become a stay-at-home Mum (My stay-at-home friends remind me regularly, however, that it is anything but time-off!) I had visions of running toddler groups (I had previously run one, albeit badly, when Ellie was small) actually baking (rather than faking) cake for the kids’ bake-sales and finally helping them to complete homework without recrimination, armageddon or having to google what a ‘Homophobe’ is.
Obviously, life never goes quite to plan and despite my best efforts, we are never going to compete with those who are living the ‘fairy-tale’ via Instagram and I don’t think there will ever be a time when one of them doesn’t come down, in tears at 9:30pm, saying that they need to complete a vital and large project by 9am tomorrow morning.
We arrived at the group, by now Harry’s massive plaster had come off his head, so to all intents and purpose he looked like all the other little monsters, who were currently hurling themselves around on push-along cars. As we walked in nobody looked up. I put on my best Mummy smile and fussed over Harry who looked up quizzically and then made a beeline for the huge bouncy castle.
As I ran after Harry I noticed a bigger boy, hurl himself towards him. My heart skipped a beat and I literally scooped Harry, who was now howling, out of his path. I then heard his Mum. “Oh look, another first-time older Mum”. What a Cow, I wanted to scratch her eyes out there and then, but decided that probably wouldn’t endear me so I tutted and muttered something which I hoped sounded vaguely intelligent under my breath.
I then looked around. All the Mums were in cliquey little groups and their children suddenly all looked like they wanted to clobber Harry. Harry, however was blissfully unaware of my mini-breakdown continued to make a bee-line for slides, Lego and the bloody kid on the scooter who was now scooting straight for him. The kid’s Mum on the other-hand, sipped latte from the on-site café, filed her nails and chatted to everyone.
After what seemed like forever someone actually spoke to me. “Is he your first? ” she asked whilst trying desperately to guess my age. “No 4th” I said. “Oh wow!” She looked at me quizzically as if to say then why the hell are you not sitting down ignoring your kid like the rest of us.
It was at this point that another child ran up and smacked Harry over the head with a railway track. “Oh my God” I wailed. Harry screamed and the mother of the kid strode over and glared at me. “They’re only kids she tutted, whilst rolling her eyes (Witch! That’s usually my skill!) at her friend.
I could feel the tears pricking behind my eyes. “He’s got hydrocpehlaus” I squeaked “and has just come out of brain surgery”. The room went quiet, everyone stared and she just walked off. Not one person came over to ask if we were OK. They all just turned their backs and went back to their huddles, pointing at us and giving us the by now all to familiar, sympathy look, but don’t actually ask, stare.
Harry by this point, had stopped screaming and contiuned to play and babble with delight at his new found freedom. Conversely, I was now staring at the huge clock, desperately to decide at what point could I leave without it looking too obvious. The session was due to finish at 11:30. At 11:17 I packed our stuff and hurried out the door. As soon as I got into the car I cried, great big fat tears whilst Harry kicked his feet and stared at his blubbing mother in disbelief. Playgroups with Harry were never going to easy but this had been horrible, isolating and frightening and the cliquey Mummy’s were complete shits.
I guess I should be thankful that Harry doesn’t ‘look disabled’ but in some ways that makes things harder. To look at him you wouldn’t think that there was anything wrong, let alone that he has already had four brain surgeries. One thing is for sure, to get through this I am going to need my ‘tribe’. I am never going to another group like that alone again- from now on ‘my’ girls, were going on mass!