We joined the NCT, who have largely been great. So we now know six other local new parents with babies about the same age. Coffee mornings keep the group social. It’s a great support network, and i’d recommend it to anyone, but there are some strange undercurrents…
All the NCT people are lovely. There a real mixed bag of people – from different walks of life that Claire and I would probably never have met otherwise. It’s lovely to hear other people’s joy in their children, and it is very encouraging not to be the only person suffering hopelessly irrational worries. Also, suppport through the maze of products – which breast pumps are the best and all that.
However, maybe it’s just Claire and I, but there is some competitiveness in the group. We all offer advice and information to each other, but it can seem tinged with one upmanship.
There’s topping: how amazing our baby is, so aren’t we great parents:
-He really likes Mozart, he always turns towards the speaker.
And then its opposite – bottoming? – how terrible our baby is. Which of course, makes us great parents for we suffer so:
-He was so colicy last night, we only had one hour of sleep.
Now, it is encouraging to hear the experiences. But to me there is always a slight sense of needing to ensure that we are the special ones.
I think we all feel proud of our little ones, and in our own homes, families and so on, the baby is centre stage and clearly Olivier-winning. But then, with the NCT group, s/he is ‘just another baby’. Experiences can suddenly be shockingly banal – nappies, crying, how little their hands are – so we have to bolster egos a little, regain a sense of the unique.
Now i think about it, we probably all do this in other areas.
-I’ve had such a day at work, you wouldn’t believe…
-Ah yes, but imagine if you had my boss…
It’s certainly going to make me question more why i feel the need to say something. Is it actually relevant to the listener, or do i need to say it for some reason that is purely my own, to garner something? I can’t help noticing that the happpiest and calmest people I ever meet don’t need to fill silence with words.
Now, usually I can’t stop talking, and I’m writing this to the aether. So what does that mean?
One reason for the closeness in the NCT group, though, is that there is suddenly a great difficulty in speaking to those who do not have either children, or plans to have children. Other things – from politics to football – really do not matter, and I can’t understand why i used to spend so much time talking about them. I think parents live in a separate world that can only be understood as such from the inside.