When I moved to the UK in my 20’s I was struck by how much more walking they do over here. And I was also struck by buggies. Strollers, as I would have called them back then. Strollers being pushed by terrifying, frazzled women hunched over their buggies, loaded down with shopping bags. They had the look of a demon in their eyes and pushed their buggies with the ferocity of a linebacker at the Super Bowl. Get in their way and you’re losing a toe.
‘What’s the matter with these rude people?’ I’d wonder, ’As if having a kid gives them the right!’ I was self righteous and oh-so incredibly stupid. I know this now because I am the frazzled shell of a woman ploughing down those who fail to jump out of the way. And let me tell you what exactly is wrong with people like me and what gives me the right: pushing that buggy is bloody hard!
So for anyone out there who’s lost a toe to the woman pushing the buggy, let me explain some things to you.
1) It might be 10 am, but she’s been trying to get out the door with that damn buggy since before you were awake. – It may be unbelievable that someone who’s been awake since 6am hasn't even managed to do her hair and forgot to brush her teeth. She’s been making sure the baby’s fed, cleaned, re-cleaned and probably re-re-cleaned. Then she has to gather nappies, wipes, bottles or snacks, toys, extra clothes. It’ll have been a miracle if she remembers her purse, let alone her lip gloss. And those are the easy days when there are no tantrums, teething or baby colds – those days are harder. She’s trucking that buggy that way because she’s exhausted and lugging more baggage than Rihanna.
2) She’s in a bigger hurry than you – Everyone has somewhere important to go, but going out with a baby is like being sent out to the shops with a time bomb. That bundle of joy has no audible ticking, nor is there any red wire we can cut to diffuse it, but he is defiantly set to blow at a specific time. Mums get good at sensing it in the air. They know that if lil’ junior doesn't get fed or napped or changed or home by a certain time, there will be hell to pay. If you don’t make your bus, you’ll be a bit bummed, write a tweet about how it sucks and get on with waiting for the next one. If that mum with the wild-eyed crazy determined stare on doesn't make the bus, she’s sat with a screaming baby in the bus shelter for the next half hour. Your glares will let her know it’s no fun for you, but trust me, it’s far worse for her.
3) She doesn't care about the point you’re trying to prove – She’s just pushed buggy, baby and all 50kg of necessary baby stuff up a hill, over broken pavement and through puddles. She’s dressed like a hobo, and her hobo rags are covered in baby puke and little crusty bits of baby snot. She’s had 2-3 hours sleep. She’s not had sex in 3 months. She’s remembered the rain cover for the baby buggy, but not her own umbrella. So when you meet her on the narrow pavement and stay on the side where you are, even though she’s trucking along towards you, she’s not going to move. It’s not that she’s being a bitch. It’s not a game of chicken to her. She really can’t maneouver that buggy as well as you want her to, so be warned. Move it, or say bye-bye big toe.
4) She’s been dealing with hundreds of pavement hogs already today – She’s also been dealing with doors that aren't big enough for the buggy, shops that are impassable because of steps at the entrance, feeling like a frumpy mess and even feeling guilty that everyone is pissed off that her buggy is in the way. She really doesn't want to ruin your day. She really doesn't think she and her child are more important than you. She’s just trying to make her way through another day filled with obstacles – physical and metaphorical. She may not have noticed you there amongst all that, or she may have hoped that your common decency would have had you step to one side.
I know I've been the one on the other side, failing to appreciate the plight of the buggy mum. Sorry to all those I didn't get right out of the way for - I should have given you all a medal! Or at least a hug.