Lesson 103 on Babies, tight budgets and being friends
Nowadays, when I meet a young girl pushing a buggy in our Yummy Mummy suburb, I assume she is the nanny.
It wasn’t like that when I started out. We got married in our late teens and early twenties. Babies just followed, or else they were what had hastened the marriage in the first place.
In those days you couldn’t set up home together unless you were married, nor could you get access to family planning. The pill was only just becoming available and was only prescribed in exceptional circumstances.
We relied on our friends for advice, practical support and entertainment. I doubt my grandchildren and their contemporaries would believe just how self-reliant and resourceful we had to be at an early age, though it didn’t necessarily make us any more sensible or mature. They certainly wouldn’t have much idea of just how hard up we were, or how little we had, not that we bothered much about it. It was just what we expected and accepted.
I had been given an old Silver Cross pram, which was my only wheeled vehicle. My best friend and I would use it for excursions to the Town Centre. On a nice day it was easier (and cheaper) to walk the mile or so, rather than try and manoeuvre everybody on to the bus. It meant we could take the dog as well.
On the way back, when the two toddlers were tired, it could accommodate them and the baby (even the dog too, in an emergency. He was only small.) The shopping fitted underneath.
The pram was great for taking the washing to the launderette. We didn’t have washing machines, just Burco boilers for the nappies, and I had been given a horrendously noisy spin drier, which hopped its way across the kitchen floor if you didn’t lean on it.
My friend had a big dog, because her husband had a second job as a DJ and they needed the dog to protect the equipment. Most of us in the street kept dogs to discourage break-ins, but my friend and I used to go to dog training classes together in the local park. My little dog was so terrified he just used to sit and tremble, but hers was a quick learner. He was an absolute star until it came to “sit and stay”. The moment the lead came off, he was off like a greyhound into the distance. We both got thrown out in the end.
One day, when the toddlers were playing together in her living room, we were having a cup of Nescafe in the kitchen, while we sorted out the laundry. The dog in the garden kept scratching on the back door and whining. In the end we looked out to find out what was wrong. We had forgotten all about the baby. She was sitting in her walking frame in the garden placidly holding out her hands to catch the rain drops which were coming down faster and faster.
Still, at least it was summer.