Having a child draws you into all sorts of new communities. Some days our little family: mum, dad and Rafa can be more than enough to handle; on other days gathering others around you is essential. Living on the other side of the world from the friends and family I gathered about me during the first thirty years of my life can make many things about being a parent challenging.
On maternity leave with a young baby, your days are often filled with miraculous moments shared between just mum and bub. Sometimes though it is that conversation with another adult, at the library or the playground which can make all the difference between feeling like a human being and feeling like a mummy machine (even if that mummy machine is a super yummy mummy machine).
Throughout the summer I unapologetically networked at the playground, determined to feather my nest with friends for the long cold winter ahead. These day of course it is not just through family, work, hobbies, antenatal classes, the playground and playgroup that you connect with the people who make up your world, there is also the internet. And you can talk to people online long after the baby has gone to bed and the playground is dark!
Getting to know the neighbors, Edinburgh, Summer – 2014
I love that Facebook lets me keep in touch with friends and family who are far and wide. Some lives feel remarkably parallel, and others are taking paths that lead them on other adventures. But Facebook only gives you fragments of peoples experiences, only tells part of the story, wets the appetite for more.
One of the motivations behind the ‘You Won’t Remember This – travel tales with babies’ project that I wrote about in my July blog post is to take some of these fragments and conversations to another level. To go beyond the blury glance at a photo of a friend and her son on an elephant in Thailand, or the snippet of conversation at Buggy Bootcamp about an upcoming trip to Turkey and really be immersed in the experiences and reflections of other people who have a similar passion for travel and family.
I am very excited to start receiving stories that have been written for the project, and have had to sit on my hands not to blab to much about the contents before I have the whole collection together. The challenges to write have in themselves been forming part of the in depth conversations going on around the project. Not surprisingly mums and dads with very young children, bursting to tell their tales, find it impossible to prioritising deadlines over sick children and blown up hard-drives.
Rafa on the road at Lake Louise, Canada, March 2014
Thankfully as this is an entirely independent project deadlines can be re-visited. Yes I can hardly wait to share the stories I have received and bring more folks into the conversation about the delights and perils of traveling with babies, but I can wait.
And in the meantime the conversation continues. I have gone public and put a call for submissions up on Creative Scotland– It is very exciting to see my little idea up online… time will tell who I will get to strike up a conversation with next.
If it is you, please don’t be shy about getting in touch. If you have a story to tell email firstname.lastname@example.org
UPDATE: In October 2016 – the project at long last became a book. You can check it out at here.