When my son started at the school nursery, I became ‘a playground mum’. Playground mums are those mums who are lucky enough to be able to drop off and collect their lovely offspring from school or nursery each day. When I stopped work and became a ‘stay at home mum’, I gave this aspect of my new role no thought whatsoever, absolutely none.
I did, however, give a great deal of thought to how I was going to get to school with my 2 children in tow. We live about a mile and a half from the school. We have a car but this seems a ridiculous distance to drive and also, I just don’t seem to have the appropriate attitude for driving and parking around a school at peak times. I can’t seem to help myself. I just can’t shake my deeply held belief that other people also have a right to life, and to parking in their own driveways, and being able to travel safely along a public road. Also, try as I might, I can’t seem to stop believing that people go to the trouble of painting double yellow lines and zig zag lines for a reason other than to provide a colourful place to park.
Back to my school run quandary. So, just the thought of driving to the school filled me with fear. Anyone who has ever attempted walking a mile and a half with a 3 year old and a 1 year old on a regular basis will know why this was an unthinkable option (think lateness and arguing day in, day out). Enter….the cargo bike…..
Oh, how I love my cargo bike! More on this in another post but, suffice to say, I get to ride a bike (albeit very very slowly), every single day, whilst looking after my children. I know exactly how long the journey will take, I don’t have to worry about finding a parking space, the children actually love it, and the only downside seems to be the fair number of drivers around the school who do not share my deeply held belief about right to life, etc, etc.
So, mode of transport sorted. Now, what to wear. When Danny first started nursery, he had an afternoon place and Ellen still needed a nap after lunch. She would happily nap on the bike, and what a mileage winner this was. After I dropped Danny off, I had an hour long route on cycle paths (ok, so an hour was only about 8 miles, who cares, I was cycling!) which would be about as long a nap as Ellen needed. That gave me a little while to play back at home before hopping back on the bike to collect Danny from nursery. I had not been able to cycle this much since Danny was born and it was brilliant. It reminded me how much cycling was a part of my identity and something I needed to do to feel like me.
It also reminded me why cycle clothing involves padding and lycra after a few weeks of an hour and a half a day cycling, wearing jeans. Oh my goodness, my poor arse! So, cycle clothing it was then. Cycle clothing, for the school run.
It was then that I started to notice the playground mums.
I do not know how they do it. Every day the playground is filled with mums, dropping off their children, and looking amazing. Their hair is straightened, their makeup is perfect, they are stylishly dressed. Not just one or 2 of the mums, it seems like almost all of them. Regardless of whether or not they are going on to work. Nobody warned me that this was part of having children. That I would suddenly feel like I really should make more of an effort about my appearance.
And not a single one of those playground mums was wearing well used and very very comfortable lycra.
I obviously cannot say for certain, but I am pretty sure that I am in a very small minority in having a padded insert in my trousers on the school run. Nobody warned me that the playground is as intimidating for the mums as it is for the children. And I felt like the weird one in the class who is only just realising that the way they are dressed is wholly inappropriate for the situation.
My arse felt so much better though. And I was on a bike. So I got over it (mostly…I still feel a bit like the weird kid in the class).