Ahead of my first Mothers' Group meeting I knew I needed to be on my best behaviour. I have a tendency to be overly competitive, and was foreseeing a morning of enough comparisons to leave my head spinning.
So whilst I was expecting a healthy degree of competitiveness regarding babies' sleep patterns, weight and crying, nothing had prepared me for the pram parade I was about to experience.
I live in an affluent part of Sydney and I was aware that many of the women there would be well-to-do. As the mothers strolled in, however, I witnessed a flagrant display of wealth that left me reeling. There were Stokkes and Bugaboo's galore. It was a catwalk of buggie high couture. The prams were ultra light, ultra flexible, ultra compact, and ... well.... beautiful.
I had pram shame.
As soon as the group was over I legged it out of there as fast as my 1999 second-hand Steelcraft Strider wheels could carry me. I was mortified as I tried to manouvre around a mother when my wider-than-Kirstie Alley's-arse pram got stuck between the doorway and her own stroller. I felt like I was steering a broken supermarket trolley - the front left wheel was acting like an uncoordinated limb, letting the entire body down.
I finally escaped, feeling destitute. Not only was I the only mother there with an e-bay purchased pram, but I was the only woman there to have given birth in a public hospital. There were 33 mothers in this Community Centre class, and I was the sole person there to have laboured without being able to afford the expense of the private healthcare system.
Instead of comparing babies, I had ended up comparing myself... and coming up remarkably under-par.
On my walk back home I tried to console myself that money did not a good parent make. And besides, Frankie was one of the most attractive children in the room (Well, I would say that, wouldn't I?) and as I silently rejoiced in this one small victory, I felt something give way on the pram.
I was hit with a sinking feeling in my gut as I realised what had happened. My pram wheel had fallen off. The very one I'd earlier been cursing for its wayward behaviour.
I guess I'll be carrying Frankie in a Baby Bjorn carier next week.
Even if it is second-hand.