I'm aware that I blog a lot about my twins over and above anything else. You'd think that having experienced every aspect of parenting four year olds three times already that I'd be a bit bored of it all and that there wouldn't be much left for me to write about. Well, kind of, but sometimes something new happens and it actually helps me to write it all down. Last Sunday was one of those occasions.
The twins had their very first birthday party to attend at a local soft play centre. It was something that they had never done before and ds3 was not terribly keen. When we got there he was reluctant to go in but with a bit of gentle persuasion he soon followed his sister. Both of them clung to me for a while and then they were off! Sliding down the big slides and launching themselves into the ball pit then coming to find me to tell me all about it. It was fantastic to see them playing with their school friends. These are the children who they will be spending the next seven years with and their parents are the people I will spend that same amount of time with at the school gate. The twins are already fairly well known by everyone (by the nature of them being twins!) and so it's fair to say that we don't exactly blend in to the background at the school gate. I am already known as the one with five children, something dh cringes about as he is often referred to in the same way at work. I suppose I can at last share his frustration as recently I've noticed that beyond this fact nobody really strikes up a conversation with me about anything else, which is becoming tiresome.
For me attending a child's birthday party was the return to something I hadn't done for a good few years. I relished the time when my older three stopped going to parties, the endless ferrying round of children at the weekend and the painful small talk with other parents. As I mentioned, the parents of the twins' class mates are the people I'll be going through all of this again with for the next few years and so I know it is important to try to make an effort with them. I'll admit that while I'm not exactly overwhelmed with excitement at the thought of sitting on the sidelines at birthday parties this doesn't mean I'm averse to passing the time of day with people. On Sunday I ended up speaking to a woman whose face I recognised but couldn't initially place. She is the grandmother of one of the twins' school friends and we chatted about this and that, it was all very pleasant and she did not once feel the need to mention how many children I had. I later realised that she was the midwife who delivered my second baby, and for the record, I didn't mention this to her as I'm not sure that midwives like to talk about work on their days off (plus "you once stitched up my fanjo" is a guaranteed conversation stopper isn't it?).
I guess my point is that I'm not just about having five children, I can be interesting, and sometimes even quite funny. One person at that party saw that but more often than not other parents don't seem to. A conversation with me appears to be akin to having a conversation with the reproductive equivalent of the village idiot. I tend to play up to this a little, I'll admit, and I do have some fairly amusing anecdotes about my last pregnancy in particular, but mostly I'd rather it formed part of the conversation instead of the whole thing.
So, here's a little plea from me to any party-going parent. If I am to be stuck at the same kids parties as you for the next few years then I'd like to be able to smile and say hello and for that to be reciprocated. I don't want to be bezzie mates or anything like that but "How was your Christmas?" need not be followed by "Hectic, I don't know how you manage with five kids...", because the thing is that I do manage but it isn't all I want to talk about. You could talk to me about how manic it was in Tesco the week before Christmas or ask me what my husband does for a living or what I like to do in my spare time (the answer to which is almost always "drink gin") or anything else that is normal, because I can do normal. Please let's not talk about my reproductive abilities though. There is so much more to me than that.