Wednesday, 18 December 2013


Everyday as I stroll down the high street or through the park with Felix in his pram I am struck by the fact that I have joined the formidable force that is the Chiswick Motherhood. Sometimes I feel I am but a tiny wave in a fathomless sea of strollers, a pawn in an army of prams.  

How do I feel about joining the buggy brigade of W4? At first I felt I had assumed an identity I was not ready for, as if I was wearing a mask. Due to the nature of my delivery I was not able to ride my bike for six weeks, and I ached for my more familiar wheels. If the bike is the hare; agile, efficient and speedy, the pram is the tortoise; cumbersome, trundling, slow. How heavy I felt the first time I stepped out with the pram. Used as I am to the nippy nature of my 'everywhere in five minutes' bike, the pram felt like a brace; holding me back. Ballast to my balloon. I longed to throw off the extra weight and sail off in a blaze of glory...

Six weeks passed and I have the all clear to ride my bike, and the first time I did I felt as if I was flying. Such speed, such efficiency, such ease of motion!!! And yet my daily pram walk is a firm fixture in the daily routine of motherhood and I have grown to love it. Gradually I have adjusted to pram pace. Nevertheless, I long for the day when I can secure Felix in his bike seat and ride off with him, the two of us united in our need for speed. Make no mistake; this is a baby who has already travelled a great distance 'in utero'. Being as I cycled each and every day of my pregnancy, until the very last afternoon, I have calculated that together we covered at least five hundred and fifty miles. Felix was the foetal eqivalent of Bradley Wiggins, and I'm sure that when the big day arrives he will feel it all strangely familiar, like a baby bird that flies the nest and finds that it knows exactly how to use its wings.

My musings regarding buggies have resulted in a strange phenomenon induced by constant close contact with a multitude of stylish strollers. I have nicknamed this 'pram envy'. I push a respectable Mamas and Papas pramette in light blue and grey, and I used to be perfectly content with it. However when faced with a confection of strollers in tempting ice cream shades - lemon sorbet, pistachio, raspberry ripple - something stirs in me. A monster with gleaming green eyes rears its head. All those shining Silvercrosses and Bugaboos with their matching livery of bags and accessories make me feel inadequate. Have I really started to envy other mothers buggies? Is this who I am ?


Less disturbingly, the other day London experienced a proper pea souper, a
truly foggy day when the mists barely thinned all day long. I loved every second. I have always adored fog; its photographic qualities, its mysterious nature, its ability to render the familiar unfamiliar. Just like its more boisterous cousin snow, fog is transformative. Ethereal. Transcendent. This being Felix's first fog I took the chance to have a really long walk. We took the river path, only to find the water utterly obfuscated by thick blue mists that swirled alluringly. A heron loomed out of nowwhere like an apparition, while ghostly boats slid along the white wafting water like the vessel in the Phantom of the Opera. All was muffled and wonderful and magical.

And then a phrase popped unbidden into my mind. Pram Face. A cruel and ugly expression from my school days, used to describe the kind of girl who leaves school early and seems immediately to be pregnant. Thereafter she produces a succession of raucous, squalling infants, each seemingly more unruly than the last. The poor girl is deemed to be a Pram Face due to the premature aging associated with having children when you are still a child yourself, and the copious cigarettes and cheap alcopops she consumes in order to bear her burden. So goes the theory anyway. It’s a mean and horrid little phrase and is terribly unfashionable and unPC – rightly so – but there it was, lodged in my mind like an annoying stone in the bottom of your shoe that refuses to budge.

So I decided on the spur of the moment to reclaim Pram Face, to resurrect her as an icon of motherhood. My name is Kat Kowalewska and I am a Pram Face. All of us pushing our buggies, whether they be box fresh and glossy or second hand and slightly down at heel, we are all Pram Faces. For every mother has her story, every mother has the right to hold her head high and say ‘I bear the burden of being a mother. I surf the dizzy heights and suffer the crushing lows of motherhood. Let us unite! For who am I to judge when is the right time to have a child, and who is the right person? Let she who is without sin cast the first stone. Pram Face and Proud'. 

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