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...
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
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'.