Yesterday a bunch of mums in Firstborn's class lured me to one of their houses under false pretenses and threw me...
a surprise baby shower!
Doofus here didn't twig until it was spelled out clearly to me that the whole event was entirely in my honour, that no it wasn't really a coffee morning (as I had been led to believe) and yes, the pink balloons were also for me (I thought they were leftovers from a kiddie birthday party, er dur). Being the shy and retiring type I was initially quite pink of cheek and bashful but I soon got over it.
But I can't quite get over the sweetness of it. Here are a group of school mums who I've only known for just over a year and yet they go to all the trouble and expense of throwing me a baby shower. I really am very touched.
In contrast, I didn't even get a good-bye card from the witches at the old London school when we left for Dubai - although in all fairness this was probably because they were extremely pleased to see the scruffy back of me, having had to put up with my ghastly working-mumminess lowering the tone of the gilded SW7 school gates. I mean, come on:
ME: rubbish scuffed handbag, Primark jacket, looks cross even when happy due to crow's feet having run riot, reeks of Eau de Fag & Desperation, lives in small-ish apartment on wrong side of the school catchment area, nanny share just about allows career to limp along (with perpetual anxiety in case nanny calls in sick), children dressed in sale-bargain Gap casuals and Clark's clodhoppers, husband hot-looking (cue ripple of hair flicking and simpering when sighted on school run) but not zillionaire, hence yours truly having to work (gasp).
THEM: Chanel jackets, posh handbag collection (catalogued for insurance purposes), bespoke perfume from leetle boutique in Paris, face set like cement ("but so worth it, darling"), lives in grand mansion or at very least ginormous mansion flat plus second home somewhere rustic yet glamorous, "too many staff, such a chore to manage, sigh", children dressed (by nanny) in complicated hand-smocked starched linen Bonpoint, cashmere seperates and hand-stitched kid leather Mary Janes (girls and boys), sometimes works for fun ("I just can't stifle my creativity, it's what makes me me") or has little business selling overpriced witty accessories or hand-stiched baby clothes to other school mummies, husband looks and behaves like scary troll but (just about) redeems himself with his huge... erm annual bonus.
Talk about a mummy chasm. I might as well have spoken Swahili. Although to be fair there were a few other nice mothers who I became friends with - funny though, that they too were all working mums (with proper jobs as opposed to 'hobby' jobs) but we were all so ragged with the home/work juggle (even those who didn't work in PR and thus were paid enough of a salary to fund adequate domestic help) that one the rare occassions when we managed to go off for a coffee we could barely concentrate, so in thrall were we to the buzz of our BlackBerries and the possibility of an office emergency rising its ugly head.
So how nice it is now to find myself in fine relaxed form at the school gates with other human beings who have mastered the art of smiling, belly laughs, off-colour jokes and gossip that isn't peppered with one-upmanship. Is it the mix of nationalities that does it? After all, West London is hardly the last bastion of British-ness - they don't call South Kensington 'Little France' for nothing, y'know. Is it the expat we're-all-in-this-together thing? Or maybe I've just managed to land in non-snooty land?
Or maybe it's me. Maybe Dubai has forced me to ingest an enormous chill pill. Maybe it's the power of not working. Maybe it's having the time to hang at the school gates without twitching with fear when my mobile rings. The binning of the BlackBerry. Being happier all round. Not having stress weigh me down.
Tell you one thing though. You won't be seeing me in a Chanel jacket with a frozen face anytime soon. And Firstborn and the Small(er) One being seen in anything other than ratty old shorts and GAP t-shirts? Don't make me laugh...