The single mum and all her bags

Had a good day with Sarah. The plan was to meet in town, and I would watch the kids while she went Christmas shopping. She confessed that since she didn’t have hardly money, and the kids were too little to appreciate Christmas, she was going to get her presents at the charity shops. And this made my heart sink.

There is absolutely nothing wrong with charity shopping. I love it. (Except for underwear and shoes. Who buys that from charity shops? But they’re always there.) Anyway, nothing wrong with bargain hunting from the charity shop, I was raised on thrift store clothing. And, I guess that’s what made me sad.

Sarah used to always be stylish, fashionable and put together. Sarah from Uni would have never put her kids in second hand clothes, and I know it’s killing her that she can’t give her kids the best right now. It’s what my mum went through (although, not sure she was ever stylish), and I hate seeing Sarah go through it.

She’d mapped out some charity shops (there’s a charity shop trail) that could be walked to, and then another few that she could get to by bus. We met at a cafe near her starting point, and I took the kiddos. The plan was that I would occupy them for two hours at this indoor play area thing that had a special soft play room for toddlers. But before we went our separate ways, I handed Sarah am envelope and said, ‘Don’t know what to get your kids for Christmas. Guess it’s never too early to give money. You’ll know what they want.’ I had put £50 inside.

Sarah opened the envelope then tried to refuse it. I pushed it back, and she hugged me. My Aunt used to do little things like that for my Mum. I guess since Sarah doesn’t have any family (not really), I’ll have to be the Aunty.

The play area was a bus ride away, but as soon as Sarah left it dawned on me that I had no idea how to get a double pram onto a bus. And, let me tell you, it’s a fucking nightmare. In fact getting a child who is barely a year old and another who is a few months over two years old anywhere is simply tragic. The devices we use to haul these little people around are monsterous, and the number of bags, and snacks, and clothes, and toys needed to accompany them could only properly be transported by a Sherpa. I dropped things, ran over thinks, snagged stuff. And when it came time for a nappy change, the problem wasn’t the mess but finding everything you need in the bottom of a bottomless bag while crammed in a ‘family’ bathroom stall — which are much smaller when children are in tow.

But, thank heavens the kids were well behaved. Quite adorable and cute actually. Not too many tantrums. In fact, by the time Sarah met us after shopping they were asleep and I was enjoying a coffee in the cafe.

It dawned on me that she now had two kids, all their stuff, and bags of shopping to take home on a bus. Two buses actually. So I offered assistance. We headed back to her place, and I spent the rest of the day playing with the kids. Sarah napped for a bit while I fed them (bananas and peanut butter on toast, now that’s the kind of cooking I can manage). She woke up in time to get them off to bed, one of which did not want to go down as she was wide awake from sleeping too long during the bus ride home. So there were stories and cajoling. Then finally, down she went and it was time for me to have a glass of wine and for Sarah to have a pint of ice cream.

Her flat is tiny. The little one is in a cot in Sarah’s bedroom, and the other is on a small mattress in a box room. With the new baby coming, she needs a bigger place, and she’s on the waiting list. Sarah said she wasn’t necessarily tied to Erskine, she’s take a place anywhere, but Pete’s family had been really good. Babysitters at the ready, and it’s a place to go for the holidays.

‘I don’t expect Pete to be in their lives much, so it’s good they have some ties to his family. They’re nice people,’ she said.

Sarah was raising kids without help. Perhaps I should help. She can see if there’s a council house in Dundee. Maybe something nice in Tayport. I could be the ready babysitter. I love kids…I could…

I opened my mouth to suggest this plan, a move to Dundee, when I realised that I may not be in Dundee myself for much longer. I didn’t know how long I could stay working for Giles, and HP and I are…well, there’s a reason I’m currently living in Glasgow. Perhaps Sarah moving to Dundee isn’t the best idea.

In fact, I only got back from Sarah’s about an hour ago, and I’m exhausted. I don’t know how Sarah does it every day, and pregnant on top of it all.

I need to get some sleep. I’ll fill you in tomorrow on how I’ve come to be living in a bedsit in the West End of Glasgow.

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