So. This was it. Our first major trip as a family. Well, when I say major, I’m talking about 3.7km. I’m talking about a twenty minute car drive in order to have a walk and hopefully pick up a cup of coffee and enjoy a nice coastal walk. Doesn’t sound very major huh?
Everything is relative when you have a newborn. An everyday event such as leaving the house or popping to the shops becomes a sort of micro adventure in itself. One where relationships are tested as you realize that your wife has read all of the latest baby books and blogs, whereas you’ve gone into parenting thinking – ‘it’ll be fine’. It mostly is, but when it’s not, you are certainly made aware of it. Especially, by said wife.
So, after packing a bag full of nappies, clothes, change mats, drinks, food, wipes, hand sanitizer etc (believe me, the list goes on), you find yourself thinking ‘I emigrated to Australia with a similar amount of stuff than this’, but nonetheless you make your way down your apartment steps – one of you holding the baby, the other resembling a shopping assistant from Pretty Woman.
Your work has only just begun at this stage, as you’ve got to hoist the baby into the pram (which is locked up for fear of it being stolen in our apartment) and make your way down a few more steps outside the door. Having a child grounds you on many levels and that includes being appreciative of just leaving the house. I’ve spent a lot of time indoors recently so just to make the brisk walk to the car feels good and despite all the faffing around there is a positive vibe in Camp Hill as we strap in Theo to his new car seat and make off for the seaside town of Maroubra.
Theo sleeps in the car and life is good as we arrive and put him into our baby carrier. I love this carrier. Yes, we’ve all seen The Hangover and a secret part of me wants to re-enact the bearded character Alan’s look. As far as new experiences go, it’s completely unique. Whereas you will often find yourself hugging or cradling a niece, nephew or child of a friend, chances are they’ve never strapped their child onto your belly before. It brings equal levels of fear (is this thing gonna snap?) and elation (wow – no hands!).
Not long into the walk, approximately seven minutes I reckon, it starts to rain. And we notice the wind is pretty strong, and it’s colder than we thought. Hmmm. No worries, we’ll head to a local café where we once had the most amazing freshly baked croissant. When we arrive there are no seats available apart from outside and the que is out the door. Again, not an issue – why would it be? I’ve spent countless hours in Sydney in the past four years waiting for coffee and I’ve spent even longer eating/drinking in the cold (I am from England, after all). I give it no thought and spend the next fifteen minutes queuing as Katie straps Theo on and sits down to admire the view from the benches that line the windows of The Grumpy Baker.
A lot can happen in fifteen minutes, especially with a baby. When I return the wind is howling, Theo’s crying and Katie gives me that look. You won’t have met Katie, but you will know what look I’m talking about. It’s the look that says ‘It’s freezing, our three week old baby is hating this and I want to get the hell out of here as soon as possible.’ Jolly good. I also believe that secretly Katie thinks this is all my fault. History tells me I have a natural talent when it comes to correctly suspecting this.
So we drink our coffee and eat a (very tasty) muffin in the wind, with Katie bobbing up and down to comfort Theo who is wailing in the carrier. We mainly sit in silence and only exchange looks every time something blows off the table. I want to leave, Katie wants to leave and even though he can’t think yet, I’ll go out on a limb and say that Theo not only wants to leave but wants to know who is accountable for this sham of an outing.
We quickly drink our drinks and try to save the day by heading out on another walk beside the ocean. It’s pleasant enough and we laugh off the semi-disaster nature of our date. Katie regrets putting Theo in the carrier – apparently he’s in a pram at this time of the day so he’s not coped well to this change in his routine. As we make our way home in the car, with Theo still unsettled, I feel like i’ve been out all day. The truth is we left our house around two hours ago.
The other truth is that we’ve had, in a weird way, an enjoyable time. After all, this is the first time Theo’s been on a day trip and we’ve all survived. Survival is everything it seems in parenting and it will take more than a cool breeze and a coffee que to dampen our spirits. This journey is just the beginning…….