You nervously tug on the corner of your top whilst trying to make sure your hair looks alright, wondering if anyone can notice the crusty stain on your top. Scanning the scene and others around you, sizing up the individuals who you like the look of and feel drawn to, you search for the people who catch your eye but look away again quickly, trying not to appear too keen. You walk over with trepidation, desperately trying to think of something clever and witty to say, convincing yourself not to turn back around.
Are you in a bar looking for a date? No. You're a lonely Mummy in the playground trying to find a friend.
The reality of motherhood can be very lonely - something I never contemplated before I had my son. Your time is so limited when you're a parent that one of the first things to go is your social life and this ultimately makes the loneliness that much worse. I always thought that as long as I had other friends with children then I would be ok. To be honest, I thought that as long as I still had my friends in general then how could I get lonely? The thing is, life inevitably gets in the way of friendships once you have a child - nap times, working hours, chores, sickness - and that's if you're lucky enough to have friends close by in the first place.
I'm not so lucky and therefore everyday I make myself go out in order to prevent me from morphing into Kathy Bates from Misery. I say hello to everyone I walk past, smiling and hoping they will smile back, just so I can feel visible to another adult. I make chit-chat with people in shops, all in the vain hope of trying to claw back some semblance of adult life and conversation that doesn't involve the words 'bubble', 'poo poo' and 'NO'.
I've lost count of the number of times I've wondered where my life is going or if I even exists as a separate entity anymore. After suffering from postnatal depression, going to baby classes took huge amounts of motivation, which I often didn't have. Even now, after the darkness has lifted, I still count down the minutes at these classes until the monotony is over, whilst trying to maintain a facade of interest for my son. The inevitable chit chat always revolves around the commonality of babies and I find myself screaming inside, 'DOESN'T ANYONE WANT TO TALK ABOUT SOMETHING NON-BABY RELATED?!? BOOKS, FILMS, THE EBOLA OUTBREAK? JAGER BOMB ANYONE?! ANYONE??'
When my partner comes home from work with stories from his day I smile and try to seem interested but I'm thinking inside how jealous I am of all the adult time he has, the grown up conversations he can engage in and the personal goals and achievements that make him feel satisfied as an individual and take him around the world.
So how do I deal with this? I remind myself how lucky I am to be able to spend all this time with my son, watching and helping him to learn and grow. I try and appreciate the here and now and not focus on the life I had to let go of to be able to be in the present. Having a baby can cause a huge shift in who you are and how you define yourself as a woman and I regularly tell myself that this new life has significantly more meaning and value than the old one. Being a mother exposes you in a way that nothing else can. Your children have the ability to make you face you who really are and learning to accept that person can be a difficult journey but one worth taking.
Find something that you love doing - whether it's writing, running, reading, jogging, yoga, cooking, photography, sewing, boxing - anything! Make time for yourself because you deserve it and you still matter. It might feel like you disappeared the day your baby was born but it doesn't have to be that way. You are not a shit Mum if you don't spend every second of every waking hour with your children.
Keep going to the groups that you like the most, or the park and, taking a deep breath, go over to that other Mum who you've been eyeing up. Ask for phone numbers and play dates - what's the worst that can happen? It's no different to handing your number out when you were in your early twenties in a nightclub - you didn't hear from everyone you ever gave your number to (unless you look like Penelope Cruz). Eventually you gave your number to someone so special that you let them knock you up.
Taking that little leap and exchanging numbers with another Mum might lead to another great friendship, if you let it.
Just try not to get knocked up again.