Behind the window

I glanced out of the window and saw them sauntering by. The familiar faces chatting and laughing. The same people as usual trailing behind the group. I couldn’t hear their words, their voices lost in the impenetrable wall of sound that is a baby’s cry. Only one of their party was missing. Left out not through malice, but by choice.

Because now, she sits behind the window. Watching life go on around her, as if nothing had ever changed.

The changes you don’t expect

I suppose I never thought of it before having children. I knew things would change, of course I did. But you only think about the big things.

The sleepless nights, the nappies, the milestones. Time off work or giving it up completely. The hours spent at the beck and call of a mini dictator. How it would all be worth it to see that first smile, hear them say mummy and embrace those tentative toddler steps.

But somehow, I didn’t think of the little things. The subtle ways my life would change. How I’d be so exhausted from days spent living the moments of childhood with them. The way I’d fritter away the evenings doing mundane jobs, just so I didn’t have to do them when they were awake.

I never imagined that I’d be the one to say no. To turn down invitations so many times that people stopped asking. And I couldn’t have dreamed of watching those I was closest to in my former life walking down the same street. The same old gang, carrying on without me. As if nothing had changed, as though nobody was missing.

Not looking back

I felt suddenly sad that not one of them glanced over. Not a wistful smile or an acknowledgement of the way things used to be. No recognition of the footsteps that once echoed beside theirs. Because now, that one set of footsteps has become four.

Outside the window, life goes on. A car glides past, splashing up a wave of dirty water. A ginger cat sits on a windowsill waiting to be let in. Somewhere up the street a door slams. And then all is quiet.

Inside, the baby has stopped crying. The microwave pings and then silence. I listen to the sound of my own breathing. And life goes on.

Behind the window.

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  1. Beautiful. And so very true. It’s hard being left out when you have kids, but I think it happens to most of us – especially if, like me, you’re the first in your group of friends to have kids. My old friends have kids now, but their kids are much younger than mine, so we still don’t have a lot in common!

  2. Really poignant. I never felt left behind when I had kids though because I had already become isolated through ME. ME was the reason I was exhausted all the time. ME was the reason I just worked and slept. ME was the reason I turned down offers of evenings out so in the end I didn’t get asked, and was the person who sat at break time being a good sport listening to the other people in my department talking about the hen night and then the wedding they had all gone to that I hadn’t been invited to because I never went to nights out and bonded with these women. ME was the reason that when everyone else around me in their twenties talked about amazing holidays they had been on to exotic locations, I was struggling with debt and anxiety. Children turned it around for me. Something about having Ollie helped my recovery. I couldn’t keep sitting behind the window feeling sorry for myself, I had to go and get to baby groups, make friends with strangers, then later when I stopped working I volunteered to try to make sure no-one else was as lonely as I had been. My house became a playgroup, a crèche, a school, a coffee shop. A lot of the time I am a mombie, living on caffeine and adrenaline to get through educating my kids as well as keeping us all fed and clean, but I wouldn’t swap it for the world.

    1. So sorry to read that Maz but what a wonderful job you have done to turn it around and make sure other people don’t end up in the same position. Caffeine gets me through the days too!

  3. When you have children I think somehow life does move on. I ended up just finding new friends that have children because it just seemed to work better and it’s easier. The good friends, the ones who were real friends stuck by me though. This was a very poignant read and beautifully written Nat. xx

    1. Thank you Suzanne. You’re right, it does become easier to have friends with children of a similar age. It’s great to still keep in touch with some of the old crowd though.

  4. Such a beautiful post and pretty much sums up how I feel sometimes. It is really hard trying to keep up with everyone once you have kids but I always think that the important people are still there for you.

  5. Hi Nat, a wonderful description of how parenting can be, especially for a young new Mum. Maybe that’s why net curtains were invented? So we can watch, quietly from behind the window?


  6. Oh this is beautiful and so very true. Changes in friendship are something that I don’t think any of us are prepared for when we become parents. I was on the other side of this though – a lot of my friends had children before I did and I did miss their company.

  7. So well written! I find it hard too, my old friends don’t have kids so I don’t see them often and my ‘baby’ friends all moved on when their kids didn’t need them to go to bed, but as I feed mine to sleep I struggled to go out in an evening. 🙁 x

  8. Hi, what a well written piece, which I’m sure many of us can relate to. Time flies by and relating this to looking out of the window was very clever #mondaystumble

  9. Beautiful and true. It is difficult to feel included and it does make it hard. I have lost touch with a lot other than Facebook, but maybe in time, we will pick it back up xx #mondaystumble