Sunday, March 27, 2011


As I pushed the pram over the rough ground, I breathed in deeply and smiled to myself. This is what I had imagined, those days last year when the belly was pushing at my waistband and my feet were swelling. The sky was blue, the sun was shining down on us and a smattering of t-shirt clad youths were spread over the grass, making the most of the beautiful weather. Elsie let out a sudden cry and I frowned. That wasn't in my hazy daydream of spring. I looked round the pram hood and saw her looking out, big eyes taking in the springlike scene, thumb hovering ready for when her eyelids grew too heavy. She was ok.

I carried on, zigzagging along the park's many paths, trying to slow my legs to the pace of someone who has nowhere to go. This doesn't come naturally. I always walk as if I'm on my way to work, or late for a meeting. A man stood, juggling five balls and I watched as he kept them all airbound. I noticed the other mums, and dads, silently pushing prams or chatting in pairs, and wondered about their charges. The sun had brought a crowd of lunchtime sunseekers out around the fountain and I snuck a look at them as we circled the water. There were schoolkids, sharing headphones and snickering in small groups. Couples were lying on the warm grass, entwined in their own private bubbles. Colleagues chewed on sandwiches, ties loosened and jackets folded neatly next to them.

Elsie's eyes were drooping as I peeked around the pram hood, but her hands were neatly resting in front of her, her thumb nowhere near her mouth. I continued through the grand arch, and down the paths through the trees. The parrots' squawking and the distant cries of children kicking a ball around almost covered the faint sounds of traffic. I trudged on, round flowerbeds full of colourful bulbs, behind statues, through pathways lined with benches and under enormous horse chestnut trees, buds close to bursting.

The next time I checked, Elsie's eyes were closed and I was struck, as I am each time I see it, by just how peaceful she looks when she sleeps. My job done, I paused briefly on a bench, rocking the pram with my foot and looking around at the scenes around me. Her first spring is getting off to a good start.

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