Into Carlton

The walk into Carlton started out really well. The sun seemed to clarify the icy day into infinite particles, Madeleine was happily rugged up in her pram in front of me, and Oliver the dog was dancing around from one side of us to the other, sniffing everything and just relishing in the verb WALK. I had my camera around my neck and was indulging in one of those mornings during which you stop and smell the roses, then you photograph them, and then you photograph them again from a different angle. I was noticing everything. Like, “Ooh, just LOOK at the vivid yellow of that leaf against the pale-blue winter sky,” I’d say to myself. And my Self would respond, “Well, what did you bring the camera for?”So it took an hour and a half for us to get to the post office (normally a 45 minute walk), and Madeleine was a perfect angel the entire time, even when we bumped over cobblestones that were so lumpy and old (“Ooh, I’ll take a picture of those”) that she almost got whiplash in the pram.

When a soccer ball escaped from a game in the park, I was able to hold onto the pram, hold onto the dog, and kick the ball more or less accurately back to the grinning players. I said to myself, “Self, I am Supermum!” And Self said to me, “Right on, sister.”Then we got to Lygon Street, packed with restaurants with tables spilling out onto the pavement and crowds and happy people dining, and THAT’S when Madeleine decided she’d had enough and started to scream. And scream. And scream.

Picture me navigating a pram with one hand, holding onto a dog lead with my little finger, jiggling a screaming baby on my chest with the other hand, and trying to make my way through a narrow path between the restaurant doors and all their outdoor tables and chairs, all with diners and restaurateurs alike giving me the evil eye because my howling child and smelly dog were ruining their peaceful lunch.

I was thinking, if Madeleine would just stop crying for five minutes, I’d be able to pick a restaurant, sit down outside (because of the dog), order my lunch and feed her. But of course she wouldn’t stop crying for five seconds let alone five minutes, and the waiters who stand in the doorways and normally try everything bar physically dragging you indoors to get you to eat at their tables wouldn’t even catch my eye on this day. Oh, I am so green as a mother. Why did I not think ahead? From now on, if there is not a guaranteed place to feed or change my baby along the way and at the destination, I refuse to walk more than 20 minutes away from home in any direction. And I definitely won’t take the dog with me. Poor Oliver.

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