It may have been the disappointment of seeing Kristy fit so nicely into my Snobsville surrounds that prompted me to finally go to a mother’s group meeting with Layla. It was not long before her first birthday and it occurred to me that our nanny Sharon was her only companion. Other than me I mean.
I had joined a mother’s group when I first moved to Snobsville when Layla was just a newborn, in the hope of meeting new people. But something about new mother’s in Snobsville brings out the…well…Sonbsville in people. I stopped attending the day we spent the entire morning talking about the virtues of Louis Vuitton nappy bags. Of course, now that I knew the inner workings of the Snobsville elite, the yardstick had most likely moved. Maybe I wouldn’t find them so intimidating after a year here. After six months at Grammar.
Still, I was nervous walking up the path in Lower Snobsville to Ingrid’s home.
Ingrid was the Martha Stewart of the group. She was more sophisticated than most Snobvillians, and preferred not to talk about her wealth. In comparison, some of my other Snobsville friends made a concerted effort to state that they don’t talk about things like money in an effort to imply that they have plenty.
She stood over six feet and was perfectly blonde and willowy in a Swedish supermodel kind of way. Her preferred style was belly tops and neatly ripped designer jeans showing just a hint of precisely tanned and lasered limbs and tummy. An affair waiting to happen Caroline had called her, and I could see why. She was perfectly nice, but somehow she was so laid back and at ease she made me feel uncomfortable.
She opened the door with her toddler Sian in her arms. Sian was attired in a vintage looking sheath, her hair stylishly messy with a flapper headband resting nicely on her forehead encasing her roguish curls.
“Hi darling! Soooooo lovely to see you.”
“Come in, the girls are all here. In fact, we were just talking about you!”
“Yes. It’s Layla’s birthday soon isn’t it?”
“Oh. Yes it is.”
We walked out past the tennis court, clubhouse and half Olympic sized swimming pool.
“Pardon the mess dear. Gardner has been quite ill.” The large, flat back yard was set with a gingham picnic blanket and assorted dishes set around a woven basket.
“It looks beautiful Ingrid.” No matter how sick he was, her gardner still did a far better job of pruning back buxus than I did.
“Oh Marley, you’re here! How are you dear? We thought you’d fallen off the planet.”
“Yes. That’s why we didn’t invite you to Alessia’s birthday. I thought you’d moved! Back west.” I brushed past the comment from Dianna after quietly noting that ‘back west’ was still in geographic range of a birthday invitation.
“No. Still here!”
“Sit down Marley. Would Layla like a snack? We have gluten free Macarons, dairy free banana loaf with organic almond butter – all home made so you know there’s no nasties.”
“Oh thanks. I brought rusks with me.” Ingrid and Dianna blinked at me.
“Rusks? Store bought ones? Aren’t you worried about salicytes and colourings? Won’t it affect her behaviour?” Dianna was looked genuinely shocked, as if I had just told her I was feeding my daughter a cocktail of heroin and ecstasy with a beer chaser.
The quietly spoken Amanda spoke up. “You know Marley, you really should think about taking her diet seriously.” She was on her phone as she spoke. “I’m sending you a link to my nutritionist. She’s also a naturopath. Changed my life. And Noah’s.”
“Oh. Thanks. I’ve actually got qualifications in the field of nutrition.”
“Oh that’s right.” She smiled at me with a mix of pity and despair, looking me up and down intently. While her soft tone seemed like it could be welcoming, all I ever felt from her was judgement, well intentioned or otherwise.
“Well, we’ve got a surprise! We’ve been talking. And we noticed you’re still using your old pram.”
“Yes. I used it for Luke too.”
“Marley, I do appreciate the sustainable approach you’ve taken in recycling old baby items, but we simply can’t have you pushing Layla around in that thing any longer.”
“Yes dear, it’s just not safe. Layla’s getting so big – does that thing even hold her weight anymore?” I frowned and stared at Amanda. “Not that she’s fat, I mean, they all grow at different rates. She just needs a growth spurt to even out those thighs a bit.”
Before I could respond with any more than a shocked expression, Dianna continued on. “Do you even know what brand it is anymore? Its so hard to tell. Nothing I’ve ever seen before. And how can you trust how safe it is if you don’t know what brand it was?”
“It was a hand-me down from a friend.” I regathered myself. “You know, back west.”
Ingrid chimed in in her breezy voice, “What we’re trying to say dear is that we’ve bought Layla an early birthday present.” With great ceremony Dianna marched over to the pool house and wheeled out a brand new pram with a designer patterned hood, dressed with a giant red bow.
“Oh, my goodness…” I was literally speechless. The group waited eagerly for my response. Dianna must have been out of patience, because she ran over to the pram and ran her hand along it as if she were presenting it to a game show contestant.
“Its a Bugaboo!”
“The best brand. And the new line has Stella McCartney designs on the hood.”
I sighed and remembered why I had left the group.
“Thank you. It’s lovely. Layla loves it.” Layla was waddling over to me.
“Oh, she’s walking.” Amanda was clearly unimpressed despite her attempts to feign enthusiasm.
“Alessia is very close. She’s more of a thinker than a mover though.” Her wistful tone almost made me forget that she had called my toddler fat just a few minutes ago. Almost.
Dianna was unfazed. “We need to talk about her party. Have you selected the entertainment yet? I have catering ideas, but we’ll need to settle on a theme first. The snacks will need to be organic obviously, so we’ll need to keep that in mind.”
“Oh, we were just going to do a family dinner-“ I stopped mid sentence after seeing their faces. There was that heroin cocktail look again.
I resigned myself to their micro-management of my toddler’s first birthday. In any case, a family dinner was no piece of cake. Getting Jason to be home in time for dinner on a given night would be much more difficult than catering a party for sixty people. Besides, I looked forward to seeing the faces of my mothers’ group peers after secretly adding a plate of freshly made fairy bread, (on white bread of course) to the party spread. Full of delicious nasties.