Who doesn’t love a coffee morning? Copious amounts of cake and mouth-watering pastries washed down with a frothy, hot beverage. Just the thought of them makes me feel all warm and fuzzy. It’s a time when you can exchange stories about whose kid has had the biggest meltdown that morning, catch up on local gossip or compare whose husband has been the most annoying/doting/helpful….take your pick. It’s something to look forward to after the horror of the school run, when your kids have refused to eat breakfast, moved at a snail’s pace (they have NO concept of timing), and whined all the way to the school gates.
‘Coffee Mornings’ are indeed a delight to attend and I love them … with one notable exception. If I have to take my boy, Ludoo, along to any one of my coffee mornings it’s a completely different ball game. I see all the other mums sitting around carefree and hands-free; chatting, laughing and generally having a ball. Meanwhile I am forced to retreat into a corner with Ludoo who demands that I feed him every single type of cake on display, provide juice at two minute intervals and basically be available to meet his every whim. And if I do try to make conversation, the poor recipient of my chit-chat will have to tolerate at least a dozen interruptions and minimal eye contact as I monitor my son to make sure he doesn’t break anything or smear chocolate cake over the cream-coloured sofas (it hasn’t happened yet, thank God). It’s not fun and sometimes I wonder why I bother.
But I do bother as I don’t want to be excluded and would like to maintain a reasonably normal life, despite being mother to a young child. Recently, there have been a couple of occasions where, much to my dismay, I’ve been invited to a coffee morning and been informed that children “cannot be accommodated ”. Excuse me ? Did you just say what I think you said ? It’s a coffee morning for heaven’s sake, not the ‘Queen’s Garden Party’ or a ‘Night at the Prom’! Since when did a coffee morning at someone’s house become so formal and exclusive ? It’s all getting a bit out of control …it’s ‘Coffee Mornings GONE MAD’ ! Yes, I know kids can be annoying, and yes, it’s unlikely that I will be able to make any meaningful conversation with my three year old there, but please don’t invite me and then tell me not to bring him. I am hardly going to hire a babysitter at 10am on a Wednesday morning just to attend a coffee morning. So what was the point of your invite ? Have you forgotten what it’s like to have young children, now that all your offspring are at school full-time and you’re living the dream of an independent life between the hours of 9am -3pm ? Your attempt to be hospitable by inviting me has hugely backfired by your inhospitable exclusion of my child. Plus, remember, the main person my kid will be annoying at your coffee morning is ME, not you.
So who would have thought coffee mornings could get so political ? I still love them and make every effort to go to them, even with Ludoo in tow (when he is not at nursery). I’ve just learnt to consume cake really, really quickly, speak in bullet points, have eyes at the back of my head and make a sharp exit when it all goes pear shaped. It’s totally under control! So let’s eat cake, be merry and keep the coffee mornings real.
Shazia is a writer/broadcaster and formerly worked as a reporter at Sky News and the BBC. In a previous life she was a Barrister and studied Law at the University of Cambridge.
But this young mother of 2 doesn’t pull the stops here. She has been involved with dramatics, community theatre and interfaith. She also secretly wishes she were 3 inches taller!
Her motto? ‘Be brave and the sky is the limit’! Shazia LOVES chocolate and finds solace in tea. Most things, she believes, can be resolved over a nice, strong cup of tea. Her lifestyle and parenting blog, Tea Solves Everything, is an honest and amusing take on the highs and lows of parenting. In it, she shares her hilarious insights into life as a harassed mum. Read more from Shazia here: