Today, as I walked through the quietly buzzing streets of our little village, I felt branded, not unlike Hawthorne's heroine, Hester Prynne. In Hawthorne's epic novel, The Scarlet Letter, Hester is forced to wear a scarlet "A" emblazoned across her chest, to indicate publicly her shameful status as an Adultress.
The letter I feel I'm wearing is a Scarlet C, for Childless.
The other day was the first day of school here, and as I walked to the gym for my daily swim, I maneuvered through a swarm of adorable schoolchildren. It is such a cliche, isn't it? The "adorable, English schoolchildren."
But, it is true! They are adorable! In their little red uniforms. The girls in late summer gingham, red and white, checkerboard print, down to their knees, and just a touch of lace detail on their collars. The boys in red summer jumpers, little white shirts, and dove grey short trousers. Adorable.
Sonia, the Lollipop Lady, was there of course, ushering them safely from one side of the road to the other. She's magic! A cross between Mrs. Santa and the Fairy Godmother from Cinderella. Love her! (More on her later.)
One little boy, clearly starting his first day, was unsuccessfully holding back tears as he parted from mummy and daddy for the first time. Near by, another first day pupil, running with glee from his mother's side.
My own eyes filled with tears, as my senses were assaulted with a longing I have not felt before.
Later, in the Village Shop. A gaggle of "Yummy Mummies," gathered around sharing stories and a cup of coffee outside the shop, in the late morning sunshine. I felt awkward and out of place. In the words of DCI Gene Hunt, from the brilliant TV series, "Ashes to Ashes," I was "more anxious, than a nun at a penguin shoot."
As I have fallen in with the W.I., my interactions with the "Yummy Mummy Brigade" have been negligible. When I'm with my W.I. chums, I'm the youngest of the bunch. To tell the truth, I never even think about age in that context. I love my W.I. chums and that's all. I don't think of them as older, younger, what have you. They just are.
But, when I see the YMs, I am reminding instantly that time is not on my side. That there is a giant clock in the sky ticking above my head. Perhaps, to add to my dismay, I should start wearing a giant watch around my neck like the rap star, Flava Flav!
(Oh dear, this is getting quite maudlin indeed.)
On one hand I think I'm ready, and I know the DEB is (more than) ready for children. But, on the other hand, I do enjoy the freedom we have now. Pets, as much trouble as they are worth, are so much easier to manage in lots of ways!
So, that means even more "C's" for me: Cautious, Contemplating, and Comfortable.