I recently (momentarily) fell victim to an April Fool’s day lark. At least I am really, really hoping it was a joke, otherwise this blog is about to offend someone very dear to me.
An old friend sent a message through our university WhatsApp group. We have all been mates for 18 years now so it feels like we’ve kind of always known each other. The prankster in question, messaged to say she couldn’t meet up with me on a particular weekend as she was attending a ‘Born Again’ experience with her husband and baby.
When I first saw the words ‘Born Again’ I immediately thought she was being baptised. This was absolutely fine with me. I’ve attended adult baptisms and despite not being particularly religious myself, I find them quite uplifting, spiritual experiences. A fresh start and approach to life can only be a good thing, right?
But no, as I read the message further I realised that this wasn’t what she meant at all. Here’s why – I quote, ‘you basically recreate the birth with (insert baby name) present and it ends up in a dance piece. Apparently it’s really therapeutic for the child and leads to much joy for all involved. They have actors playing the doctors and nurses, but you and your partner play yourselves.’
Holy shit. Is this for real?
So for a moment I sat and I pondered and I sat and I pondered. Maybe this is what she is doing? Reliving the birth as some cathartic process. Getting back to nature?
Then the self-doubt kicked in. Do I actually know this person? Is someone I know really going to go through with this? Am I a horrible person for thinking this is outright lunacy? Why would anyone pay to pretend to give birth again and let their unassuming, innocent child see the horror (apologies to anyone who hasn’t given birth yet – newsflash – it isn’t pretty!).
Am I allowed to giggle now?
I shouted out loud, ‘This is surely middle class parenting gone crazy, isn’t it? It can’t possibly be true.’ But for a minute I did believe her. I actually googled it just to check. I even panicked about how I should respond.
If it wasn’t for the reply of another old friend, agreeing what a wonderful experience this would be and suggesting she join in too, she totally would have had me. Thankfully there is no way on this earth that this said friend would fall for such bullshit – is there?
You see I’m not so sure anymore. I used to think I was a down to earth person. From essentially working class northern roots, my parents worked extremely hard to give us what they saw as a ‘better life’ – encouraging my siblings and me to get a good education and break into the middle class world officially. And so we have – well and truly. We are all hard working professionals with lovely families and comfortable homes we can call our own. Hallelujah!
Despite living in ‘classless’ Britain and being ‘middle class’ (ahem) there has always been a part of me that feels like I am masquerading somehow. I have never really felt the need to get caught up in any kind of pretension and quite honestly I couldn’t care less about my social standing. That is until I became a parent.
Parenting changes the game plan. I have seen so many people (sometimes myself included) start out as solid, feet on the ground sort of people who swear they would never be caught dead drinking green tea or talking about what they read in the Guardian on Sunday. They watch earthy, real talking comedians like Peter Kay and Mickey Flanagan and revel in their grounded attitudes to life.
Then they become parents and the world swirls around in a surreal and hazy game of what the f**k is going on. Insecurities buried deep spring out of their hiding places and a guilt like you’ve never ever known jumps out unceremoniously and shouts surprise! You are suddenly responsible for another human being – not a rabbit or a guinea pig or a budgie – a real, whole person.
It’s mind-blowingly scary and we all deal with it in different ways. Some take it in their stride, some who were previously angst ridden become chilled and serene and some walk around in a terrible state of panic.
Giving birth messes with your mind! And that’s where what I like to call commercial cunning comes into play. Companies know you are weak. They know you are vulnerable and they know in the middle of the night, when you are tired and spent from an evening of milk and tears and tantrums you are open to anything that will make you feel like a better parent.
That’s why I still kind of believe my April fool might be true. That’s why I keep checking the internet just in case she might be going through with this and I could actually have grandly offended her.
That’s why I am also thinking there might be a market for this ‘Born Again’ experience. Is anyone in?