We went to a 40th birthday party on Saturday evening. Joe came along (naturally) and there were lots of other parents and children there.
I saw someone I haven't bumped into for a while. She's part of the group I opted out of, although I actually like her very much. And yet I still came away from the party feeling... flat. She was full of questions about whether I'd got a job yet, and when was I going back to work, and wasn't I a bit concerned that Joe wouldn't 'come on' quickly because he's not going to nursery.
She also asked what we'd bought him for Christmas and went on to list the very many things they'd bought for her little girl. There seemed to be some assumption that, because I'm a stay-at-home mum, we must be desperately short of money. She suggested I buy him things from Home Bargains.
All in a friendly, helpful way.
The fact is that we're not struggling financially (no more so than many people at the moment).
Joe has lots of lovely things: bought, made, given. Like the little Polish money box which has his great grandad's buttons from his army uniform inside.
And crayons. We like crayoning.
And little things found at flea markets.
And a new jumper from his auntie in cheery red.
He loves his string of jingle bells (hanging on the tree in his room).
And how sweet is this little toadstool night light? It used to belong to Jay when he was little. It has tiny ceramic mice living inside it.
Anyway, I was annoyed with myself after the party. Annoyed that I felt the need to explain and justify my decision to stay home with him. Annoyed that I let other people's well-meaning comments get to me. Because Joe's coming on very nicely, thank you. Our finances are our business. And staying home with him is my decision. We live simply, are happy and our choices are ours, just as other people's choices are theirs.
I'd love to have more friends who understand that. In the meantime I'll stay away from those who make me feel bad about myself.
Joe's Christmas will be merry and bright and full of little things which show he's loved.