LONELINESS HAS MANY FACEBOOK FRIENDS text by Jay Keshani Have you seen this mum in your local park? Have you passed her by sometimes? It is lovely sunny day, mid June or late October. The wind gently moves leaves and birds sing their usual cheer up song. It's such a lovely day. She walks, pushing her baby in a pram at front of her. How old is the baby? Two weeks? Three months? One year? Older? Is it a boy or a girl? You can’t say. Baby sleeps cosily tucked up in the buggy. Who is this mum? Late twenties to mid thirties, dressed in sports gear or casual clothes. She looks a bit tired; she probably hasn’t slept much last night. Maybe the baby was constantly hungry or his first tooth is struggling to cut through. Despite the exhaustion, she’d managed to go out. Well done! Yet, there is something disturbing in her look. She doesn't walk tall with her head held high. She is not looking around and admiring the view like someone who enjoys the walk. The fresh air is not inhaled deeply and the sun's rays don't land softly on the face. She is hunched; her arms are closed to the front in a guarded position. She looks much shorter than she really is. Her head is bent; her eyes look down, missing all the beauty. Why is that? You ask yourself the question and it all becomes clear when you spot small object, hidden in her fist. It grasps all her attention. She is here, walking around the park with her baby, but really she is not. Where is she? Maybe she is in deep conversation with her mum, in another part of the world, who waits to hear about baby's first steps. Maybe she checks news from other people lives through magnitude glass of social media. Maybe she is sending messages to her husband and wishing he would be here, so she doesn’t need to walk alone. Maybe she plays a game or asks questions about baby eating plans on popular mum’s forums. Why does she do that? Maybe she feels entirely alone and confused in this huge park with this small baby. From the outside, it looks like her whole attention is drawn to this small electronic device. Do you know her ? Maybe you've passed her by a million times in your local park or maybe you meet her in your bathroom mirror every morning. I know I do. Maybe she is your sister, friend from work or a neighbour. Have you ever met her. I meet her often. I meet her everyday. On every walk I see at least one mum like her - a mum with a mobile phone in her hand. Mum, who is here in this park with me but really she is not. Mum, who is afraid or bored of being alone? She jumps into a virtual world, which became her safe place to escape to over the past few months, maybe years. She is an excellent picture of today's society. We are drawn into the virtual place, which grabs all our attention, and we don’t even notice how time passes us by. When I see her, I always want to run to her and give her a hug, talk to her and invite her to walk with me. We could chitchat and laugh together while our children play or sleep in their buggies. We could talk about our ups and downs of being a mother. We could count how many calories we would burn walking together and what kind of cake we would eat as a reward. We could talk about other great places to visit nearby or plan a trip, which would become our join adventure. We could stop for a coffee in the place around the corner or have a lunch on the picnic blanket in the shadow of those tall, green trees. ...And maybe we could become friends... real friends. But I will not run to her to give her a hug. She would probably look at me with complete lack of understanding, surprise or fear. I am a stranger to her and she is a stranger to me. If we had been five years old that wouldn't have mattered ...but we are not. In our grown up world people don’t usually hug random strangers. There are rules we need to fallow in order to not show everyone how crazy we really are. The painful truth is I can’t talk to strangers. Can you? Maybe you can. I'm too self-conscious, afraid to be judged and laughed at to do so. I'm scared of being rejected. If only I could get to talk to her through the world she is already in, through this little device she holds in her hand. Through virtual connection of people and places where it is ok to talk to people you don't know. I would say “hi” and I wouldn’t be a stranger anymore. I could bring her back here, to this moment, in this park. We could stand in front of each other and really talk with real human emotions not only cartoon icons. We could do things together which had not previously been possible. Walks, talks and coffee brakes. Our children could become friends too. What if she could meet many other mums in the same way? They could arrange local walks, different mums, and different parts of the city, every weekday. She would never need to walk alone again unless of course she really wants to. ...But then you could see that she enjoys walking alone. ... I have those thoughts every time I pass lonely mum during our group walks or my adventures alone. This is the reason I've kept doing voluntary work on Walking Mums for over a year. If even one mum felt less lonely through this group, it was worth it and it always will be! Walking Mums is not a one person business idea, is not an agency which organise guided tours around London for mums and babies, its not a blog spot or even chat group. In my dreams, Walking Mums is a tool which will help us to meet and communicate with each other in this highly tech focused world so together we can simply get up and go out for a walk.
This article, really spoke to me, especially as I recently wrote a post about making new mummy friends. It’s all to easy to get lost in the virtual word through the gateway which is our mobile phone and to ignore the world around us. If you would like to get involved with the Walking Mums project, then please head over to the website. It’s all free 🙂