Disclaimer: I own nothing, except my own characters.
Nine months later:
Allie sat on the chair, one leg crossed over the other at the ankle as she surveyed the room. Some might call her expression haughty, but the effect was dimmed a little by the sleeping baby flopped across the triangle of her legs.
It was the first time she had come to one of these gatherings, and honestly the only reason she had come was because she had nothing better to do. Conversation topics had drifted from the right dummy to use, a sale at Target and the age to introduce solids, and she found it hard to contribute anything.
When the discussion shifted to work – and all concurred that they wouldn't dare venture back to work for at least another three years – Allie snorted, drawing attention to herself.
"I'm back in three weeks."
"Oh how could you!" the outraged consensus rose.
"Are you kidding me?" she exclaimed. "Stuck at home any longer and I'm going mad. My brain's going to mush." Her hand was gentle as she brushed it over Darby's fine hair. "There's no intelligent conversation to be had."
The group seemed to have missed the insult as they continued to attack her. "But what of your children?"
"What of them?" she shot back. "Three days a week in childcare isn't going to scar them for life."
She had an answer for everything, and soon the other mothers backed off, but daggers continued in her direction and it was unspoken that she was lacking in what she needed to be a good mother.
"I bet she's one of those women that keeps her last name," she heard someone whisper.
Allie resisted the urge to roll her eyes as she checked her watch and resigned herself to another forty five minutes of pain. Why she had thought this was a good idea was now beyond her.
There was entertainment to be had not long after when a commotion arose. Two children had a minor collision and as Allie turned, she saw that Tallulah was one of them. Her 19 month old was on the floor propped up on her arms as she looked at the other "injured" child in fascination as the boy paused a moment and then proceeded to weep hysterically.
As the mother of the other child rose from her chair with a distraught cry and raced over to comfort her child, Allie caught her daughter's eye with a warning before she could copy the whiny behaviour.
"You're fine," she ordered. "Up you get."
Tali thought it over and then complied, racing for the plastic slide, the accident already forgotten.
Meanwhile, the other aggrieved child continued to cry pathetically in his mother's arms, said mother trying her best to console him, even digging into her bag offering food bribes to quieten him down.
It was eventually the kid himself a few moments later who decided that he'd had enough of the coddling and toddled off to play. His mother looked up with a sigh of relief and looked at Allie.
"Where is your daughter?" she asked startled, blinking.
Allie snorted. "She's been on the play equipment the entire time." She raised a hand. "Trust me, she's fine."
"All children have scrapes and bruises. It's part of being a child," she enunciated slowly.
"Oh, but they could get hurt," another mother cried, the same mother whose daughter had sat on her lap for the past hour and a half.
"Oh please," scoffed Allie. "Enough with the helicopter parenting."
Whatever might have followed next took a distinctly different turn when Darby woke up. Sticking to her routine, Allie gathered him into her arms and reached for the flap on her maternity singlet concealing her bra. Within seconds, Darby was nursing at her breast.
Attention was back on her for a different reason. "I applaud you for breastfeeding," said a mother in a patronising tone."
"It's not an easy choice," agreed another.
"Especially with the marvellous developments in research into formula," concurred yet another.
Allie gritted her teeth, and ordered herself to smile and bear it. If she snapped and started killing, her old workmates would be after her. Nurse baby, burp, fix self up, grab Tali and then make an exit she recited in her head.
Just what mental asylum had she signed herself up for?
"Next time I decide to go to a mother's group, shoot me, will you?" said Allie as she flopped back on the couch later that night.
Nick grinned as he took a seat beside her. "Gladly." He paused. "Might make a mess though."
"You're lucky I love you," she said lazily as she propped her feet up on his lap. "Or else you'd never get away with a comment like that."
He leaned over to kiss her as he reached for the remote. "I know."
Finito... until next time.