Thursday, 29 November 2007

I'm the invisible woman

Well, it seems I have disappeared. I was standing outside school with the other mums and dads, all the children came out - except mine - and the school doors closed.

I could see my children and they could see me. But the teachers couldn't. I hastened to the door, raising a fist, ready to yell:"Give me back my children you blighters!" But Hannah and Rosie popped out with "Where have you been?" and "Why are you so late?" looks on their faces.

But I wasn't late, I lamented. I had been there for ten minutes, waiting patiently, while teachers flitted in and out, passing children to respective collecting people, plonking others onto buses and strapping them down. The teachers had even looked at me and smiled. I had obediently stood in the usual place, with the usual people, watching the usual hustle and bustle. They did not see me. I did not exist.

It's to easy to feel invisible as a stay at home mum. You can so easily get overlooked. You don't get any 'water cooler chat'. Nobody makes you a cup of tea so you can gossip round the kettle about the new girl in accounts. Days are highlighted with nuggets of human contact. The postman gets such a warm welcome he's beginning to look warily out of his van, throw the post into the battered old bread bin and reverse away as fast as his van can. I adore the nice man from Parcelforce too, and Graham who delivers all too infrequent Boden parcels.

Then there are the snatched conversations outside school. Lifebelts of adult contact in a sea of Playdoh and Tiny Tears. We talk about the weather, about getting to school on time and "Isn't it cold." We look up at the rain and say, ruefully, "Lovely day." Then we part and disappear from thought and from view.

I chat happily to the dog, who grins back, tongue lolling. He's a little taciturn for a conversationalist, but he never disagrees.

I don't mind it that much. Some days one wants more companionship than others, but becoming invisible was not something I had bargained for. When the school doors closed with my children still inside and the last parent left clutching theirs, throwing a pitying look in my direction, it really was the last straw.

"What about ME? ME? ME?" I wanted to yell, childishly. Why couldn't they see me?

I'm going shopping tomorrow. What I need is a high vis jacket. Or a flashing light for my head. Or perhaps something orange. Loud shoes. A noisily patterned jacket. Pink hair? Large earrings? Megaphone? "Hand over my children please and nobody will get hurt." Well, I won't anyway.


  1. Oh goodness I remember that PM - the sense that you had become somehow seethrough. I find myself on the edge of it again. My working life of the last 20 years or so has given me back a sense of visibility. But if I stop, and am getting older, will I just disappear?
    You sound pretty philosophical about it really!

  2. That happened to me in the last couple of years in an office when my new boss was a young, very beautiful woman and we worked in a very male dominated sphere. Fortunately for me she was a sheer delight to work for so I didn't mind too much!

  3. Oh no! I've felt like that sometimes too. It all starts with a dsappearing sense of identity (which of course we shouldn't have but you know what I mean) and then you start to fade away! It's happened to me a few times lately too - though your tale was actually quite funny, I'm glad the girls weren't distressed!

  4. Oh I can relate to those feelings too, and there are also times when you do want to be invisible as well. I too love it when the deliveries arrive, and oh the disappointment if there is no 'nice' post with my name on.


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