Being pregnant and running your own business has many pros and cons. For example, today is Mothers' Day. I am waddling slowly everywhere, I am in pain, my ankles are already starting to swell, and I'd quite like to be at home. But I am here in the shop, writing a blog in between serving customers, missing the Sconchlet who is at home. But that is the way it is. A sacrifice that is made so that on the flip side, I am relatively in charge of my own working life.
But being pregnant is especially full of pros and cons in a business where you are so in the public's view the whole time. Being pregnant in any situation is an odd one in terms of your own body and other people's reactions. For some reason, you immediately become public property. People touch your bump, when normally it wouldn't be socially acceptable to go up to a random stranger and start caressing their body. People comment on your weight, quite casually. People open up to you about their horror stories of their own birth experiences.
None of these are particularly wonderful things. And when you serve customers all day long, and it can be really tough. I've had days where there hasn't been one person who hasn't made a comment on my weight, which by the end of the day can make you feel a little fragile. Especially when many of these comments are perhaps not very polite! I got to the stage a couple of months ago where I almost put up a life size picture of me from the last pregnancy when I really did balloon (unlike this time, where I am actually roughly the same dress size, and am 'all bump' out the front, rather than a beached whale). Commenting on how bloated you feel a woman's face has begun to look is never acceptable!
And of course, everyone wants to know all of the details. Which is lovely. But when you have to tell every one who you serve how long you have to go and how you are feeling, and you are serving someone every few minutes, again, it can be hard. Not least when you are in agony and want nothing more than to crawl into bed (this has been a hard pregnancy, much like last time, and every baby's kick is excrutiating, and my hips aren't holding me very well, and I've spent most of the time feeling very sick), it can be hard to put on the smiley retail face. All of this is from a place of kindness on the customers' part, I know, and that makes it even worse, because you want to look pleased that they care!
And don't get me started on the horror birth stories! Whether you are talking to a first time mum, or a mum who has had 8 children already, recapping your terrifying account of how you ripped apart in 3 directions, isn't helpful to that poor woman who is trying to stay calm about pushing a giant head through a very tiny hole.
And of course, this all makes me sound like a grumpy, ungrateful cow. And I'm not. Because hand in hand with all of this, is of course, the positive sides of being pregnant so publicly. The love.
I have been genuinely overwhelmed by the support and love I have been shown by customers yet again.
We don't live particularly near to either side of our families, and that can be tough, particularly when expanding your family. My parents for example, are here this weekend, helping move the house round and fix things up that we have just not had time to get round to do, but with a looming birth, really need doing, but it isn't a case of just popping round the corner to help us. And neither of us (anymore!) are party animals, so making new friends is harder when you aren't out clubbing at the uni students' union of an evening. But this job (as I have mentioned many times before) has really made me aware that a whole heap of my customers and my amazing staff, are more than just that. They are friends. Knowing that if I really needed it (and there have been lots of times during this pregnancy, whether I am just too poorly to pick up the Sconchlet from school, or I am once again back in hospital unexpectedly) there is a whole army of people ready to pick up the pieces and make sure everything carries on smoothly is amazing.
And this was made abundently clear last Sunday, when I was told to arrive at the shop for 1pm on a day I had booked off... when I arrived, this was the first thing I saw!
Look at all that food! I'm not good with surprises, what with being a bit of a control freak (I know, I know, you'd never guess, would you?!) but this was so amazing!
And all my lovely Craft'n'Cake ladies, both regulars and ones I don't often see anymore, came to show their love! And all of my lovely staff were there too, and it was just amazing. Baby Bingo was in full swing here and it got surprisingly heated when there were about 4 of us all with only 2 squares to fill...
And the gifts! I have been so spoilt. Things for me, things for the baby, things for the Sconchlet...
I was one very happy mummy-to-be with a very excited Sconchlet!
Isn't it amazing, that my job has become somewhere where I both love to come, and where we are loved in return?