The beginning of Summer is always a slightly strange time for me. My arms are suddenly out in the open after several months of being safely covered by jumpers and jackets, and I'm always more aware of people looking on their first outing, but I haven't actually felt vulnerable about it in a long, long time. Today was different. Today I did feel vulnerable. In fact, I almost felt ashamed, and there was only one thing different to this time last year. Today I was pushing a buggy.
Today was the first time that I have been outside among people that I don't know with my arms out, just me and the baby. When it was just me, I wore my scars like a badge. I was proud of how far I'd come and their obvious age showed strangers just how strong I was capable of being. But today, as a mother, I worried that strangers were looking at me and wondering if I was fit to care for my son, what with being mental and everything. Suddenly it was as though my scars were still angry, red and fresh; testament to my unstable state of mind, rather than evidence that I had gotten better.
In my heart I know that to stare is just a reflex when someone wanders past wearing an arm full of obvious self harm scars, and I doubt that the buggy really made one jot of difference to the opinion of those looking, but it sure made a difference to me. It seems that, as a parent, I'm going to have to get used to them all over again.