A baby I don’t know is sitting in my daughter’s buggy. A red-haired little boy, who dribbles on the straps, looking content. His mother smiles, hands me a few notes, and walks away.
A little piece of my heart tears.
There is something really odd about standing in the sunshine on a perfect Saturday morning, selling chunks of your children’s babyhood for a few euros.
I look at the new mums milling around with newborns strapped to their chests, at the collection of baby-bumps cooing over minuscule onesies and ridiculously cute pyjamas. I remember being one of them, walking around NCT sales, oblivious of the middle-aged mothers selling their wares, absorbed in my own present of moses baskets and muslins.
Today, I have a son in middle school and permanent bags under the eyes. There will be no baby number 3.
As the sale closes, I stay behind with a friend who is expecting her first, and shows me her loot. As she beams and talks animatedly, I lose myself in the rush of pregnancy and newborn memories. The hopes, the worries, the excitment.
A man is walking towards us. I automatically look the other way and carry on smiling, but my pounding heart muffles all other sounds, as recent, painful memories in France collide with the bittersweet flow of UK pregnancies.
A year ago, Mr Nice and I walked down the same road, hacking out the menu for our evening barbecue with friends…
He walks past us, a stranger.
My friend doesn’t even notice.