Early motherhood, especially for a first timer is one of the loneliest times a woman can go through in my opinion. Ironically, something about bringing another person into the world can make you narrow your social circle somewhat.
Parent and baby groups were horrid and cliquey and I’m painfully shy/chronically awkward anyway so they didn’t work for me. There’s something about people in a room with only one thing in common staring at their offspring drooling on playmats that just didn’t spark anything lasting for me. When the clock struck 11, I’d be the first one flinging my baby in the pushchair and walk-running to the door.
The other girls I knew from school that became parents at the same time as me were either living far away, leading amazing, dreamy Instagram filtered lives or were the cliquey ones who were revered as demi-celebrity aspirational types who still wouldn’t go near me, the eternal nerd. I still got their sneering smiles at baby weigh-ins as I rolled in late, sweating, wearing a stained sweatshirt, bumping into every door I possibly can with my buggy. I am the Miranda Hart of mums, trust me, but I own it. They on the other hand with their iCandy baby perambulation systems and immaculate hair and flawless faces with not a scrap of concealer worn or needed would command the room with their weaning tips and hi-larrrrrious, cookie cutter stories from the front lines.
It seemed I had had a baby at the wrong time. I am the first woman of my generation on both sides of my family to have a baby so there’s no-one to offer much other than advice. Friendship and lasting connections with someone at the same stage as me were what I craved. I tried reaching out to old friends who’d had babies a while ago but they already had their networks in place so I didn’t fit. Most of my childless friends had deserted me or were scattered across the country.
As the earliest stirrings of post natal depression started swirling, I met someone which really lifted my mood. I well and truly fell into the Mummy-friend trap.
For those of you that don’t know, Mummy-friends are exactly what they say on the tin. Aside from the loathsome term, they are someone who you meet through having children and you talk about mainly child/baby related stuff. You share tips on which purées to shove inside your baby’s unappreciative gobs, you bitch about your lazy-ass husbands, you go out for coffee and repeat the same joke every time about how you should just ask for an IV bag of caffeine. You don’t go too deeply into each other’s personal lives or personalities outside of having children and tagging each other in wine-related memes.
It’s all very well and good until your babies start to grow up, your lives start to change and you just don’t need that sounding board anymore. I was obviously not there for the antenatal class about all this because with Mum-friends you realise that you don’t really have anything in common outside of leaky boobs and sleeping for 2 hours a night.
At first they are there for you but then they slowly fade away. They stop liking your social media posts or acknowledging your messages. You wonder what you’ve done wrong, you thought they were forever-friends but listen to me, you haven’t done wrong. You just aren’t convenient anymore. Someone else will come along that is. You were a crutch to get through early parenthood and that’s it.
I have found a couple of lovely friends through having children, don’t get me wrong. I’m not tarring everybody with the same brush. But I’m going to try and keep some lasting friendships before I have a second baby not on the pretext that the only thing we have in common is that we procreated. I am so much more than that. Losing sight of that is the biggest mistake I could have made. You owe it to yourself for people to meet and see you as a person first before the parent.
All these mum bloggers and writers on the subject of parenthood make such a big hoo-haa about going to baby groups and finding your Mummy-tribe. But don’t you fucking do it. It’s a trap.