Mummies need friends too…

When a woman becomes a mummy, there are a couple of things that could happen.

The first is that she already has friends that have children.  Some are older, some are the same age…  She feels secure and confident that her ‘already’ mummy friends will be on hand to help and advise her.

The second is that she doesn’t have any friends that are already mummies.  They hang around for a while, but the new mummy has to turn down days / nights out because she has her hands full.  The baby is taking up all of her time.  Eventually, her friends don’t bother with the invitations any more.  The new mummy then loses contact.  Sure, one or two friends may stick around, but things are never the same.

Me?  I never had any friends to begin with (other than my husband), but the craving for friends was still there.

I have always said that I am not a people person, and I think that I that because I struggle to make friends.  I always have.

I like to think that I am an interesting person…  I have a wide variety of hobbies, interests and music tastes, so I am sure to have something in common with near enough everyone.  The only thing that I have never been in to is going out, clubbing.  Even when I did used to go out (ages 18 to 22 – or there abouts), I was never in to it.  I only ever went to keep in with my ‘friends’.  I think it’s because I struggle with what to say.  I just seem to ramble.

I actually made a friend a few years ago…  She was just a couple of months older than me, and we had a lot in common.  She didn’t have any children of her own, but two step-children.  We had dinner parties together – at each others houses, had days out together, and even went on holiday, camping, together.  It was all great fun, and I loved being able to talk to another woman – as a friend, rather than family.

I think when you have friends who are family members too, you feel slightly cautious about what you can and can’t say.  I think you’re slightly afraid of who else may hear within your family.  Well.  That’s how I feel anyway.

However, my friendship didn’t last.  I made the mistake of trying to make family friends, rather than a friend for just me.  My husband and her husband clashed.  It wasn’t because they had too many things in common…  It was their personalities.  It all came to heads when I felt like my friend and her husband were trying to ‘dig deep’ in to my personal life.  It wasn’t that I wasn’t willing to talk, but they were asking questions, trying to turn me against my husband.  I still haven’t figured out why.

When I fell pregnant with Donut, my cravings started again.  I’m not just talking pregnancy cravings either, ha ha.

I started posting on a parenting site called Netmums (this is an international site – not just for parents in the UK), asking for friends with children of a similar age to mine.  I received a few replies.

One reply came from a girl who lived a 10 minute drive away from me.  We shared ‘essays’ of messages, back and forth for weeks…  Then all of a sudden, she just disappeared.  I did message her to ask if she was ok, and I’m still waiting for a reply from May.

Another reply came from a lovely girl who lives down south.  Not what you call a conventional friend, as the chances of us meeting are minimal.  However, we have been corresponding for months now, and each email is long and chatty…  Exactly what you are looking for with an epal 🙂

Two more replies came, and I have met both ladies.  Both live a bit of a distance away from me, but are definitely not out of the way.

G lives about a 30 minutes drive away, and she has a lovely little boy who is almost 2.  Gning got on great with him, and we are planning on meeting again soon.

A lives about a 45 minute drive away, and her lovely little man is just 9 months old.  Talk about being a smiler!  Gning wasn’t with me when we met, but Donut was.  I’m looking forward to going for another coffee with her tomorrow.

So, why do mummies need friends?

I think it’s necessary.  Not just for the kiddies to meet and play with each other (although that is a very important reason in itself); but for women to be able to get out of their usual routine of just looking at the same four walls, day in and out.  It’s important to socialise…  Humans – no matter how much of not being a ‘people person’ they are – need companionship.

Sharing a general interest, going for days out, crafting together, baking together…  Offering support and advice.for each other.  No matter the reason, having a friend is important.

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Dear soon-to-be Mum of two

Dear soon-to-be Mummy of two,

I don’t know you. But I feel like I do.

I used to be you.

And I was terrified.

I thought of you today. I don’t know your name, and I don’t know what you look like. But I still thought of you. I wondered if you were holding your breath as you waited for the home pregnancy test to deliver your fate, not sure if you should be thrilled or petrified. I wondered if you are finding it hard to chase after your toddler because you are so exhausted from the constant morning all-the-time sickness. I wondered if you were crying over your child’s bed tonight, trying to figure out why you ever thought it would be a good idea to “try again”. I wondered if you looked down at your swollen belly with guilt, thinking, “How could I POSSIBLY love you as much as I love my firstborn?” I wondered if you looked at your firstborn with guilt, thinking, “How could I have done this to you?”

I thought of you … because I WAS you.

And I wish I could give you a hug and tell you that it’s going to be OK.

Because it is.

I wish I could tell you that from the moment your second child enters your life, you will feel strong and confident, and that that feeling will never go away… But I can’t.

I also wish I could tell you it was going to be easy…  But I can’t.

Because it isn’t.

Tough times are ahead of you. You’ll have moments when you’re trying to feed a hungry baby and cajole a grumpy toddler onto the potty seat and you’ll wish you had three extra hands, a second brain (or even just a single not-so-sleep-deprived one), and a carton of ice cream that no one expects you to share. You’ll likely leave at least one restaurant in tears, vowing that you’ll never again take your children out in public. You’re going to spend a lot of time breaking up arguments (and/or perfecting the art of tuning them out). You’ll wonder if you’re going to be able to sleep again, or shower in peace again, or carry on a thoughtful conversation again. For a while, you’re going to be wiped out.

I can’t tell you it’s going to be easy.

But I can tell you this:

I can tell you that one day your younger child will be trying to tell you a story but will leave out a crucial detail. And that, confused, you’ll turn to your older child, who will be able to effortlessly bring you up to speed. And then your world will stop spinning in one breathless moment as you realize that those two…  They complete each other.

I can tell you what I wish I could tell myself. That breathless moment? It will come. And it will make it all worth it.

That’s what you need to know, Mummy. Today, you worry about what your pregnancy is taking away from your precious only child. You worry because you’re too sick to cook wholesome dinners. You worry because you’re too tired to go to the park. You worry because trips to the library are being replaced with Netflix binge sessions as you collapse, exhausted, on the couch. You worry and you worry and you worry, because that’s what we do as parents. We worry.

But today, worry a little less.

This season of life…  It’s just a season. And everything that you’re “taking away” from your child will be returned tenfold. One day you’ll wake up and find your kids playing together. You’ll walk into the room and they won’t even notice you’re there because they’re too busy having fun together. They’ll be giggling and building and discussing and making memories.

That won’t be every moment of the day. It probably won’t even be most moments of the day.

But these moments will come. And they will make it all worth it.

So hang in there, Mummy. Be brave. Worry a little less.

Because life is about to get so much better.

I need to tell you something… You smell.

New mummies, don’t get mad at me, but I’m about to say some things that might be a little hard to hear. Just listen. I’m coming from a place of no judgment. I’m coming from a place of love. I’m saying these things because you need to hear them and because I care about you and because your friends can’t tell you because you’re a crazy person right now…  Believe me.  I know all of this, because I’ve been there.  Twice.

5 Things New Mummies Need to Hear:

1. You need to put the Internet away for a at least the first month. Your baby doesn’t have that rare illness that you’re reading about. You don’t need to read that story about the mum dropping her baby, or forgetting it somewhere, or a random cat breaking into the house and eating the infant. You don’t need to ask Facebook what formula, or nappies, or sleep training method is right. People have been having babies for a *couple* of years without the Internet, and it seemed to work out just fine. Phone a friend.  Phone your mum.  Because, generally speaking, people on the Internet are arseholes.

2. No, we won’t vote for your baby. Your baby is absolutely the most precious little thing on the planet. We get it, but no one is going to vote for them for the cutest baby contest – even if it does mean you could win a all expenses paid trip around the world for two. Send the link to your parents and if they can figure out how to actually vote, you’re set, because they were the only people who were going to vote anyway. You’ve just saved yourself a tiny little shred of embarrassment. You’re welcome.

3. Sweetie, you stink.  I’m sorry, but if you think that you stink, it’s more than likely because you do.  It’s true.  I’m going to blame it on the hormones, or maybe it’s stress sweat, or maybe it’s because you haven’t showered in days, but you smell a little ripe.  Take a few minutes for yourself and go take a shower.  Please.

4. If you’re feeling crazy, it’s because you are. You’re supposed to be a little crazy right now. You’re probably a little nervous, excited, scared, and exhausted, and you have hormones bouncing around like ping-pong balls. It’s ok.  Honestly.  Just focus on that little model baby of yours and cry in the privacy of your own shower.

5. You’re doing great and you WILL feel normal again one day…  Not today, but one day.  I still quite often look at people whilst I’m out and about, and thinking “LOOK AT THEM! Walking around all normal! Will I ever walk around like a normal person with normal thoughts? Will I ever enjoy a glass of wine again? (Not that I drink anyway, but…)  Will I ever sleep, like REALLY sleep, and not just sort of drift?” It all happens. You sleep. You drink. You walk. You find a new normal-ish…  Just not today, but it will happen. I promise.