I’ll be honest with you, when I found out I was going to be a mum, I never really saw myself as a mum with other mum friends. The thought alone of going to mum & baby groups filled me with dread. I knew enough parents and had read enough blog posts to know how competitive and judgmental other mums can be. And that’s just not me.
I have never been very competitive in any aspect of my life. Even when I was good at high jump in school I never competed, it’s just not in my nature. If you add to that the fact that I’ve never really fit in, even in my close friendship groups I’ve always been the ‘different’ one, then I’m sure you can understand why I had a strong feeling that I would be throwing myself into the lions den by walking through those playgroup doors. Who would do that to themselves?
I did sign up to baby swimming with Luca though, purely because I have a fear of water. I didn’t want Luca to inherit that from me. It wasn’t as scary as I thought, meeting the other mums I mean. I did even meet a few there that were really lovely. Although we got along, and I had a few mummy dates with one of them, it never really progressed into proper friendship. There were also remarks like “Oh isn’t he walking yet?” as the others toddled around the changing room whilst my lazy lump never moved, and “Oh I’m so glad I didn’t have to give mine a dummy” when I shoved Luca’s in to keep him quiet long enough for me to get dry before giving him his bottle. Let’s not forget the shame for giving him a bottle when the rest of them were on the boob (but that’s a whole other post). All these things were said with a smile but only to disguise the bitchy undertones.
When Luca started to creep towards pre-school age I also started to dread the school run. We all know about playground politics and cliques of mums. Those mums scared me a little and I didn’t want to be one of those mums. Whilst we all waited for the kids to be let out I did make small talk with some other parents, but again I never really felt that comfortable.
Halfway through Luca’s pre-school though he made a proper friend, Rowan. I used to chat to his mum at school pick up but only small talk really. Rowan and Luca started to ask if they could play together and so after much persuasion I agreed to a play date. The initial agreement between myself and Claire was to meet up for an hour at a local soft play. I initially said I could only go for an hour in case I hated it and we didn’t get on. That way I could leave without feeling guilty or making an excuse. Turns out I needn’t have worried. Three hours later we had to leave so Claire wouldn’t be late picking her other son up from school.
Since that initial play date we have had many, many more. We get on really well, she doesn’t take her self seriously at all and we have a similar sense of humour. Mainly sarcastic.
For the first time ever I actually have a mum friend. Like a proper one. Not a mum friend who I was friends with pre-kids.
She has since introduced me to some of her other friends. Also mums from school who live close by.
We have had a couple of nights out and these girls are an absolute howl. They make me laugh till my jaw aches, get me into all sorts of trouble and make me feel a little bit like the old me. The Franki I was before I was a mum. I think the tequila and 2am mile long walks home from the pub help.
But also, they get it. They get what it’s like to be a mum. What it’s like being so tired you don’t even really know your own name. And how as a mum you are no longer able to go to the toilet on your own. Or how trying get your kids out of the door semi-presentable and on time for school should be an Olympic sport. And let’s not even discuss getting yourself ready. They get what it’s like to juggle life as a working mum and all the guilt that comes with being a parent. They get it all.
These ladies are also the kind that text you the night before non-uniform day to remind you. The ones who lend you a pound for the bake sale when you forget. The ones who tell you that you have toothpaste round your mouth or your top is on inside out at the school gates with no judgment.
It’s amazing to have a group of friends who you gel with but who also totally know what it’s like to be a mum. Friends who make you feel like you are normal and who share their secrets and their parenting fails with you so you don’t feel like the only mum who hasn’t got all her shit together.
So I urge you to start watching the other mum’s on the school run. Look for the mum who is doing the wet finger face rub. Or the mum frantically searching the school bag for the reading book due back that day. Reach out to them. You never know, they might just be the kind of mum friend you need. And trust me, you need some.