I love my mum friends. In fact, they're not even classed as mum friends any more, they're just friends. They're categorised as mum friends as we all met when our now toddlers were a few months old. When our babies would just lay peacefully on the floor and we'd all coo and drink tea. It's a much different story now, as on the occasions we do meet up there's a bit more umpiring involved, cold tea and smaller pieces of cake due to a little person wanting it. Plus, with work and nursery schedules, getting a date in the diary is pretty challenging!
These are the friends who I met at a baby class, and since then have been there every step of the way on our journeys in becoming mums. Through the highs, lows, colic, poonamis, sleepless nights, firsts, lasts, laughs, tears, weaning (or early weaning for Cruise due to one of Clark's friends feeding him cake around 3/4 months old!) and everything in between.
It's not easy taking the plunge and deciding to go to groups when you first have a baby. It's a big step. You feel vulnerable, you have butterflies, you worry about not fitting in, that you'll be judged and that you'll sit on your own for the hour whilst the other mums chat as if they've always known each other.
But you wait, you'll push the door open to your chosen group and you'll be greeted with a smile.
It was easy for me, my mum had started a new baby signing class when Clark was around 3 months old so I just had to sit and wait for the mums to come to us. I knew a few of the girls who I went to secondary school with had had babies around the same time as me so I invited them along, also a couple of mums from our antenatal class and one of my sister’s friends. So I knew there would be some mums I could try and socialise with, I say try as I was still worried. The girls I went to school with I didn’t know that much about, and I was worried they’d bring up the dumpy, quiet me at school days (a memory I have buried). I was worried about seeing the antenatal mums again just in case they thought I was doing something wrong with Clark, and I was worried about seeing my sisters friend in case I'd always be labelled as her little sister. Look at that, all that worrying and there was nothing to be worried about. The girls from school were perfect, antenatal friends perfect and sister's friend perfect.
They were perfect because we were all in the same boat, newborns, bags under our eyes (sorry ladies if you're reading this... true though!) all worrying about the same things and if we were doing it right. But there is no right way. What works for you won't work for someone else, and to you new mums or mums-to-be you'll learn that.
So after the initial, hi my name's Abbie, this is Clark and yes that mad woman singing at the top of her lungs, bopping about with the birthday hat is my mother, I had surpassed my anxieties and that was that.
Every Wednesday afternoon I could guarantee a good catch up, cup of tea and biscuit. More mums would come along with the same 'what am I doing?!' face but after singing, dancing and doing the Hokey Cokey, they had settled in, they had smiled and most importantly they relaxed. Some became regulars and it's the regulars who I now call my 'mum friends'.
Over two years has past and to this day we still talk. We have one of those Whatsapp group chats where we arrange meet ups, evenings out and ask for advice. The advice bit is important, because believe it or not even when your child is two you're still worrying. My mum always says that you'll never stop worrying even when they’re adults and I'm beginning to believe that. Our Whatsapp conversations are great, but I’m not going to lie, sometimes I can be away from my phone for 15 minutes and come back to 35 unread messages, thinking it’s something seriously important but it’s just a load of “can’t do that date” for a cinema trip!
Our relationship has grown from enjoying luke warm cups of tea and going on bear hunts to toddler play dates, dinner and going out, out (yes, you can still do that once you've had children!)
So if you are a new mum and you're feeling alone do one thing this week for you - Take the plunge and meet new mums. You won't regret it.
To my mum friends, you know who you are (& this includes my pre-babies, pre-marriage, crazy dancing friend). You are the ones I can rely on when things get tough, when I need reassurance that I'm doing ok, when I need a night out, a slice of cake or someone to rant to. I know one of you will be there and I'm thankful for that, and I hope on the days you're feeling like rubbish with snot on your jumper you'll smile to yourself and think actually, I'm doing a pretty awesome job!
P.S To those of you who have familiarised with the above and have a few 'mum' friends, make sure to remind them how awesome they are, as you never know they may have had a hard day today!