I already fessed up on my hideous first attempt to make ‘mummy friends’ (cringe, I hate that term, sorry) : (the sausage roll mum) . It’s three and a half years on, and I’d hate for you to be imagining me still sitting home alone (with the kids obv), sobbing into a sweaty pastry. So here’s the rest of the story.
I didn’t always crave ‘maternity leave buddies’. I have a vivid memory of telling people pre-baby that I didn’t need new friends – I barely had time to catch up with the ones I already had. Yes, maternity leave would be a time for me to catch up on missed socialising with the pattering of existing friends who had already made the leap into parenthood. Days would roll happily from one coffee morning to the next, and all would be wonderful.
And initially, that is what I did. And my wonderful friends were amazing – especially in that first few weeks daze when I needed someone to cuddle the baby and make me a decent cup of tea, or let me have a shower. But, what I came to learn is that having children 2 years apart, 6 months apart, 4 months apart doesn’t equate to going through things together. It’s not much fun taking a newborn to soft play. Mums with their second kids were busy doing nursery runs, and after school clubs. Lots of them worked various days of the week. It’s hard to join in with conversations about weaning when you’re still battling with breastfeeding throughout the night. Most of the questions I asked them were answered with ‘I can’t really remember, it seems so long ago’.
So, I started to think about venturing outside of my comfort zone.
I never signed up to NCT classes, so the obvious place to start was the local Surestart centre. I was fairly familiar with it as I was walking to get baby weighed every week (how I laugh now – every week! I must have been bored…). I would sit in the waiting room, no where else to be, happy to be 15th in the queue, making small talk with other tired looking mums. Yet, none of those friendships blossomed to second base. Language barriers were often an issue, but I still to this day see the same lovely Eastern European Mum I saw so often, who spoke no word of English, and we are still as excited to see how much our girls have grown; A friendship formed in silence.
When little teeny TG was about three months, I signed up to the free baby massage course. I met a nice group of Mums there, we giggled over our naked babies weeing everywhere and exchanged stories of feeding, sleepless nights and of course, the births.
As the 4 week course grew to a close, I realised I’d miss it, so decided to see what else was on offer. I showed up to a weaning talk (3 months too early, standard MMT) and as always plucked up the courage to chat to anyone else looking as lonely as I felt.
That was where it began. Supermum number 1 and I arranged to check out the local Babytalk session that Friday. It was a date.
Not sure what to expect, I gingerly arrived and spotted a familiar face – a friend of a friend who’d been due near me. We sat down together and as my date walked in, we both said hello in unison. It turned out they were also friends of friends. At that moment, supermums became 3.
The babytalk crowd weren’t all everyones cup of tea. We made a few frenemies (we are girls at heart after all) and we sort of liked being on the outside of the in crowd. Our little group was however always open to all misfits, and it wasn’t long before we became friends with another mum, who was a little nervous and feeling too old to fit in with the others. She’d almost given up on making friends at these shindigs, but was chuffed to bits to meet us.
She introduced us to her neighbour, whos little lad was the same age as our tots. We immediately bonded over a heartfelt discussion on when to start weaning. It was friendship at first sight.
And so we grew, an eclectic bunch, often found at the local park if weather anything other than freezing or torrential. Occasionally opening up our doors to allow our houses to be trashed. Summer outings a plenty. Lots of big ideas which never happen. Always there for each other on the end of a whatsapp group. A clique? Probably? Exclusive? Never.
Supermums features all sorts of women, from all walks of life. Lawyers, stay at home mums, reluctant supermarket workers and city chicks. Mums of one, two (not yet three!); with between us stories of IVF, traumatic births, miscarriage, stillbirth. Our children have become firm friends, as have the ‘SuperDads’. We have managed a few nights out, but most of the bottles consumed have been by the juniors of the group, of the white variety.
None of us have replaced our existing friendship circles with each other, but if becoming a Mum taught me one thing, it is that your children will bring you new opportunities and happy times, if you are open to them.
If you are reading this, and feeling lonely as hell, don’t give up. Check out your local surestart centre activities – they’re free and you might just find one person you connect with. Maybe not the first time you go, but don’t give up. If you are a bit daunted, try and find someone you know to go with – maybe a friend of a friend had a baby the same time as you? Get a message to them, ask them out on a date, they might just turn out to be the start of something wonderful.
Did I ditch all my old friends? Of course I didn’t. They were always there, but the Supermums certainly plugged the gaps (which there were many of, mostly midweek mornings). As our kids have grown from newborns to small people, that gap I originally talked about (4 months, 6 months, 2 years) seems to have disappeared between them, they’re just a bunch of children who will all happily wrestle each other regardless of age. I am so very grateful to be sharing family memories with my lifelong friends, who have and will always be there for me and vice versa.
But, I will also always be eternally grateful for the Supermums, for helping me not feel isolated in my anxieties as a new mum. For sharing those special firsts with me; first teeth, first steps, first day back at work. For letting us be a part of their lives, and being so very welcome in ours. As our kids all venture off to new schools and meet new friends, I sincerely hope we might hold on to the bonds we have formed.
Once a supermum, always a supermum.
Thank you so much to Sure Start, a fantastic resource, changing the lives of families for the better throughout the UK.