It’s a weird moment when you realise that the bulk of your friends are – for a few weeks and months anyway – on a different wavelength to you. Unless you are lucky enough to have pals who are having babies around the same time as you, when you’ve just had a baby you are usually faced with that prospect of having to find new friends to hang out with while you are on maternity leave.
Well, I found myself in that situation anyway. While there were a few folk I knew who were having babies at the same time, they were usually managing Baby Number 2, which is a different league. It was like someone was already on Season 3 of Game of Thrones, when you were just tucking into the first episode. I realised quickly, I was going to have to venture out and find folk who didn’t know what the Red Wedding was. (For anyone who is not a Game of Thrones fan, sorry for all that – just keep reading, it’s all good. And start watching Game of Thrones, it’s great.)
That apprehension about going to your first ‘new mum’ event feels a lot like the first day of school again. It could be breastfeeding club, or some organized mum and baby event or just meeting up with a friend who got other pals on maternity leave. It’s still that kinda funny sweaty feeling of trying to make new friends – well it was for me, regardless what I tried.
I have to say, I was dreading this bit of being a mum – I had presumed that there was going to be a lot of fake, forced chats with women who were going to be only interested in out-mumming you with their mumminess. Eugh. Not what I was into at all.
But I have to say I was pleasantly surprised. I recall cracking a joke very early on at my first breastfeeding club and watching the women who roared laughing and the others who stared at me in horror. I realized quick that the laughers were my people. And at least there were a few to make them my people. And then before we knew it a Whatsapp group was set up and we were away – questions posed at any time of day (or usually night) were answered with some useful tips and advice. And lots of laugh. And an unusually high proportion of ‘glasses of wine’ emojis.
Don’t get me wrong – yes, you do sometimes have to listen to someone pontificate about something they are doing with their baby that you would never do (hell, you may be thinking that when reading all these posts I’ve written so far!) but it is fantastic to listen away to women about their kids and what they get up to. What is even more brilliant is that a) nearly all mums have the same concerns and weird worries as you have and b) they are interested in hearing about your baby and what you get up to.
Now I recognize I was lucky – I met some women early on in my maternity leave that were great fun and had a lovely relaxed attitude to parenting that suited me down to the ground. But even those women who may not have been exactly my cup of tea – well, I was surprised how much I enjoyed just listening to their life and their approach to their children. Every meet-up I learnt something – and more often than not, that learning helped me realize that, while I was new to this lark, I was not totally bonkers when it came to parenting.
I could not get over how much the time flew when I got into some of these regular meet-ups. And remember, these were the very thing I wanted to avoid like the plague.
So to those who may be sitting at home wondering whether to get their asses to that forced group meet up, I say go. And if that one doesn’t work for you, get to the next one. You’ll find your people soon enough – and they are worth their weight in wine glass emojis.