Ever since I had Amelia I’ve had this feeling of being left out of the mama world a little bit, of not really fitting in. I didn’t really get the whole Mum squad thang, and I didn’t feel like I belonged in this new world. A big part of me, tbh, didn’t really want to fit into the world of motherhood. That’s not to say I didn’t want to be a Mum, I just didn’t want to redefine myself entirely around motherhood. A big part of this was telling anyone who’d listen;
“I already have friends thanks, I don’t need new Mum friends ta very much!”
When Amelia was small I would see other mums, particularly groups of mum friends, in various settings; at our weekly swimming lessons, in cafes and coffee shops, nattering over tea in the park, and of course at soft play. Occasionally I would overhear snippets of their conversations (intentionally or not, I’ll let you decide *wink wink*) and this would only serve to remind me that I am not one of them. I don’t talk like these mums, I don’t think like these mums, I don’t look like these mums, I am not like these mums.
Was I doing it all wrong?
I started to wonder if I was doing it wrong, this mama thing. Maybe I’m too young (hardly the youngest mum in the world, I was nearly 27 when I had Amelia) or maybe I was too concerned about my career to really be a proper mum.Could it be because I’m not married, we don’t own a house, and we’re far from balling?
There’s a strong chance it’s because I don’t really like wine (I know, right?!), or because I’m not constantly stressed out to the max, sleep deprived, or worrying about when the right time is to get Amelia into clarinet lessons. Maybe it’s because I didn’t breastfeed… (that’s another post entirely, right there!)
Maybe it’s because I’m a fraud.
So what was my damage about mum friends?
I had these unrealistic ideals of what is was to be a mum. In my head a family was a perfect little unit, living in a nice house with a garden where money wasn’t always tight and mum got to stay at home doing crafts and
shit generally being fabulous. My mind played out visions of days filled with ‘mummy and me’ groups, musical tots club, and making friends at soft play.
Other mums would totally want to be our friends because we’re beyond cool. Even though I kept telling people I didn’t need Mum friends, I kind of expected that a bunch would fall in my lap anyway. Alongside all of this, I imagined that I would also be killing it still at work, running a successful business and bringing home some serious performance related bonuses to help fund all of our extra-curricular activities.
I was even ready for the so-called ‘bad times’. The times when I would arrive for that weekly mum meet up all outwardly zen, and whisper secretly that I was just soooo tired from all the sleepless nights that I had a glass of wine at 4 o’clock yesterday (*gasp*). We would all nod along and chuckle lightheartedly at our mum fates and enjoy a nice latte while the kids munched happily on rice cakes.
Be real, sister…
All of the above? Erm, not so much. I didn’t actually make any mum friends, because I avoided ante-natal classes like the plague and failed to join any groups. I did sort of immerse myself briefly in a little group at swimming, but that soon bored me – they were all just a bit too happy for my liking, and it all felt kind of fake. We tried out musical tots, but it only took a couple of visits before we (I) were waking up on a Thursday morning, looking at each other (me looking at Amelia), and saying;
“Nah, let’s just stay in our pyjamas and eat caramel snack-a-jacks and chocolate buttons!”
I wasn’t really all that stressed out, and Amelia slept like a dream most of the time (don’t hate me), and I don’t really like wine. Some days were boring, some days were loads of fun, some days we didn’t do much, and some days were full of activities. It was what it was, and it got steadily more enjoyable the more she was able to interact and play with me.
I don’t have time for mum friends…
I went back to work when Amelia was about 7 months old, and I was pretty good at separating work from home, Of course I missed Amelia, but I didn’t ache for her, and I wasn’t especially miserable being away from her.
She split her time between my mum and a childminder close to my work, but even with all of that support it soon became apparent that I wasn’t going to be able to pull the 60+ hour weeks that I was pre-baby. I loved my job, but my work suffered when I couldn’t give it the time it needed, and it wasn’t long before I made the tough decision to give it up.
I had no idea how we would cope financially, as I was earning the biggest chunk of our household income at the time, but I knew that it needed to be done. I’d also started to resent my mum, who Amelia seemed to be more attached to than she was to me (“seemed to” being the operative words here), and I had missed a whole bunch of milestones too.
So Where Do I Fit In?
For a long time I didn’t feel like I belonged in the mum world, and I actively avoided making any mum friends. But as cliched as it is, blogging has completely flipped that on its head. I’ve ‘met’ some friggin’ epic mama’s who are so like me in every way that I seriously can’t remember what my damage was about mum friends! I suppose it’s all about making the right connections.
Every single one of us is different, and every single one of us is a mum with her own issues, likes, dislikes, inner turmoil, and daily struggles. Some of us fully immerse ourselves in as many motherhood tribes as possible, while some just don’t, or dip in and out. Some mama’s work (aside from parenting) because we have to, or because we want to. some of us don’t because we can’t, don’t want to, or don’t have to.
There are mums who find parenting super stressful, and some less so. Some of us enjoy the baby days most, while others can’t wait for them to be over! There’s mums who get no sleep and some who sleep just fine. Mama’s with fussy eaters and those with kids who will eat just about anything in sight. We all have different approaches to parenting; things we will never do or don’t agree with, things we thought we’d never do but have changed our minds, things that make us cringe (did you know you’re ‘supposed’ to suck snot from babies noses?!) and things we just can’t do.
I could go on…
You can be in my squad! 😉
We all worry about the choices we make for our kids, whether we are doing right by them, making the right decisions and choices for them, and teaching them the right things. No matter what walk of life we come from, where we live, how we live, or our parenting styles. All of us have those moments when we just aren’t sure.
We all have that in common at least. So we can be mum friends if you like. I won’t judge you, or give a rat’s behind if you turn up here with snot down your front and cheerios in your hair at 2am. I’m cool like that.