When I was pregnant, an old colleague told me I would make “mum friends” after the birth of my child and they would become some of the people I’d come to cherish most. I flat out didn’t believe her. I remember scoffing at the prospect. I didn’t want any more friends. I had reached my friend quota – I had old school friends, friends I had studied with, worked with, travelled with – I was full up. Why would I add more friends to the mix when I didn’t get to see or spend the time with my existing favourite people?
I surprised myself after the birth of my daughter when I took the local health nurse’s advice and went along to mother’s group at the community centre. I liked the idea of a weekly outing in the diary plus regular access to the midwife for all my questions that Google failed to answer clearly. Plus, my sister insisted I go. She had essentially been expelled from her mother’s group with one other woman because they both had potty mouths and the two of them went on to became great friends. So off I went.
After four weeks the community centre part was done and dusted and the appointed team captain of my mother’s group set up a private Facebook page, added us all in and went about organising park dates, coffee catch ups and zoo trips. I went along to an outing or two, but I struggled. Organised fun and group activities can be tricky. I found the numbers overwhelming. It all seemed a bit serious and required a fair bit of effort. They are perfectly lovely women, yet I couldn’t shake the fact that babies and living nearby were the only things that connected us. I stopped going.
In the end an old pal took it upon herself to play mum matchmaker. Alice lived around the corner, had a daughter a month younger than my own and we had a couple of mutual friends. The first time we met on our blind mum date, we were both late, we looked bleary eyed and out of our depths with two tiny little people who were basically kicking our butts. We had coffee, took a little walk and said, “See ya!” when one of our little people started yelling at us.
Once a week or so we’d meet up. We would often change the time and location, cancel on each other, it all depended on what was happening with our bubs on a given day. It didn’t matter. I didn’t feel judged. There was no pressure. It was not a fast friendship where we had spectacular and riveting conversation. We were too bloody tired. We would string a couple of words together, sip some coffee and get out of the house to feel human again for a moment. We’d talk about our babies, or sometimes we wouldn’t. Best of all, it was easy.
The moral of this story? Don’t be a nonbeliever in the “mum friend” just because it seems daggy or because you think you’ve reached your friend quota. Having a buddy who understands how bloody hard it can be right as you’re in the thick of it is comforting and important for your sanity. If you’re not clicking with your mother’s group, ask around – one of your friends might know someone they can set you up with.
Listen to Alice Fenton on Kinderling Conversation:
Now mine and Alice’s bubs are one. They’re bigger little people and we are getting more sleep. We can finally drink strong alcoholic beverages together and leave our little people with their dads. The quality of our chats has improved. In fact, recently Alice and I were discussing all the crazy shit that happened to our bodies in the first year of having a kid, and how this had taken us both by surprise. Not just the sleep aspect, but lopsided boobs, weird mum thumb, aching shoulders, sex stuff, hormones, the pelvic floor… the list goes on. And this sparked an idea.
Today, my “mum friend” and I are launching a podcast for Kinderling Kids Radio and Babyology called Bodyshock where we separate fact from fiction about what having kids does to your body and mind… And what you can do about it. There are eight episodes to come and you can listen to the first two right now. If you haven’t made a “mum friend” yet, don’t despair. We’ll keep you company until you do.
Listen to the first two episodes of Bodyshock:
Our new Bodyshock podcast explores what kids do to your body and mind
Shannon O’Meara and Alice Fenton tackle the mind and body issues every new mum faces.
Phantom kicks, hair loss, eye sight issues, wobbly teeth, WTF?!
The Bodyshock team explore the bizarre side effects of having a baby.
5 ways to deal with sleep deprivation
Don’t pressure yourself to sleep when bub sleeps.
Finding my style again after kids
How host Shevonne Hunt rediscovered herself and fashion after cleaning out her closet.
We need to change how we look at mothers' bodies
It's hard to accept how we look post-baby.
Hot looks! Summer style tips for mums
Cool looks and practical tips from a fashion stylist.
Why the idea of the ‘Perfect Mother’ is failing mums
Shevonne Hunt lists the unrealistic ideas of the 'perfect parent' and explains their damage.
6 daily tasks I’ve decided to do 'good enough' as a parent
You are enough.