My friends and I! Strong, caring friendships. If only all new ones could be like this.
Oh how long have I wanted to write this post! It’s been on my mind a while and I’d like to write it to encourage friendship and care among new mums…
I’d like to share my experience of being a new mother with all you new mums out there. My child is now 13 months so I am reflecting on nearly a year ago…
I know it can be hard in the early days/weeks and months-for some it can be a lonely, depressing and frustrating time of not really knowing what you are doing with your first child, fear and worry, along with that wonderful heady mix of sleep deprivation (I kid).
Often it’s partners and husbands who go back to work and you and baby are now alone for the first time on that long stretch that is 9 months to a year maternity leave. Others- generally non parents think this is a holiday-fun time to do what you want.
I did mention these people were non parents didn’t I? In the early weeks it is especially difficult and depending on your circumstances etc (I had an emergency C section and was lucky my husband took 4 weeks off by which point I could walk about fairly easily and was feeling a little more confident), but nonetheless once it’s you and the baby, it’s not always easy…
I lived in a fairly gentrified area in London-not particularly multi cultural despite being the Capital and fairly elitist in many people’s views. But we had a nice place, it was near to the husband’s work and easy for me to travel, pretty large for London and it was a safe area.
So I struggled to get myself out, 3 stones bigger than usual with a tiny baby in tow and no confidence. All my close friends worked in the film industry or lived on the other side of London or didn’t have babies so were not free in the day. Those friends were amazing though and visited on weekends/evenings but I was determined to make new and local Mummy friends.
I attended some groups-one in particular was a government funded scheme for new Mum’s in my area-3 classes soon became 2 for reasons unexplained and although some of the women were friendly, there was one particular lady who for reasons unbeknownst took an instant dislike to me. Maybe it’s because the other women laughed at my jokes-maybe she felt insecure-shit we all did and all I wanted to do was make friends and start to feel normal again.
I could tell she didn’t like me, she made it obvious how could I not, she turned her back to me, no eye contact, tried to close me off from the circle of women as as we talked. Sorry were we back at school again?
I went home upset but happy I’d met a few sweet people at least. She wasn’t going to stop me attending the following week. Slowly she seemed to join the aforementioned group of friendly Mums but whenever we met socially, she ruined the atmosphere, made everyone feel uncomfortable but it was as if people were scared of her, had to have the bully around, in case I don’t know, she bullied everyone!
She even remarked to a friend I’d made in the group that she shouldn’t invite me along to social gatherings. Nice. I did nothing to this woman. I was just me (albeit a slightly withered, feeling slightly shitter yet eternally positive and still fun on the outside version of me) and she didn’t like it.
Generally I wouldn’t have cared and now I can reflect and think why did I care. These people are wasted energy and as Mama says, ‘Not everyone’s gonna like you’. I’d have ignored it ordinarily, but at this point, feeling sad, lonely and wanting to make Mummy friends, it hurt massively. I did later find out she was going through a lot of ‘issues’ but nonetheless I wondered why I was at the receiving end of them.
I ended up making friends with another group of women who were very kind- in my area, recommended via a local NCT group (I’d only done a single session with NCT due to work commitments so it was nice to meet the group). I also made a very close friend with an amazing lady who lived near me, her daughter 3 days younger than my son. Together we laughed, shared and supported each other. I don’t know what I’d have done without my beautiful Ruth.
A short time later we’d decided to move to Bristol for a change of scenery. Husband wanted LA, I compromised on countryside and more sunshine slightly nearer to home. We loved our time in Bristol and more than anything it was so amazing to meet a large group of Mums I instantly clicked with, they were clever, friendly, warm and within my first 2 weeks there I’d made friends with lots of mums, from all different walks of life who I’d felt I’d known for ages.
It proved to me that although I was pretty popular with work friends and all ‘my girls’ in London generally, that Mums would like me too.
We only stayed in the South West for 6 months before I decided a move home back to Leeds was right for us as I’d be back on set and being near family was the way forward for me. I need family support to help with my child as work can take me anywhere. We love it here and we get back to London often, have kept our place there tenanted in case we want to return and it’s so wonderful being around my oldest friends (some now with kids too) in Leeds as well as the family. That’s what you need as a mother, people you click with and can rely on.
So what’s the moral of the story-it’s simple: just be nice to one another, next time a new Mum joins a group or wants to be friends, try and be a little welcoming. Just because we’re mothers doesn’t mean we’ll instantly get on, I know and I like to think the Mummy friends I have are women I would have been friends with regardless, children or not.
Not everyone is going to click but trying to ostracise mothers is just cruel. So next time someone might not be ‘your cup of tea’ as we say up North, give them a chance or take a moment to empathise with their situation.
You can still be inclusive and friendly. Maybe like you, they just want to make friends or at the very least, not have an unpleasant experience.
That is all.