friends

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.

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9 Responses

  1. ghostwritermummy

    What an awful woman! When L was born, as you know, I was pretty much traumatised by it all. By the time we were home from the hospital THE SNOW was here and we were stuck in the house. Once I could drve again I forced myself to go to a local baby group, having never been with E. I was SO glad I went. I met so many wonderful ladies and honestly never encountered any negatvie attitudes. L and I have made friends for life. I also hooked up with an old uni friend (Minty at waterbirthplease) who had a daughter a month before me and we see each other every week now. I feel so lucky that L has made new friends for me and you’re right- new mums need other new mums around them for support and friendship. There’s no time for bitchiness as we’re all in the same boat!
    XxX

    Reply
    • honestmum

      @ghostwritermummy thanks for this, just read it now, so true, there really shouldn’t be bitchiness when we need other women’s support so much. So glad I experienced such a warm, supportive group when I moved to Bristol xx

      Reply
  2. Circus Queen

    Thanks for being so real in sharing what it was like. I’m going to be a new mum in three months and making mummy friends is a bit scary. But seeing that you weren’t put off by bad experiences is an encouragement.

    Reply
  3. Sharcasm

    Beautiful post Vee and so sorry to hear you had to deal with that bully mum. To be at the receiving end of someone’s personal issues is just so wrong. Being kind to one another is always key. I’m so glad you and Ruth became such good friends, it was beautiful to see how close you two have become when I saw you both in September. It’s so important to have the support from people who are going through the same as you when you’re a first time mum.

    Reply
    • honestmum

      @Circusqueen please don’t be put off as there are so many amazing mothers out there, I was just unlucky with that particular one and no it didn’t put me off, I made some amazing friends. Good luck with the birth. @ Mary I think c sections are so hard especially (I’m imagining with your first), like you I felt lonely and you are in recovery yourself with the shock of having a baby to look after when you yourself need looking after. It is so terribly hard. Take time to consider another though as perhaps going on to have a 2nd might not be so bad. A friend recently said an elective c section is better-not so rushed and I suppose you know what you have to deal with. @Bangs, @Sharcasm, @Kiki I am very lucky to have you as my real life friends, it wasn’t the most pleasant of experiences but there are lots of lovely mothers out there and having friends like you guys made life a lot easier believe me even though we were in different cities and countries. @ChocOrangeCityMum you were very lucky and these friendships are so needed especially early on.

      Reply
  4. Mary

    I feel the pain too. I had a very annoying pregnancy, a c section and a tough recovery with an oozing open wound on my tummy and had to accommodate my non english speaking mother and my Canadian husband who was sick at the time too. Add a baby to all that! It is an isolating experience having a baby far from family and friends which wad what happened to me. People tend to be very inclusive with their friends and try to block u from their circle. Still there r some nice people around. I don’t think I would have any more babies since u found the experience quite tough regardless of all the happines a baby brings to your life.

    Reply
  5. Bangs and a Bun

    Aww, makes me sad that someone treated my lovely Vicki like that 🙁

    I guess as you say, everyone has their own issues or struggles at the beginning of motherhood, but to deliberately go to the extent that lady did just seems cruel, as you say. Also, very high school.

    I think the message of ‘just be kind to one another’ applies to everyone. I think those of us who don’t have kids need to be more understanding of what it’s like for our friends who have newborns and how much life changes. But really anytime you meet someone new in life, you should be open and kind. I know when I was living out in Canada by myself, I often had that same feeling of being shut out when I was just trying to make friends and not be so lonely.

    Can we have a group hug now?

    Reply
  6. Kiki

    I couldn’t agree more with this post. I really think just basic kindness to one another has in a way gone out the window in many parts of the world.
    For some odd reason, when I had my 1st baby, it was much easier to make friends & meet other mummies with babies, as I was at the time an expat in Switzerland. I guess, the expats all know too well about feeling isolated, and really take it upon themselves to mingle and support one another.
    2nd time round I had my baby back here in Norway and wow, what an isolating experience. I’m not an expat (even though I feel like one!) so I can’t join in with that group and with the organized governmental mummy groups – hmm., let’s just say, even my cousin who lives here found it a waste of time.

    I haven’t met any warm friendly individual through the mummy groups here, but instead, I’ve met amazing mums through other venues.

    So you weren’t alone with experience some weirdness with that bizarre mummy at the group.

    However, you said it rightly, no one knows what kind of births any of these mums have had, how their set up is at home, whether they are suffering from post natal depression, or even getting support. We have no idea what goes on behind other people’s facade.

    So it’s wise and just plain kind to give someone that chance. This is a beautiful post Vee. It’s the seed of thought for today.
    Give someone a chance and be kind 🙂

    Much love from a mummy of 2 who loves you to bits,
    xxK

    Reply
  7. ChocOrang CityMum

    Those first months are so tough, I am lucky to have found a group of mums (and one dad) who already knew each other and were happy to take on a straggler, it makes such a difference.

    Reply

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