To The Lonely Mum, I’m Sorry

I have a confession to make.

A couple of weeks ago I went to one of our regular classes. At the end, a mum I’d seen once at an antenatal group started chatting to me. We walked out of the group together before the girls I’d come with peeled off toward the coffee shop. The new mum asked if we were off to coffee and I invited her along. She couldn’t make it that time so we talked about maybe another time. We went our separate ways and I’ll admit I was relieved. Why? I just couldn’t face it.

Apology To The Lonely MumI couldn’t face the thought of starting over with another person from scratch. I’d found a group of mums eight months earlier and this was the only class we could all make it to. Selfishly, I didn’t want to make the small, awkward chat that comes with meeting someone for the first time. I was relieved that I didn’t have to think of questions, hope that my child was on his best behaviour and get to know someone again. I felt I’d done my bit, made my friends and that was that. I brushed off my relief, went off to coffee and thought nothing of it.

The next week she asked about coffee and I’m ashamed to say I lied. I said I was too busy. I could tell you how I was tired, I was grumpy. How I’d been up half the night with a snotty mess of a baby and I’d had a crappy week at work – I was less than two weeks in to my return to the office and deep in the middle of restructuring. I could fill you in on how I’d made someone redundant the day before and cried the other half of the night about it. How I wanted to wallow in self pity not make small talk.  I spent the entire rest of the day feeling like a cow. I hadn’t meant to be but in that split second I’d panicked. I felt awful. It was mean. I was mean.

The weeks that followed happened to be a series of events that conspired to stop any of us meeting for coffee. There was work one day, a grocery shop that had to be squeezed in, a race after class to make it to another group… there was always a reason why not. And with each week, I felt a little more awkward  and a little more like there was a barrier between us. Until this week.

This week I went to pick up my son from my mum’s house after work. It’s the day before our class and she asked what we had planned for the next day. I told her our plans and that it was a bit awkward because of the coffee-seeking mum. As I said it, I knew exactly what she was going to say.

“What if it were you?”

What if it were me that hadn’t found a group of mum mates yet? What if it were me that waited all week for the possibility of meeting like-minded mums for a drink only to hear no week after week? What if it were me that was lonely?

I hadn’t given a thought as to how she was feeling. I’d focussed on me and the fact that I had friends. I’d ignored the fact that it was probably really hard for her to put herself out there. Just like I’d found it hard to do it all those months ago. I’d put myself first rather than thinking about the bigger picture, about how someone else might be in a completely different situation to me.

Apology To The Lonely Mum

The next day I asked her for coffee. I put aside my terror of meeting new people, brushed off the fact that there was shopping to do, a house to clean and a million other things I should be doing and invited her out. And whilst she couldn’t make it, we made firm plans for the next. You know what? It felt good. I realised how fortunate I am; I have a group of mum friends, I’ve got a massive support network and rather than worrying about the fact I can’t fit them all socially, I should be over the moon that that’s even an issue. For someone that’s never had a huge circle of friends, I’ve been incredibly fortunate. As nice as it is to feel that fortune, it’s even nicer to spread a bit around.

So to the lonely mum, I’m sorry. I’m sorry for my lack of thought or time to give you. I’m sorry for forgetting how outright awful it is to put yourself out there and not get anything back. I’m sorry for not being a better mum friend when you needed someone. I’m sorry. After all, ‘what if it were me?’

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To The Lonely Mum - An Apology

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22 Comments

  1. 10th March 2017 / 7:59 am

    I totally get where you are coming from with this post. Although it’s not happened to me in real life, I’ve had mums from our Facebook group send me private messages and to be honest, I just don’t have time to enter conversation. I try to reply and be polite but more often than not, I’ve got that many chats going on and blogmin bits to do that I try to end it as soon as possible.

    When you start feeling guilty that you are neglecting your real life friends by not replying to their texts and messages that’s when you know you’ve got too much going on!!

    I hope you get to know this new mum friend and she’s nice. Well done for being the nice person- although I expected nothing less from you xx

    • DevonMamaOnline
      10th March 2017 / 2:01 pm

      It’s hard isn’t it? Sometimes I just feel that there isn’t enough time in the day and something has to give. Definitely if it’s impacting on your other friendships. She was really nice actually, just goes to show sometimes I’m my own worst enemy!!

  2. 10th March 2017 / 10:07 am

    I am that other mum! If she’s anything like me, she understands. You have so much to balance with your work, house, dog, husband and breastfeeding sometimes you should just remember that you cant save the world singlehandedly x

    • DevonMamaOnline
      10th March 2017 / 2:02 pm

      Thanks Nic, I hope people do. But then I’ve sat on the other side of things as well and come home feeling so lonely and out of the loop, it’s ridiculous. I thought being an adult was meant to be easy?!

  3. 10th March 2017 / 9:44 pm

    Such an honest post Hayley, you’re no bad person you are only human and I sometimes feel very much the same. I can’t be bothered for small talk and I just want to be surrounded with people I’m comfortable with. Well done for writing this, it can’t have been easy and I know there will be hundreds of us out there exactly the same.
    Babies and Beauty recently posted…NAILING ITMy Profile

    • DevonMamaOnline
      12th March 2017 / 12:53 pm

      Thanks Em, it’s hard to give everything all of your time and attention, sometimes I just want to be selfish for a minute and ignore the rest of the world! I find it so hard making new friends so I know I’m lucky to have the ones I’ve got – it’s terrifying!

    • DevonMamaOnline
      12th March 2017 / 12:54 pm

      Ahhh that’s awesome! I waiver between chatting to new people and chatting to just my friends, it’s so mood dependent. When I’m tired and am having a bad day, I just don’t have the energy to be ‘on’ if that makes sense so want people who get that. That said, babies do make it easier to make friends as they give you a reason to chat, it’s just the next stage that I find harder!

  4. 10th March 2017 / 10:06 pm

    Ah, I’m feeling like this a lot at the moment. I’ve started a support group and am loving being involved, but struggling with all the additional ‘friends’ I’m making! I feel overwhelmed by them all, definitely need to remember this from the other side…can we ever have too many friends?
    Jessica recently posted…So I plodded along…(where it all began…part 4!)My Profile

    • DevonMamaOnline
      12th March 2017 / 1:00 pm

      Argh it’s so hard! Because you want to be nice to everyone but at the same time, it’s hard having the time for everyone and everything. I think sometimes you have to be a bit selfish and draw a line to say ‘enough now’. the support group sounds wonderful, perhaps it’s a good way of helping them make friends with one another and you just facilitate? There has to be that balance, regardless of knowing how it feels from the other side, you’re only one person!

    • DevonMamaOnline
      12th March 2017 / 12:58 pm

      I know I’ve been really lucky to meet a group of women who I get on with, but I also know that it’s been really hard to get to that point as meeting new people is something that makes me quite anxious! There are so many times I’ve sat on my own or felt awkward at baby things, I think a lot of it is just luck of the draw at times too!!

  5. 10th March 2017 / 10:38 pm

    I’m that terrible person that people see online all the time but doesn’t have the time to engage in conversation. I am usually online working, but have deadlines. I always feel so bad.
    Nicole | thelittlestdarlings recently posted…NEUTRAL FOR SENSITIVE SKINMy Profile

    • DevonMamaOnline
      12th March 2017 / 12:56 pm

      It’s hard getting that balance isn’t it? I find the allure of online easier because it’s very much on your terms. If you’ve got to pop and do stuff n amongst chatting etc then there’s no issue, whereas that’s so much harder to fit in in real life! I don’t think we should feel guilty about that, I think being aware of it is the main thing!

    • DevonMamaOnline
      12th March 2017 / 12:51 pm

      It made me really sad recently to get that realisation. I’ve got another post coming shortly about it but I hadn’t fully appreciated how many amazing women feel that way. Parenthood can be pretty lonely at times!

  6. 11th March 2017 / 9:55 am

    I totally get where you and the other mum are coming from as I think we’ve all been in both sides of the fence. What is good you were able to recognise where you went wrong, even if some reminded you. It’s what you do with those gentle reminders that count x
    Lindsey recently posted…Spring Wellie BootsMy Profile

    • DevonMamaOnline
      12th March 2017 / 12:50 pm

      Thanks Lindsey, I think it’s easy to forget some times. How do mum’s know just what to say?! One day, that’ll be us dolling out that same sage advice!

  7. 14th March 2017 / 9:07 am

    This actually made me well up because I am a lonely mum! I’m glad you’ve given her a chance and you might be meeting. I’ve been to so many baby groups and tried to integrate myself. But there are so many mums in clicks together already and I’ve found my invitations denied or I’ve felt left out or pushed out of conversation.

    A new person coming can sometimes be a huge annoyance and threat. I know that from my pre-baby days when new people used to come along and try and be friends with my group of friends. I know now with my daughter its so hard to remain social with anyone at all because there is so much to do all the time. But I would give anything for someone to give us a chance so I’m so glad you gave this mum a chance! xxx

    • DevonMamaOnline
      15th March 2017 / 9:41 pm

      Oh lovely, it’s so hard finding people isn’t it? I’ve been in both situations and I think it’s so easy to forget what it’s like on the other side, both times! I hope you find some lovely mamas soon x

  8. 17th March 2017 / 7:49 am

    I love how honest this is – thank you for sharing. I’ve saved it as I think I might want to read it in six months time when I’m on maternity leave myself – who knows which side of the fence I’ll be on. I do think that sometimes you need to be selfish – otherwise it can become too much! – but I’m glad you did invite her out later.

    It reminded me of an incident about 2 months ago when I was in a cafe working and saw a mum with a very small baby at another table who started to cry. I was tempted to go over and start talking to her but I let my workload and my embarrassment at talking to strangers (what if she’d rather I left her alone!?) win out and then she left and I regretted it! I know it’s not the same situation but after reading this, next time I’d push myself to go and speak to her.

    • DevonMamaOnline
      19th March 2017 / 7:58 pm

      Such a lovely comment, I think that just being aware of that other mum is a good step… I find myself overanalysing things all the time, worrying about what to say and do etc but actually I think we probably all need to just go with our gut instinct, cross that line and say hello! Thanks for reading x

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