I like my friends. They’re school friends, work friends, friends I’ve accumulated via my husband, even family members. I’ve carefully cultivated them over the last thirty odd years. And when I say carefully, I mean mostly via the medium of alcohol, food and intense WhatsApp exchanges filled with bad puns and a running commentary on the latest TV show. Each one of them is pretty awesome in their own right, which is lucky for me because I have a confession to make…
I hate making friends.
Which is unfortunate. Especially when you desperately need to make new mum friends because that’s what the books say and frankly if you watch another episode of crappy daytime chat shows on mute whilst singing ‘Wheels on the Bus’ you may just go insane. So it’s time to suck it up and dive straight in. Cue our interpretation of the stages of making new friends (with babies).
Stage One – Over-Politeness
“Oh your child is called Adolf? What a LOVELY name”
You’re new. You’re keen. You’re going to charm the pants off of them whether they like it or not. Everything is LOVELY. Lovely name. Lovely bag. Lovely child. You realise you’re saying “lovely” a little too much (don’t want to appear manic – the fixed grin does that for you) and throw in a couple “cute”s. That bow is so cute in your little girls hair. Oh it’s a boy? Lovely. (Damn it!)
Stage Two – Stuck Like Glue
You’ve made it past the first hurdle; you’ve established contact. Now it’s time to make sure you become integral in each others lives by attending every class going together. Fancy swimming? Of course. Spot of soft play? Why not. Throw yourself off a building to raise money for the local children’s centre? Wouldn’t miss it for the world. You don’t want to say no for fear of them finding a new friend. A better friend. A friend that’s more likely to want to do absolutely everything with them, and provide snacks at the same time. You are like Jim Carrey’s Yes Man in mother form.
Stage Three – White Lies
As time continues you start to realise you’re not completely in alignment with all of their views. You moderate your own comments in order to not make waves. “Of course I never let my child sleep in my bed either” – despite waking up next to them that very morning. Well, a little white lie never hurt anyone and you’re pretty sure it’s only one or two things that you disagree on.
Stage Four – Reality
Amy spends the entire time telling you you’re wrong. Laura’s child only has to pull a funny face and she’s convinced he’s dying. You’re pretty sure Sarah has a drink problem (and not the fun type). Debbie is just. Plain. Dull. It turns out you can only actually stand two of them. Which is great. Except you’re seeing Amy at messy play, taking Sarah to baby massage and doing sing and rhyme with Debbie. Tomorrow.
Stage Five – Extraction
You’ve established who you feel most comfortable with but how do you know they feel the same? Commence some comments to test the waters; “Do you fancy coffee, just us…Or you know, others too?” Over-analyse the answers for hours whilst doing the night-feed. Give yourself a little talking to about being a fully grown woman and totally able to choose who you are and aren’t friends with. Question whether that’s still the case repeatedly before asking your husband his opinion until he puts his headphones in and asks you to stop waking him up at midnight for these apparently life-defining problems. Decide you’ve totally lost your radar since having a baby but plunge straight in anyway.
Stage Six – Mum Mates For Life
You’ve made it. You’ve gone through the keen, awkward stages and made it out the other side. Congratulations, you can finally be yourself with these people without wondering if they’re going to report you to ChildLine for the joke you made about giving the baby a swig of whisky to help them sleep (it was a joke, I promise!). Cue a WhatsApp group filled with such gems as ‘the baby just puked in my mouth’ exchanges at all hours of the night and ‘is this poo colour normal?’ all day. Get comfy, these women are in it for the long haul!
Have you had to make new mum friends since having your child? How’ve you found it?