When you have a baby there seems to be a tick list of milestones you need to achieve… find a way to drink a cup of tea while it’s still hot, see how long you can get away with leaving vomit in your hair and the big one… make mum friends. When you were a child you could strike up a friendship with anyone by offering them your Dairylea Dunker and some playground secrets, but is it that simple when you have a child?
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 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 Jeremy Kyle 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 girl’s 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 other’s lives by attending every class going together. Fancy swimming? Of course. A 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. 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. 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. Cue a WhatsApp group filled with such gems as ‘the baby just puked in my mouth’ exchanges at all hours of the night. 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?
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