How to make a mum friend

Surely I’m not the only person who finds making mum friends quite difficult?

I struck gold with my ante-natal group and three years on, we are all really close. I have often wondered if it’s rare – I feel like I was really lucky that they all ended up being really intelligent, chilled out, funny, and fun. We are all on to our second babies now and don’t get to hang out nearly as much as I’d like us to due to work and life and illness. But we will always have a special bond because we had all of our boys (yes all boys) together. We now have (almost) all had our second babies together as well – six boys, one more boy on the way, and one little girl.

I have another circle of mum friends that I met online. There are big benefits to meeting mum friends online – you know their politics, general outlook, ideological beliefs etc. BEFORE you get them into your house. I mean sure – I have met a few people online who have ended up being creeps (who hasn’t?) but thankfully I got them out of my life fairly quickly. My circle of online mum friends (who really, are just friends) is my lifeline. I adore them – they’re my best friends. I don’t know what I’d do without them.

I was pretty much the first in my circle of friends to have kids. It’s great that my closest friends are now catching up. But it means my mum friend circles are those two really – antenatal group and friends I first met online.

Trying to meet mums in other ways is often a total failure. Someone will say something about “natural” birth and I’ll be all *lip curl* or they’ll start talking about baby led weaning or cloth nappies and two hours later I will come back and they will still be going so I’ll go on a short holiday and then come back and they’re just winding up and they have a book for me to read. And I just…why is it so hard? I’m not even that picky?

I feel like I have a script for meeting new mums and it’s like speed dating.

It always begins at the swings aye? And the first question from either mum is almost always “how old is yours?” Then there are comments about size of said baby – so big! So small! Testing the waters a little there are comments about “how do you find it with two?”

I always find the conversations so difficult. I feel so anxious all the time. So unsure of how to be cool for other mums or say the right thing or at least not say the wrong thing. After being inside all week I feel like I can’t even make conversation. I mean even at home I’m like “CAN YOU NOT PUT IT IN YOUR MOUTH IF IT ISN’T FOOD. IS IT FOOD? NO. TAKE IT OUT. NOW. FOOD. MOUTH. NO FOOD. NO MOUTH”.

If the other mum starts talking about the weather you know you don’t have a chance. They’re bored. You’re boring. The conversation grinds to a halt. And Eddie is always awkward and refuses to get off the swings so I have to just stand there.

Sometimes if the conversation actually seems to be going somewhere, and I’ve managed to not say something really terrible “yeah definitely my vagina was super sore afterwards” I will tentatively drop vaccination into the mix just to make sure I’m not putted wasted effort in.

I wish I was just better at social activity. Just cool and smooth. Like that mum you see at the park with her latte and she looks really great and she’s surrounded by other mums and they’re all cackling. Heads flung back, beautiful Barbie hair shining in the sun, “OH JANA! YOU’RE TOO MUCH!” And she pulls out a hip flask and tells another amazing story and her perfect kids just sleep perfectly in their double buggy (one girl and one boy) and the buggy is one of those fancy ones that has the super sweet black and white pattern on it.

I mean I have mum friends, I’m not a complete loser. It’s just that all of us are at different stages – studying, working outside the home, that kind of thing. Those that are stay at home mums don’t live near me, so we’re not hanging out at the local park. And winter makes me anxious – there are germs everywhere. People take their kids out when they’re sick. Everyone is coughing. It’s cold. Winter really is a bullshit season.

So where is the anxious mums club? We can all sit around and take turns being Janas. Have our moment in the sun. We can forgive each other for having verbal rota-virus (do you know I once said to a person I only just met that I once puked in bed and slept in it because I was too sick to move. Who says that to someone? Over lunch? OMG I just told all of you three people reading this. What is wrong with me???).

Where was I – we would forgive short attention spans and inability to keep on topic, tangents and stories that don’t go anywhere.

We can just be casual mum friends who txt and say ‘going to the park want to come?’ or ‘mums and bubs movie at midday – keen?’ I have friends who aren’t mums that I can do this with, so I just wish I had more mum friends, with kids the same age, who I can do this with.

And we can just see a movie. Or hang out by the swings. And not talk forever about boring “parenting philosophies” or whose child is sleeping through the night or on solids or whose birth was the most natural (it was Jana’s – she gave birth in a field with a paleo string quartet playing).

Maybe – the trick to finding the right mum friend is to approach it like dating. Have a list of things that are non-negotiable. So here are mine. And I want to know yours. Then we can match each other up.

1) Must love modern medicine and vaccination

My closest dearest mum friends know what I’ve been through with my son. They know modern medicine saved him. And they know the importance of vaccination.

2) Must not talk about super foods. Particularly chia seeds. And quinoa. Preferably not able to even pronounce quinoa.

For a really long time I thought it was a fish and I called in Kwin-oh-ah. The fact that so many people never corrected me really cranks my crank. Fuck quinoa. And super foods. And conversations about food that aren’t cake-related.

3) Likes beefcakes

I would like my mum friend to be someone who isn’t unnerved by my obsession with The Rock, Idris Elba, Thor, and recently a return to my fantasies – Joe Manganiello. Also, the captain of the Samoa rugby team. And Roman Reigns. If this obsession can’t be matched, I would at least like someone who enjoys spending a portion of their time talking about crushes.

4) Their children must be terrible sleepers

I just want to be with my people.

5) No diet talk

I don’t want to feel bad about how I look. Particularly because I don’t feel bad about how I look. Despite the fact that I think society wants me to feel bad about how I look.

6) Wine and coffee – solid relationship needed

Yeah, I feel like my great loves in life are wine and coffee (and my kids and husband I suppose after wine and coffee). So if we have that in common that’s going to be helpful.

7) Good politics

You don’t have to agree with everything I do. But you kind of do.

8) Must not mind lists ending at 8.

 

It’s all a bit silly I know. I think it’s just winter. It makes you feel isolated. It’s too cold to go out. The kids are always sick. When your child is finally better, your mum friend’s child is sick. So you just never get to hang. It sucks. Maybe I’m just being an emo.

But today I did meet a mum by the swing. I dropped a comment about vaccination and she said there should be a law requiring people to vaccinate. And then I dropped an F bomb just to see what would happen and she didn’t even flinch. And then she said her almost three year old still wakes up. So…wish me luck?

How long do I wait before I call her?!?!

***

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  1. I love you and I love this! Let’s hang out and drink wine and I’ll moan about how my 4 (FOUR) year old woke up at 3am and because I’d had too much coffee that day (didn’t know this was actually possible for me but there you go) I didn’t go back to sleep so when she woke up for the day at 5.30am that was it. You can moan about antivaxxers and winter sickness and whatever you damn well please. X

    • I think you’re my dream woman <3 damn 5.30am wake ups are evil aren't they? My littliest has decided he needs to wake two hourly. So I will drink wine but you might have to just stroke my hair and not get upset if I drool on your couch. I'm very fragile right now.

  2. This is all so completely true! I had a bit of a mix in my ante natal class, a few were a bit obsessed with exercising their baby fat off for me to get too close with. I am a terrible small talker, so I find solo excursions to the park awkward – though as my 2yr old usually tries to fall in a puddle / run on the road just to see if I am watching / do other dangerous thing atop huge climbing frame, I usually can’t chat anyway. Anyway, love your work – the ballet thing is genius. I also tried to find a ballet class when my 4yo was 2 and asked if he could try one, and the one I contacted didn’t even come back to me. Keep doing what you do, you are awesome! Cheers, Sarah

    • I feel you on park excursions. My ideal mum date is just at my house. Because I’m comfortable there. The kids can’t kill themselves or each other (probably?) and there’s heaps of coffee. When I go to other people’s houses I get worried something will break. Or I’ll spill something. Or I’ll get lost trying to find their place. Or I won’t know when to leave….
      That sucks about that ballet class. I take it you’re not in Wellington then? I had heaps who weren’t interested at all when they found out I had a boy. They’ll feel like dicks when he reaches the lofty heights of whatever is the highest you can get as a ballerina…

      • I didn’t used to like having my antenatal class around because my lounge wasn’t big enough for everybody! I made the mistake of having them all over with their partners on a warm day, and one had to go home because she was overheating. I always used to get lost finding those who lived in Churton Park’s places. That place is awful, so many houses that look EXACTLY the same. So even if you’ve been there before, you are still not sure it’s the right one.
        I am in Wellington, it was a Khandallah outfit I tried – we don’t live there but it was the closest – and had nothing at all back. I might have to bring the boys along to ballet one day, though the 4yo hasn’t asked for anything but drum lessons lately (not sure how to do the emoji for clapping hands over ears, but take it as read… ) I had a male friend at High School who did reach some pretty lofty heights as a ballet dancer, and he had the best body at swimming sports day! Sadly, til he was 15, he hid the fact he was a ballet dancer by saying he was going to tennis lessons, because he was worried people would judge him. He side-stepped the judgement by being our Stage Challenge choreographer i.e. the coolest person there. šŸ™‚

        • I’ve heard the Khandallah set is quite exclusive and very difficult to get into hahaha! Damn – drum lessons. Can you move out? There are heaps of cool mums at ballet. But I just stand at the back and awkwardly stare at them…

  3. A PALEO STRING QUARTET!!

    Ha!

    My baby and I would have died without modern obstetrics. Not that I needed that experience to convince me, because, you know, SCIENCE already had šŸ™‚

    Anyway, let’s go and talk politics at the swings soon. James is super keen (he was hoping for today. And yesterday. He wanted to invite Eddie over to help him feel better LAST NIGHT at 8pm.)

    • James is adorable! Eddie is starting to come right soon so I’m keen on some meaty modern obstetrics discussion.

  4. This is gospel. I wish I had the opportunity to make mum friends (even Jana types… Providing she shares that fucking hipflask (ohhh I like this new keyboard it even swipe spells swearwords).

    You never fail to win me over with your words. I’ve had to avoid checking updated posts because last time I did I ended up a giant boogery crying into my eldest human hair telling her how much I love her haha.

    • I’m glad this post didn’t make you cry! Sometimes I feel like it’s the Emo Inn over here. I don’t mean it to be! I just have a lot of feelings all the time!!!

  5. Love it! I find shouting “sleep is for the weak muthafuckaaaaaas” loudly whilst simultaneously feeding Sophie cake and making the sign of RAWK is usually enough to permanently halt all conversations of how if Id have read this book / followed this technique then our little girl would’ve slept ALLLL night from three weeks. Just. Fuck. Off.

    Some kids sleep, some don’t, our littley Is nearly four and despite all the routine in the world she has times when she is still up several times a night. That’s life and “helpfully” suggesting stuff isn’t going to change things.

    This fucks me off to a level of apoplectic rage only beaten by those turds who put their kids into nursery with a “aw they were sick a few times after tea last night but haven’t thrown up since three, and they WANTED to come sooooo muuuuch”
    Yes. Thanks for that you fecking nicompoop, the last spu bug we caught from a kid who had “only” been sick a few times ended in a hospital staying following seizures, it ROCKED. (I won’t even get started on the snot streaming little ones with fever who have the “sniffles” – we’d be here for days if I rip the lid off that rant).

    As for baby led weaning well, if I’d’ve waited for Sophie to be able to sit up and feed herself I would still be waiting and she would’ve starved. Shove your baby led weaning up your arse judgeymcfucknut. I will be here our pureeing the shit out of vegetables and blending cake and custard to give little legs tastes of the good stuff! Needless to say I never went to the health visitors class on that subject, hee hee!
    Alas, my friends all have grown kids now so I am adrift in a sea of coffee and sleep deprivation with the occasional worship at the altar of a beefy red wine. All hail cake!

  6. As long as you head banging n eating cake šŸ™‚
    I do get that my experience of motherhood is different than most due to the wriggle giggles aka cerebral palsy Sophster got on her journey into this world. However I hate the competitive fuckupery that seems to be endemic in all things parenthood nowadays.

    I mean I nearly shit myself with joy yesterday when breeksie took her first ever drink from an actual straw. I cried. Big snotty tears of joy n gratitude that the Peerie love had gained the oromotor control necessary to suck that apple juice up like a pro.

    I know some I know will get the snotty tears of joy and cry them too yet there will be others who give me the slightly pitying “poor you” looks and then add on “well Jane drank through a straw at four months”. I sat in various mother and toddler groups, not giving a monkeys chuff I may add as I dumped all the baby books I read (yup, I composted the fuckers, didn’t even give their guff to a charity shop so some other poor tit like me could read em, nope, they rotted in me compost bins)

    I saw a lot of mums crucifying themselves about how their little one didn’t walk, crawl, sit at the same stage as everyone else’s and I thought “my grannies wouldn’t have given a shit about this stuff and neither did my mum so why the fuck do we care so much about this crap?” It saddens me greatly.

    Thankfully my nearest toddlers group is full of mums who got it when you turned up late, covered in puke and refluxed food – they simply handed over the coffee, took breeksie for a cuddle and didn’t take offence when you didn’t take part in the activities. I miss it now I work that morning and little legs is in “big girls nursery”. They rocked we need more of that I feel and less of the “My little one learned mandarin at seven months and is now tri-lingual” good for you, no hand over the cake!

    • Hahaha you should write a guest post Christine – not only to I agree with you on everything you’ve said (and can relate to a lot of it) but you’re hilarious too. Milestones are an interesting/heartbreaking/stupid/frustrating/awful thing when your child has high health needs, extra needs, or disabilities. People just don’t get that at all if they’re not in it. I wish people talked about that more. When E was tiny, I ventured out once and a woman went on and on about how early their child crawled, finally I snapped “Well mine is just fucking focusing on breathing OK?” It shut her up…but I felt like an asshole. Even though I still think people are really insensitive about stuff like milestones and should STFU a lot.

  7. Be my friend!! I will bring wine! And cake! My 3 1/2 yr old does not understand the concept of sleep and she’s teaching her theories on the best way to keep mum awake to the 18month old. I nearly threw save our sleep out the window at one point (only refrained beacause a friend had lent it to me). You made me laugh and so glad that I’m not alone out there šŸ™‚ good luck and call her!

  8. No judgment here re: the vomiting. There were multiple times during my first trimester where I just puked while laying down on the bathroom floor (couldn’t even make it to the toilet) and laid with my head in the pile of vomit. For many minutes. It’s not glamorous, but it’s real life!!

  9. Loved everything about this post. And can totally relate. I don’t know how many times I’ve left a mommy & me playgroup and was like “fuck, I’m a social idiot.” Lol

  10. Yes yes! Totally feel this and a bit worried about making new friends to hang with when kid2.0 arrives.

  11. Emily, my daughter is now nearly 22, I met one of my bestest friends when spotted that I had a bubba too. We started chatting and that was that. She said she would never normally approach a stranger but she felt so desperate (and I assume I didn’t look too crazy) so she did. And here we are 21 years later, hoping the grand kids don’t turn up too soon.
    Couldn’t agree more with your non negotiables

    • That’s lovely šŸ™‚ I have a wee circle of four super, super close mama friends and we like to imagine that one day we will live on a commune together <3

  12. I would love to hang out with you!

    I met almost all my real life closest friends through my kids: baby groups, toddler groups and preschool. It’s a great way to chat with people informally where you know you have at least one thing in common and, in doing so, figure out which folks are just your cup of tea.

    My difficulty now is that I emigrated just at the point where I was no longer involved in any of those parent and kid things. Now I have very little opportunity to meet new people and even find a point of common ground let alone encourage that seedling into a blossoming friendship.

  13. Wanted: Mum friends who don’t insist on structured play, outings, everything has to be educational and who want to go to the park, drink coffee or tea, understand that sleep is for the weak, laugh when the kids get muddy without freaking the hell out and won’t mind if I cancel or I’m late after a poo explosion the resulted in bub looking like that were dipped in poo from the neck down. (And laugh at my expense after horror filled texts sent)

    • I should have put that I am always late. Always! And I know your pain re:baby poo explosions, one of the reasons why I hate going out.

  14. For a really long time I thought it was a fish and I called in Kwin-oh-ah. The fact that so many people never corrected me really cranks my crank.

    Well, in another post you said you loathed adults who correct other adults, so maybe they were all too scared:). Tbh, I think you have to know someone really really well and be 100% sure they’d want to know before you start correcting their English, and even then you risk coming off as totally obnoxious.

  15. I really think that we’d get along really well. Not that my kids are little any more but we have other things in common like the inability to censor the things that come out of our mouths. Once when I was having a breast exam I actually reminded the doctor who was doing it that we’d gone to high school together. He’d forgotten and I should have left it that way but my brain said it would have been rude not to rekindle old memories while he was having a good palpate of my breast. Who does that?!!

  16. i know this makes me sound like a desperate stalker, but this resonates with me so much I feel like relocating to New Zealand just so we can be friends. Great post.

  17. Are you in Wellington? Can we be friends? I need Mum friends, believe in modern medicine, my daughter gets vaccinated against everything (I also hate saying vaccinated in the same sentence as my daughter as it sounds like I take her to the vet… haha), don’t do super foods or diets and have a terrible sleeper. Down-side is I don’t drink coffee, but surely that’s not a huge deal breaker!

    • Yes I’m in Wellington and no coffee isn’t a deal breaker šŸ™‚ it seems like this post has struck a chord with quite a few mums which is awesome. We might have to organise a meet by the swings! ā¤ļø

  18. Oh I do have to admit, my kids are not terrible sleepers (though they do have their moments) but other than that we could so be friends!! I too love Thor. And coffee. And wine. Not necessarily in that order. Diet talk makes me feel guilty, I still have no idea how to pronounce quinoa (I don’t even know what it is – I know food, but no idea what) and eating cake is pretty much my favourite hobby.

    Fab post šŸ™‚

  19. You mean that’s not how it’s pronounced? Shit.

    I don’t believe I’ve ever heard quinoa spoken. And yeah, I agree with ALL of those. Modern medicine was created by science. Science is the reason many of us are alive.

  20. My youngest has reflux, still really badly at 9 and a half months. When he sleeps through the night (it’s happened like, five or six times since he was born), it’s like a fucking miracle has happened in our house. And even though I actually wake up at least twenty times during these rare nights to check that the reason he hasn’t woken me up isn’t because something awful has happened to him, I somehow always feel like we’ve scaled some kind of parenting Everest. Then he doesn’t sleep through again for another ridiculously long time. So can I be your mum friend? I could talk about sleep deprivation all day!

    • Oh my gosh I so know that feeling!! Or when they wake up and you check the time and they’ve slept for five hours in a row?? Heaven!!

  21. Why do you live on the other side of the world from me!!!!! It’s so unfair šŸ™ I am the worst at making new ‘mummy’ friends. I didn’t really go to a proper anti-natal group, so I met no one pregnant at the same time as me. I also was the first of my closest friend group to get preggers, so their babies are at least a year younger and they all live in different cities. I’m literally the worst at small talk! There is no hope! (On a side note – have you listened to the ‘Nerdist’ podcast with Joe Manganiello it’s so awesome! His impression of Macho Man Randy Savage is just hilarious).

  22. I have some friends that have infants really close in age to my new daughter. But I don’t need friends with infants right now… I need friends with 3 1/2 yrs that you are carrying like a football, kicking and screaming out of ikea while pushing a sleeping baby in her stroller. I saw one once at the grocery store. Full cart of groceries in the parking lot, literally pushing her 3 or 4 yr old into the car and fighting the seat belt on. Even stopped to help her put her food in the trunk. Never got her number, still kicking myself today! That’s my kind of mummy friend!

  23. Caffeine gives me horrible headaches, and my baby’s got enough energy without getting turbo-charged milk… After only one nap yesterday, and quite a few nights’ poor sleep on the trot, last night, my delightful 9 month daughter didn’t go to sleep at all until 2:20 am, when she slept for a few minutes, repeated at 3:20, and 3:40… At 4 am I gave up on getting her to settle in the cot; the husband had to borrow my car yesterday and it crippled him (I don’t think he found all the ways to adjust the seat, and he’s 6’7″) so he stayed over nearer work last night, so no flaily heavy sleeper to squish her so I just snuggled her in our bed instead. She still didn’t sleep longer than 45 minutes in a go. At all. All night. I don’t think I’ve had 4 hours’ sleep.

    I really wish I could have a big, steaming mug of strong mocha coffee.

  24. Me and my daughter are up to date with our vaccinations (even have a couple of extra ones). We do eat quinoa but my husband is Latin American so it’s like porridge to him! You can keep The Rock. I’ll take Thor šŸ˜‰ It’s 00:37. I have been trying to get my toddler back to sleep for 2 hours. Coffee and a pint an OK compromise?

    I think I’d pass the recruitment stage to be your mum friend – unfortunately I think I’m on the other side of the world!

    Just found your blog and enjoying it. I’m going to carry on reading over the head of my grumpy, tried, unable to sleep toddler.

  25. Haha you probably wouldn’t wanna be friends with me … I feed my little one quinoa šŸ˜‰ And I know quite a few anti-vaxer friends who have their own reasons not to (bad reactions, etc.). I think there are so many different ways of parenting, that my only criteria is kinda:
    1) Don’t bring your kid around mine when they’re sick. Seriously. Have had so many colds this season due to people saying “Oh it’s clear snot, it’s not contagious,” and apparently they just HAD to bring their one to playgroup / library. No, I’m seriously over that. Otherwise, vax or not, I don’t care, just don’t bring em round sick.
    2) Don’t boast about your kid. I think mine’s pretty spesh, but I never rub anyone’s face in it.
    3) Don’t tell me what I’m doing wrong with my parenting. I think plenty of people are doing ‘wrong’ things with their parenting, but I keep my mouth shut, so why is it so hard to have that in return.
    4) Don’t let your kid bully mine. I don’t let mine bully yours.

    I think those are pretty reasonable lol. Otherwise I’m not too fussed šŸ™‚

    • I guess I don’t see choosing not to vaccinate and willingly putting children like mine at risk as a harmless parenting choice. It’s my only real non-negotiable (I’m joking with the rest – I don’t actually have anything against quinoa or any other grains…) I think it’s just too hard for me to get past the fact that they don’t want to protect my son and other children from diseases that would likely kill them. Measles for example has a more than 50% death rate for children with low immunity. So yeah….won’t budge on that one. I am with you on your other points though – “one person’s sniffles is another person’s ICU stay” is a pretty common adage in my circle of friends as many of us have children with health conditions.

  26. How did I never come across your writing until now ? I feel so heartened by your words/wit. I nodded at every point of your list. I hope you don’t mind me borrowing it for a reference point as I always find my mind on holiday with mum friends with whom some fundamentals are entirely in contrast to my own. Social struggles. Wine, coffee. very yes please…. Thank you, Thank you.