Mother (Almost Never) Knows Best: Mummy Friends: I Ain't Missing You At All

Tuesday, 3 April 2018

Mummy Friends: I Ain't Missing You At All

Having spent not an inconsiderable number of weekends at children's birthday parties of late, I have started to notice some chasmic differences between the social skills of toddlers and their parents. I think it is fair to say that they are far better equipped than we are.

"Come on Mummy! It's not that bad!"

At the age of 4, children are invited to a range of parties of various formats by anyone from close family through best friends to mere casual acquaintances and they burst into each new environment with the same relentless enthusiasm. They may cling to your leg for the first five minutes but once they spot an opening, a potential void that they can fill in the social scene, you won't see them for dust. This role can be anything from befriending someone who is playing on their own, making a silly face to the group at the right time or playing it cool and waiting for the others to show interest.

Play it cool Kid, play it cool

Meanwhile, the adults (for the first time that day) are actually loathed to part with their offspring. We hide behind them, using them as a prop in our conversations with the other adults who we are only used to seeing briefly at the nursery door; acknowledging them with a throw away remark or false promises of play dates as we usher our children towards the door.

Mimicking his mother's social skills

Personally, I appear to have reached my fourth year of parenting without having forged any "mum friend" relationships. I, obviously, have friends who are also mums but these alliances are based on shared historical experiences and interactions; they are rooted in a time when sleep was only forsaken for a good time to be had, dry clean only garments were still being regularly worn and my pelvic floor was firmly rooted in my pelvis. Magical times. Our shared experiences of having procreated (not together) and attempts at trying to raise law-abiding citizens merely act to unify us further.

Some people know too much

The truth is, I find it hard to forge new friendships; it really is quite exhausting. I fear that prior to be engaged in conversation, I have a resting facial expression which imparts a stand- offish, cool demeanor (cool being cold and by no means fashionable or trendy; my active wear and terrible taste in music quickly sees to dispelling any misplaced belief that that may be the case) and if someone actually tries to interact with me my nervous attempts at humour can come across as snarky which I will then try to diffuse with a quick reassuring arm touch. As an interesting side point, my husband actually believed me to be in love with him for years prior to my actually loving him as I used to touch his arm after insulting him. Perhaps I should be rethinking this tactic?

Anyway, with my daughter's alternative start to life, I never actually joined any Mummy-Baby groups and I couldn't face NCT for the fear of constant comparisons about weight, milestones, weaning, pooping and likelihood of running the country knowing that mine would likely fall behind in all (being more likely to mount a revolution). My first maternity leave really was quite miserable.

Despite being "showered" with affection
When my son came along, all robust and such, I had a two year old to contend with so all the baby sensory/massage/tai chi groups were no longer an option. When I did manage to go to exercise groups or library rhyme time I would issue smiles and conspiratorial glances at mothers who appeared just on the right side of disorganised for my liking but I never quite managed to make that transition from passing acquaintance to coffee, cake and care free venting about our children.

He does let me vent
From a loneliness perspective, I am by no means lonely as thankfully my friends of old are unshakeable (much like herpes) and ever present but my concern lies in August; for in August the school gates beckon me. 

School Gates: Terrifying parents since the formal education system began

I had better get practising my welcoming smile.

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