Seven Stages of Making a Mum Friend: guest post

Kate Rowe is one helluva wonderful woman. We met when she was doing teacher training at our school (she’s a darned good teacher BTW) and we have been friends since. It’s hard to explain the seventy different ways this woman is ace, but one shining example is that the night before Alex’s ear op she popped over with her young baby on her hip and a freshly baked cake. This cake was double fudge chocolate, professionally iced, bloody delicious and had an ‘A’ on top. I was extremely touched. Alex was extremely happy! Kate’s a darned good baker, too.

So here she is, in the early throws of motherhood, making me laugh as always and being good at another thing: writing hilariously about making mum friends.

The Seven Stages of Making a Mum Friend

  1. Join a baby group.

Honestly they do help. It gets you out of the house, forces you to brush your hair and allows you to breathe air shared with other humans who are bigger than a cat. There are some awesome ones out there too and many of them are offered for free by your local Children’s Centre.

  1. Seek out the mum who has the same outlook as you.

For me it was the other mum who was rolling her eyes and fumbling the baby sign language to ‘Say Hello to the Sun’. Our eyes met across the play mat with a mutual appreciation to the ridiculousness of where our lives had led us.

  1. Sit next to new mum at next class, but play it cool.

Babies provide a brilliant opportunity for conversation. Everyone loves talking about their baby. Slowly introduce personal detail about your life, I have found that mothers-in-law can be a great topic!

  1. Ask new mum for a casual after class lunch.

Practise how you will ask all week, trying out different variations on your long-suffering husband. Throughout the class have nervous butterflies, waiting for the ideal opportunity to ask, in a super causal voice, ‘So how about lunch next week after the class?’

  1. Carefully select lunch spot.

Pick somewhere close by, with enough other people to make an cheerful atmosphere that can cover any awkward gaps in conversation.

  1. ‘Mum, I think she wants to be my friend!’

Ring your mum to celebrate the fact that there were no pauses, that you talked for three hours and that you both didn’t realise the time. Bonus: you can both celebrate that you didn’t get tickets despite going over the parking meter by an hour, even more in common!

  1. The Facebook add.

Find them on Facebook and add with a baby question as an excuse. Now it’s Facebook official, you’ve done it. You have made a new mum friend! Pretty much guaranteed your babies will get married and you’ll probably end up being family now.

 

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Kate (left) playing it cool with her new mum friend.

How to Parent (according to Google images)

Pregnancy 


Well, this looks easy enough. Pregnant women just need to cup their bump and smile a lot. I mean, I guess I didn’t exactly nail this in my pregnancy: I just bemoaned my enormous bump and sweated a lot. I also forgot to stand in front of windows and look at my feet. Shit. I wonder whether I was really pregnant at all?

Childbirth



Well this definitely looks a bit harder but super excited to see men have the option to wear a suit on delivery suite. It kind of seems like women have to birth on their backs whilst men pet them on the head.  

Google also helpfully suggests ‘Graphic’ as a search option and my birth was defo graphic so I probably did it right. Despite the fact I was on all fours, mooing like a cow and screaming at my husband to stop bloody touching me. 

Also, isn’t that a scene from Alien top right? That sets some fairly unhelpful expectations. 

Breastfeeding 


This looks easy peasy: you just put on a white top and laugh. Nice one! 

I wore a grimace and a giant pair of maternity pants whilst I breastfed but then I was crap at breastfeeding so perhaps that was my problem all along. 

Being new parents 


Wowza Google- having a newborn is a real hoot! Maybe they’re all laughing about their decisions to buy white furniture and wear white clothes and, in fact, be predominantly white. How fascinating! I’m off to tug on a white shirt and smile at my husband. And maybe try for a third so this time I can spend the early days giggling rather than weeping and throwing breast pumps at the TV like I did previously. Whoops!
Thanks Google images for showing me the errors of my ways and teaching the next generation of mothers how to excel at the early days of parenting. Where would be without you?!

11 Signs the Summer’s Over

1) You and your beloved are back to TV dinners and sniping about washing up. 

2) You start to like your children a little bit more now you barely see them. 

3) You have to set a reminder on your phone for school pick up. 

Obviously this isn’t a year-round problem.
4) Your knowledge of current affairs is back up to ‘Acceptable’ now you’ve got a commute and some one on one time with Radio Four. 

5) You’ve forgotten your login password, photocopier code and all your work clothes feel tight

6) You’re back in waterproofs and having a blast wrestling under fives in to all-in-ones 

The face says it all.
7)  You know the exact date, time and minute your September pay cheque goes in. 

8) There’s a distinct rise in iPad usage as you need them to pipe down whilst you answer work emails. 

Just how I like them- hypnotised by the light of the iPad
9) Any remnants of tans are flaky, patchy and hidden under jeans. 

10) You’ll bump in to someone you’ve not seen for ages and you WILL have this conversation 

Them: ‘How was your summer!?’

You: ‘Ooh lovely thanks. Kids were a nightmare though. You?’

Them: ‘Good thanks. Seems like a lifetime ago though doesn’t it?’

You: ‘Yeah’

Them: ‘Yeah…’
11) Someone, some where, will ask you about Christmas. 

Where I go in my mind when someone asks me about Christmas

Five Signs You’ve Survived the First Week of Summer Hols

1) There is so much washing

So, so much washing. All the washing. 

2) You’re skint

You’ve done swimming, steam trains, soft play, lunch dates, the zoo. You’re brassick and you’ve still got to rustle up spending money for your hols and the pound’s fucked. 

3) Your internet pages look like this 


4) Your recycling bin looks like this 

Booze. Coffee. Comfort food. 

5) Your evening looks like this 


Happy holidays, dudes!

Parenting Snakes and Ladders

Welcome to this exciting game. Choose a colour that doesn’t show the stains and let’s play!

Get everyone up, fed, shoed and out the door in time for the school run. 

Move forward three spaces and move quickly not unless you’ll miss the bell. 

Realise no one has had their teeth brushed. 

Shrug and remember they’ll grow another set. Shame on you for thinking that! Fall back two spaces!

Realise you’ve done three hours of the day with toddler breakfast wept on to your shoulder. 

Take two steps forward to the washing machine then three steps back to laundry basket to sniff-test another top to put on. 

Take toddler to a gymnastics class. 

Shimmy  forward two spaces. 

Piss yourself on the gymnastics trampoline. 

Serves you right, you smug twat. Slink back two spaces. 

Lunch is chocolate cake, Quavers and Paw Patrol. 

Go back two spaces and have a word with yourself. 

School pick up success! Someone spoke to you in the play ground and you respected boundaries and social norms! 

Skip forward four spaces hand in hand with your new friend. Let go of her hand or move back another space, needy!

Remember you’ve booked the kid a haircut and kid behaves immaculately throughout. 

Move forward two spaces: one for booking it, another for raising such a well behaved child. 

Haircut has exposed tan lines. You are negligent and now your child will get skin cancer/be really moley like you. 

Move back in time two months and apply suncream. 


It’s supper time- one nibbles elegantly on home-grown strawberries, the other refuses to eat anything other than Kinder Eggs. 

Make a move like parenting: one step forward, one step back.

 

Move forward a space for every thing you do that results in survival between 4pm and bedtime. 

Bedtime!

You win at Parenting Snakes and Ladders! 

Your prize is a spritzer and two episodes of 24 before bed. 

Great game! See you at 5am for another round!

Hot Spots of Loneliness

I write a regular blog post for Meet Other Mums and was asked to pop up some posters advertising the site. It made me think of all the places I visited with a newborn and which of them made me feel the most alone. It wasn’t the cheeriest train of thought but however outgoing, lively, popular, busy or vibrant you are, as a new parent there will be times when you feel side-swiped with loneliness. So I chuffed around Norwich with my posters and flamingo pins and I revisited all those places that made me feel the most overwhelmed and alone. Here’s the list and be sure to smile at any new parent you see at these places.

The Doctors’ Waiting Room

Going to the docs’ is bad at the best of times. No one likes the hushed tones, the oppressive heat, the panic when you didn’t hear if it was your name being called (‘Could bzzzz come to room bzzz for doctor bzzzz please?’). It’s stressful enough to navigate the fierce receptionists and disease-riddled copies of Saga Life magazine. When you add a screaming newborn and a bitching dose of mastitis then you are guaranteed to never have felt more alone. You wish your mum was there.

The Library Play Group

You feel duty-bound to take your child to the Read and Rhyme session at the library. A stash of library books signals you’re doing ok, right? Your kid will def have a head start if it can sing Frere Jacques, right? So you spend the morning prepping for the trip. You’ve remembered the buggy, the rain cover, the expressed milk, and the baby. You forget the library card and that makes you late. You have to squeeze on the edge of the circle and you slump down, just on the outskirts of the group, in a tiz of sweat and nappy bags. Everyone seems to know each other. You’re too self-conscious to sing so you mime the words. You cry in the car on the way home.

The Supermarket

Now, a kid-free trip up the ‘big Tescos’ can feel akin to a mooch in Milan. With a kid, not so much. Some dickhead would’ve taken the last Parent and Child spot so you’ll have to schlep your child across the car park and the baby’s squawking in it’s car seat which is the heaviest thing you’ll ever carry and it’s banging against your hip and you’re already feeling like a failure because you’ve forgotten to bring any bags. Some old person will always tut and helpfully mutter ‘someone’s tired’ and you’ll shout ‘NO SHIT’ really loudly in your head. You might even torture yourself by morosely shunting the trolley through the clothes aisle hoping to find something that would fit, hide the puffiness and make you feel good. You realise you’ll have more luck with the latter in the bakery aisle. You’ll have a really lovely chat with the person on the checkout: they’re usually women, they’ve almost always had children and they always just seem to get it. As you walk back to the car from the trolley park, you think how that’ll be the last conversation you have today until your partner gets back from work.

Social Media

You feel like a teenager when you realise social media makes you feel inferior. You should be above all that, should’ve out-grown it. But when you see all the vloggers, bloggers and buggers meeting up, winning awards and wearing cool slogan tshirts, you feel a key stage three sense of envy . You want to pose against a wall and drink cocktails and have a fringe. Social media manages to make you feel like everyone’s in the cool gang and you’re not invited. You buy a new red lipstick and practise your selfies with a sense of self-loathing.

Cafes

You’ve arranged to meet someone you met at a baby group in the early days. You’ve stayed in touch  sporadically since you first met in a musty village hall. Maybe she’s gone back to work and you haven’t. You feel like she’s got a million interesting things to talk about. You desperately think of things to ask her while you pick food off the floor and try to stop the baby from banging its Lamaze toy against the table. You look at your watch and think about making your excuses but only 40 minutes has passed. Will she think you’re being rude? You just want to go home and put your joggers on. You smile and ask her about her commute.

loneliness.JPG
You can be a member of the best team in the world, but still feel lonely.

Feeling blue? Pop me a message and we can meet for a walk or a cuppa. We don’t even have to chat- we can just eat our feelings and have a little cry.

Ranking the Rankness

I am rank. I don’t shower every day. The best thing anyone’s every taught me is how to wash with just one Wet Wipe. I never change my bed sheets. I squeeze my spots. I’ve had the same mascara since year 9. I am rank.

These truths have ever been thus. Even before children. And now I’ve two little scuzzbags to add to the mix things have deteriorated further.

So, to celebrate just over 33 years of being rank, I have ranked the top three rank parts of my home. Enjoy

Bronze Award…the top of the buggy

This useful fold in the buggy hood houses a full range of rankness: old nappies, half-chewed snacks, wet wipes saturated in spilt yoghurt. Any number of foul things get tucked in to this fold until I pass a bin. Felt some full on shame on the school run when it started to rain and I had to unpeel this hood with a wafty crackle. Lowest moment was def finding a cheesy bottle of milk festering in there for a bout of the summer. Gag.

Give you a quid if you lick it?

Silver Award…Car Seat

I always marvelled at how much my food-refusing toddler would eat in the car. I’d sling handful of snacks at him and he’d beg for more. When the warmth of summer cooked up a foul stench from my Citroen I snapped on a bio hazard suit and revved up the Dyson and unearthed layers of snacks like sediment rock. Wotsits, oat bars, Pom Bears, Smarties, apple slices*, Chipstix and cake were carefully wedged in to the buckle gap and slipped between car seats and squiged in to the door. It was foul.

*not really- just put that in there so you’d think he got healthy snacks from time to time.

This is what was under it.
Gold Award…bottom of bags

I reckon I have lost WELL over £15 worth of loose change because I haven’t been able to bring myself to dip my hand in to the foulness that is the bottom of a well-used day out bag. I have never been one of those nappy bag users so always relied on slinging snacks and nappies in to a cotton shopper. Sometimes I forget to unpack the last one and just dig out another for the next outing. What happens is that the crumbs and crud left in the previous one start to rot and congeal. What’s left at the bottom is the Eau de Parfum-the essential oils- of parenting: sand, old satsuma, piss-soaked nappy, crumbled fruit bar, and a car caked in cake. Mmmm mmm. Early on, I was scraping formula power off a £2 coin when I had an epiphany: I would pay £2.50 not to be doing this. Since then, I’ve not looked back l and now just let those loose coins jingle until my five year old wants a Ninjago magazine and then I tell him he can have any cash he finds in the bottom of the bag. I may be rank, but I’m clearly a genius.

So there you have it- my full rankness laid bare. Leave in the comments the rankest thing you’ve ever done or how much you’d pay someone to defumigate your car or if you’ve ever licked someone’s blister for a dare and so on.