by Lou Kenny
If you’re reading this, chances are you’ve already absorbed an absolute plethora of articles about all aspects of motherhood. Baby wearing. Co sleeping. Breast vs bottle. Cloth nappies. Baby led weaning. Making your own baby food. Sleeping. Not sleeping. Poo in all colours of the rainbow. If these laws concerning monitoring what sites we look at on the internet actually come into play I may be getting a knock on the door from a government agency in regards to some of my more bizarre Google search strings. Poo + yelling + dog lick + yoghurt, anyone?
One topic that I’ve read quite a lot about is the art of making friends with other mothers. I’ve never particularly struggled with making friends; I like to think of myself as a combination of eccentric and ridiculous, with the occasional hint of idiot savant style genius. Since becoming a mother, however, I will readily admit that I have found it difficult making friends with other mothers. To help you, a person who is probably far more socially adept than I am, I have come up with a handy list of pitfalls to avoid.
1. Do not be yourself.
Accept that you are weird now. You live in baby land – you make up songs about everything, you act out your daily routine in wild gestures, you are either always very loud and engaging or very quiet and you smell of desperation and milk. Push these aspects of your personality right down and take a pause before eagerly jumping in to any conversation. Case in point – when the group at Gymbaroo was discussing the royal family and I happily bounced in with ‘Hey, remember when Prince Charles told Camilla that he wanted to be her tampon?’
2. Do not offer unnecessary or unasked for advice.
You know what’s nice? Commiseration and empathy. “Little Bastille (I live in a weird area) not sleeping still? Oh that sucks. Would you like one of my Golden Roughs?” Appropriate. “Oh, is Edvard Von Crumperling starting to sit up? Make sure you put soft things behind him in case he falls.”
Really? REALLY? IN CASE HE FALLS? A SOFT THING? REALLY?
Don’t do this, it makes you an self righteous.
3. Do not make concrete plans if you’re not in a great place to keep them.
I know what you’re going through. You just tearily walked past a group of mothers looking like something out of the ‘We’re Better Than You’ catalogue, having their bloody blueberry friands while their babies are napping like idiots in their super expensive prams.
Forget that infuriating image. They’ve had just as many bad days as you have. You’ve just happened to pass them when they’re having a good one.
If it’s a bad week, tell your friends. “I don’t know if I can go out to lunch this week. November Rain has been teething and I haven’t slept in days and my husband will not stop farting and I am just at the end of my rope”. If they’re cool, they’ll come round with a meat pie and pat your head while you cry into it. If they suck, you know where they get their friands. If you keep making plans and keep cancelling them on the day, however, people are eventually going to be reluctant to ask you to hang out with them again. Try to be honest and try to be realistic about what you and your little dude are capable of.
4. Don’t be smug.
I admit that I quit my mothers’ group. Shockingly, it wasn’t because I know everything. It was because it was full of smug rubbish like this –
“I just find that I have nothing to do. She’s sleeping for solid two hours at a time at only five weeks old. There’s only so much sewing and looming that one girl can do!”
“It was only really when I started thinking about it that I realised that we have to throw out our televisions and smart phones. I don’t want my child having any screen time until she is five years old. I don’t even want her to see a screen. Or to see a reflection in a screen. In fact, no books either. It will be all oral history and interpretative dance.”
“My baby was sleeping through the night before she was even born. Have you tried making your breastmilk more organic? Just roll around in the dirt and rub leaves all over your face.”
Give me a bucket. Being a smug wanker is probably the quickest way to make sure that no one wants to come over to your house for little mum dates. Recognise that if you have it easy, others may not, and hearing about how great you are might make them imagine force-feeding your rude organic head Hungry Jacks until you explode.
If you are struggling with making mum friends, the Internet can be a great resource. There’s heaps of sites (this one included!) where you can make real connections with other mums and get great advice without running into any of the above-mentioned fools. If you’re lucky, it might even help you get back in touch with people who knew you before you had mashed banana in your hair and they may have had kids themselves.
Good luck and remember, when in doubt, don’t talk about tampons.