I’m good at being on my own, I always have been. Growing up as an only child in a small village: I needed to enjoy my own company & for the most part, I did. Don’t get me wrong, I had friends & I did see them regularly, but I didn’t rely upon them. As clichéd as it sounds, my Mum was my best friend & I was more than happy with that. Now, as I’m older, married & have very sadly lost my wonderful Mum, my husband Tim has taken on this role of being my Bestie. Lucky him! I know, more vom-inducing clichés! I love to talk to him about everything really & I’m sure an outsider would think we were absolute nutters if they heard even half of our eclectic topics of conversation. However sometimes, just sometimes, you need another perspective, another point of view, a female take on a situation & that’s when I start messaging ‘my squad’! I hate this expression, almost as much as I hate the term ‘Mummy friends’ if I’m being completely honest. When I was childless, this phrase used to make me physically shudder. I’m not sure why, but probably because it sounded like a secret exclusive club, that at the time, I never thought I would be in.
I was more than happy with the friends I had before Benjamin was born. My small circle was made up of: my oldest, dearest College friend, my fab holiday companion (from an eventful trip to India a few yeas ago) & two of my wonderful previous work colleagues. A couple of them were Mummies already; so I would ask them for advice if Google couldn’t supply the answer I was looking for. I thought no more friends were needed. I didn’t want to have to talk about myself ‘from scratch’ – akin to dating all over again. I was reluctant to attend Antenatal Classes & I remember Tim having to practically force me out the door to go to Baby Groups in the beginning. But as I look back over the last six months, I’ve realised that I have made three more close friends: two of them being much coveted ‘Mummy friends’ & one of them being my super neighbour, whom I never really knew until Benjamin was born. It always makes me smile that, in a crowded room, you can be drawn towards just one or two people & on some level they are drawn towards you – for reasons unknown at the time. This happened with my new pals…
Tim & I were sat in said Antenatal class, learning about breathing techniques, birth plans (lols!), pain relief & breastfeeding guidance with about ten other couples. We were easily in the top three of the eldest parents, no surprise there. After our visualisations, squeezing a knitted boobie & pulling plastic babies out of replica pelvises each week we were starving; so headed straight for the nearest Golden Arches to satisfy my Fillet O’ Fish craving at the time. We weren’t the only ones with the same idea, our new friends Alison & Richard had shared our thoughts. And that’s how we met. We have the same views on the same topics; including parenting values & we have had spookily similar life experiences. They are such easy-going & caring people, we could both listen to them for hours. Maybe our subconscious knew we would make great friends & we’ve stayed in touch ever since & I am sure that we always will. I love it that Benjamin has a little ‘girlfriend’ already in Amelia (he’s not allowed to date anyone else though. Ever.) And I also love the time that we all spend together. You know there’s a strong rapport when conversation is effortless. It can’t be the first friendship to have formed over a shared love of Maccy D’s sweet & sour sauce, surely?!
I met my second new close friend initially at one of the Baby Groups (that Tim had managed to persuade me to go to back in the early days). It was your standard: plastic toys scattered on the floor affair, large beanbags around the edge for the non-mobile babies (where I had positioned a sleeping Benjamin) & lots of cold tea/coffee for the stressed new Mummies who hadn’t slept the night before. Two ladies approached me & after the usual “hello, how old is your little one? Yes, he’s a big lad: his Daddy is 6’2” etc. etc.” I was asked, “Are you Tim Green’s wife?” They were both in the same year as him at school. This isn’t the first time that this has happened to me: it’s a small village & he was clearly a friendly boy?! I’m just praying that I won’t get asked, “Are you Benjamin Green’s Mum?” later on for similar reasons! Anyway, we had a lovely chat together & I thought no more of it. I didn’t go back to the group for a couple of weeks & didn’t ask for names/numbers. Then, one sweltering August morning I decided to take the boy for a walk – quite early because we were experiencing a massive heat wave & keeping Benjamin cool was a constant worry. That’s when I bumped into Claire. Again, we had much in common & we’ve been ‘baby group buddies’ & good friends ever since. I love her quick thinking & sound advice. I also love the little friendship that Albert & Benjamin have struck up already.
My new neighbour friend, Laura, came over one day to pick up a parcel (one of the ‘perks’ of maternity leave, you get to be a mini Post Office) & heard Benjamin grumbling, so we invited her in. He loves her cuddles & fuss (because Mumma & Daddy clearly don’t give him enough attention!) And we all love our new friendship. The four of us: her boyfriend Adam & Tim, have had many a night putting the world to rights over a bottle of bubbles, complete with baby monitor turned up extra loud.
I guess the point of my blog post is that I’ve realised that there is always room for more friends. Each friend has different qualities; different life experiences to draw from & can support you in different ways. I guess I’ve always known this. I’ve needed advice, guidance & reassurance over the last few weeks & I’ve known which friends (old & new) to turn to. They have made themselves available & have kept me sane. Many cuppas have been drunk & I can’t thank them enough, they are all superstars & I hope I can be there for them when they need a listening ear. I also hope I can show Benjamin the importance of friendship, being friendly & ultimately knowing who to trust. Although the latter is incredibly tricky even as an adult.
I can’t wait for Benjamin to grow up with Amelia & Albert. I really hope they form part of his ‘squad’, his ‘go to’ people for sound advice & support, just like their fab Mummies are for me…well who else can he ask which are the tastiest rusks & best spot for his Cow & Gate elevenses?