Referring to myself as a baby group dropout is slightly misleading, as I would have needed to have joined a baby group at some point or other in order to have dropped out in the first place, right? However, I have never. I never did antenatal classes, never joined any local baby groups and never did any local baby group activities just so I might meet some local baby mums. I was fortunate enough to fall pregnant a month after my best friend and we shared our maternity leave together. I had a real friend, that I had already had a real relationship with, that I could share this whole new motherhood experience with and for me, at that time, was enough. However, I doubt that even if I were to go it alone, that I would ever join a baby group. If you’re reading this as a new mum battling with yourself because the baby group life isn’t luring you in, then I hope this will help to ease some of your guilt. If you’re in the market for some mum friends and I mean real friendships, not someone to go on play dates with, then this should also help to reassure you of the fact that joining a baby group isn’t the only way to make friends once you become a mum.
It seems like the right thing to do. In fact, some might have it that you’re almost abnormal if you haven’t joined a baby group. However, I am nineteen months deep into motherhood and despite being a baby group drop out, I am deeply immersed in the motherhood community, probably more so than any of those people that made me feel like shit for not joining mother and baby anything and I can tell you right now, there are loads of us out there that have absolutely no desire to join those groups and are thriving and normal and completely non-judgemental.
Because, let’s be honest, it’s the judgement that makes us feel as though we should join, even if we don’t want to. If I only had a penny for every time someone told me I should join a baby group, I would probably be able to afford baby number two by now. I appreciated the advice, the first time round, but what I didn’t appreciate was the judgement that would creep into the conversation. Like I was some sort of a monster because I hadn’t joined a baby group. Admittedly, there might have been some judgement on my behalf too. I had an idea, possibly preconceived, of what baby groups might be like and from that conclusion I was able to judge that they weren’t for me. If I thought baby groups might involve talking about sex and fashion whilst drinking wine in a nice pub, then maybe I might have been up for it. Please don’t judge me as being shallow, but I didn’t want to leave my house to spend time with people I didn’t know at the risk of having to talk about motherhood and babies the whole time. Also, I am not in the business of being the ‘perfect mummy’ and I don’t want to rain on anyone else’s parade! And I know, I know, people have made life long friends from these groups and their husbands have become friends and their children are now god siblings and I could have met someone that I had loads in common with. Trust me, I have been told.
However, I am not one for small talk and throughout the early stages of motherhood, would have much rather hung out just me and my baby than kill time hanging out with women that I didn’t know, just because we all had babies. I would like to think it’s not because I am anti-social, although it might sound like it, not because I believed myself to be better than anyone or am even of belief that I am too old to make new friends. The reason for me is very simple, meeting people under such circumstances feels completely inorganic for me and I am not going to put myself out just for coffee and cake!
I once went to lunch at my local pub with one of my best friends and of course, my baby. I struggled in through the entrance with the ramp only to be faced with a group of mothers and their babies. On seeing me they immediately thought I might be there to join their group and then realised I had turned up with a friend. Nevertheless I said hi, we got to talking, did the whole, ‘I’ll show you mine if you show me yours’ thing with our babies and before I knew it, I had exchanged numbers with them all and had agreed to join their next meet up. I never went! Here’s another story for you; my aforementioned best friend who I shared my maternity leave with was really keen to rekindle old friendships with friends of ours that had also become mums. I was of the thinking that if the friendships were OLD they were OLD for a reason, otherwise we’d still be in each other’s lives. Nevertheless, I went along to these little meet-ups with the hope that they’d be good for me and Allegra. The first one I went to I took a bottle of Prosecco with me and I shit you not, I got looked upon as though I was out of my natural mind. I tagged along a few more times, feeling like this was the right thing to do and with the hope that eventually I would really see the benefit. But for me, it was stressful enough to get out of the house and once I did, I wanted it to be worth it. It never felt worth it. It just felt forced and strained and I soon stopped going.
Nineteen months into motherhood and with some hindsight, I can assure you, throughout my maternity leave I was not seeking out new friendships whatsoever. However, in the recent months, now I am comfortable in my skin, have set my sights on my goals and established the mother it is that I am, building new friendships with women that are mothers has just seemed like the next natural step. The operative word here being ‘natural’. And as I have become a part of the mummy blogging community, I have grown close enough to some of the women I engage with on a daily basis to want to meet up with them and I have done so. It has felt just as natural as going for drinks with a colleague from the office after work. In fact, in this digital age, it is probably the equivalent of. The fact that we are all mothers gives us a huge common ground, it defines our careers, but it’s not the definitive reason for the friendship. If you are in the market for new friends apps like Instagram can be a brilliant place to bring together like-minded mothers, as opposed to something as vague as mothers having their babies at the same time as you.
If you are like me, then your favourite mummy meet ups will be the ones with wine and are not necessarily with your children. If you are going to get together with a bunch of women for the first time that you don’t really know, then there had at least better be some alcohol! It also makes sense, if you truly are in the market to make some new friends that are mothers, to meet up without the children. At the end of the day, this is about you making friends and it’s almost impossible to really get to know someone or even have a proper conversation when you have a little person interrupting your every other sentence. More over, this isn’t about your baby, this is about you and having that time away from your baby, with your new friends will make you feel as though you have done something for yourself and that feels amazing. Once you’ve established the friendship and you get along, then you can have play dates (if you want!). But if what you’re looking for is a play date buddy, then I honestly think baby groups will suffice.
As a mum, and a stay at home mum at that, I can honestly say that being at home with Allegra is not enough for me. It’s why I have this blog and have built up this little online world that gives me a sense of purpose, allows me to stay creative and helps to keep alive the person that I was before I had Allegra. I have to see it as my job, my brand, my concept and all that good stuff because it’s this that keeps me sane. However, although I interact with people everyday online, at times it gets a little lonely and can even feel like this world isn’t actually real. Meeting those mums that I talk to everyday takes the relationships from Insta Friends to actual friends in the most, shockingly, natural way. There’s no time wasted on small talk, because we kind of already know each other from the gram, which I love! However, what I love most is, these are friendships made from the digital world I created by myself for myself, completely separate of me being a wife and a mum, nonetheless created whilst I have been a mum. That makes me feel proud. I am not knocking friendships made or mums who go to baby groups in the slightest, but to those that have ever knocked me, I am doing good and no mum guilt here in the slightest!
How to NOT Be the Perfect Mummy by THE REBEL MAMA
“At some point during the newborn haze, go searching for advice in all the mommy groups you can find on Facebook. Stay in them for as long as it takes to get a good feel for just how crazy the pursuit of perfection has driven the vast majority of moms these days and then RUN FOR THE HILLS in search of the rest of the mommy group drop-outs.” REBEL MAMA
Love MAP x
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