Mum pals – it’s a tribal thing
Having a baby is scary enough so imagine the ordeal of meeting new mums too? Emily Bridgewater joins the tribe. . .
Becoming a first-time mum is a lot like starting university. In those first few weeks – what would be freshers’ weeks at uni – you find yourself scrabbling around in a sleep-deprived, vomit-fragranced fog.
You’ll be trying to work out how much water to put in a Tommee Tippee Perfect Prep Machine rather than into a Chicken & Mushroom Pot Noodle but the overwhelming out-of-my depth feelings are much the same.
And no matter how little you thought you’d need them, you’ll suddenly be desperately seeking mum friends. I know, pass the bucket now.
Much like those early uni days, you’ll immediately attach yourself to the next woman who also has her boobs hanging out. If it was the girl in the next room in your halls of residence, in this phase of life, it’ll be the first woman you plonk yourself down next to at baby massage/Rhythm Time/post pregnancy pelvic floor-tightening exercise class.
You’ll find yourself eagerly looking around for other women who are also lingering long after the class is finished, desperate to ‘go for coffee’ and extend the time spent outside of the insanity of your own four walls.
And for a while you’ll cling to one another through the commonality that you both created a human life – a ‘we’re in the same halls and we’ll be friends for life’ mentality.
But the cracks will start to show as you discover your new bestie is a synthetic-Dr Martens-wearing vegan who you have to hide your vintage fur coat and bumper pack of bacon from.
Or in this case, a terry towel nappy and baby-led weaning-mantra chanting tyrant.
Eventually you’ll find yourself gravitating towards like-minded women: you’ll find your mum tribe. It’s human nature to seek validity from people like you, it confirms that you’re doing OK.
There’s the glossy, former-captain of the hockey team-type girls, who blossom into the mums who’ve booked their child’s private pre-school place on the moment of conception. Entirely dressed by Joules or The White Company, these mums know how to rock a fur-lined gillet and a professional blow-dry and between feeding their little one a Hix organic lamb tagine pouch, they’re working with their architect on Grand Design-syle plans for their already enormous house. Hubby has undoubtedly just been made a partner in a law firm, or consultant doctor.
Then there are the professional mums, who take the entire business very seriously, will still be breast-feeding, co-sleeping and carrying their kids in an organic, Fair Trade cotton sling when they are 14. Hairbrushes and any interest in fashion will be banished, along with their husband from the marital bed.
The older first-time mums (otherwise known as mature students) cluster together, confident in the knowledge that baby number one will be the only one, all sharing their disbelief, gratitude and collective this-is-blooming-hard-at-43.
And then there are the repeat offenders; the mums who are on to baby number four, five, six. They are the equivalent of those PhD students, who’ve been at uni for eight years and are head of the Student Union, with no sign of leaving any time soon. First-timers treat repeat offenders with a mixture of awe and horror; surely these women want to graduate from the bone-numbing tiredness of the newborn days and get on with life again? Or not.
So what about the rest of us? The ‘winging it’ brigade – of which I’m a fully subscribed member. We’re identifiable because while we still wear mascara but sometimes walk round unknowingly with yoghurt on our top. We read to our children but also appreciate the peace that an hour (or two) of CBeebies brings. We tried to carry our babies in a sling but – despite watching at least 11 YouTube videos explaining how to wear them – could never get it right, so traded them in for a new pair of heels from John Lewis.
But there’s no right tribe, only a tribe that’s right for you because once you find yours you’ll have friends for life – just like those you made at university.