The dynamics of my friendship circles have changed considerably since having children. As the first of most of our friends to have children, Husband Dearest and I often find ourselves frustrated with the situation we’ve bestowed upon ourselves. But sometimes, if we step back and look carefully at our lives, we really do have the best of both worlds.
Why I love my post-baby mummy friends
You don’t look disgusted when I rock up with vomit on my leggings. Most likely, you’re already sporting some snot and perhaps even a fleck of faeces.
You can still look me in the eye and hold a conversation when I breastfeed. You’re not weirded out that I’m not weirded out by getting my tits out in public. You may even comment on the monstrous nipples, and share stories of spraying spouses in the face with breast milk.
If I’m having a bad day, you can sense it – no words needed. This is one of the things I love about you all the most. You will make sure I have some chocolate, some space and an ear to listen, should I need it. But you don’t fuss. You get that sometimes we just need silence and a dark room but sometimes we just need to rant. And when it’s over, you forget it all. God, I love you for that.
You aren’t appalled and you don’t try to ring social services if I swear about my monsters. I can call them little shits, tell them to fuck off and make wanker signs behind their back, and most likely you’ll just outdo me with your vile language. My favourite was ** referring to her son as a ‘c**tyfaced baby’. She shall remain anonymous, just in case any readers are exceedingly offended. But if it’s any consolation, it sounds as though the behaviour displayed by said c**tyfaced baby was fairly c**tyfaced.
If I have the luxury of having a hot drink, being deep in conversation or am generally whacked, you take over the role of parenting for me. You’ll chase after Monster Major before he smacks another child, you’ll stop Monster Minor eating moss and feathers, you’ll discipline them if they behave twattily and, for this you’re heroes, you’ll change stinky nappies without a second thought. When Husband Dearest and I are around you guys, we don’t feel that overwhelming burden of parenthood. We feel like humans with kiddies, and the share and share alike approach to each other’s ragamuffins is so liberating. *
You have open door policies. Whilst I am remarkably impressed and forever in awe of the clean conditions your houses seem to be in, you don’t care whether your house is pristine before we turn up. There’s always coffee in the pot and a sympathetic (though not too pitying) smile. I don’t need to worry about bringing toys, food or even clean clothes, as I know that we’re all fully stocked mini-Mothercares. And if
when life gets really bad, there’s always one of you happy to have the monsters for as long as I need to pull myself together again.
One of you always has baby wipes.
You get that suggesting to meet at a restaurant at 8pm is totally undoable. You suggest we meet at Cottonbudz on a Sunday morning, or the park at 4pm to allow the tyrants to run themselves into the ground. You have no shame in allowing our timetables to be dictated by nap times. And for that, you make life infinitely easier.
You have other halves that make Husband Dearest feel like a person and a parent at the same time. If I think motherhood can be lonely, I reckon fatherhood can be totally isolating. Mums have maternity leave, baby groups, midwife check-ups – plenty to ensure we’re ok and to give us time to establish our new selves and to try to form a kinship with others. There’s a plethora of websites, blogs, magazines and programmes, dedicated to helping us and making us feel as though we’re doing the right thing. For dads? Near enough zilch. Yet you guys have menfolk who showed Husband Dearest that it’s ok to be besotted by your offspring. It’s not totally sad to want to talk for ten minutes about your little one’s near-but-not-quite first steps. It’s ok to not really know what the fuck you’re doing, but do it anyway. And, most importantly, that, in spite of having to settle down into family life (meaning, life after 6pm ceases), you still have worth as a human being. I saw a new spark ignited in Husband Dearest when he became part of this brotherhood. So thank you.
You see me at my lowest, most disgusting, most hormonal, most angry, most emotional, most unwell state, and you still want to be my friend. Two of you have seen me as down as I’ll ever be in my life, and the next day you allowed me to carry on as if nothing happened. For that, I’ll love you forever, you beautiful, beautiful ladies
*This sounds a bit commune-like. Please be assured, the sharing responsibilities stops at breastfeeding. I’ve never stuck my boob in someone else’s child’s mouth. That I’m aware of, anyway.
Why I love my pre-baby friends
You remember what I looked like before my thighs rubbed together, my stomach had a frontal flap, my boobs resembled used condoms and before my vagina had been sewn back together (twice). I like to think that, on some level, that memory still lives on when I’m with you guys, and that, somewhere, you still see the size 8, grey-hair free girl that didn’t wee when she sneezed.
Likewise, you remember me when I was fun. Before I had to become sensible and serious and say things like ‘Where should wee – wees go?’ and ‘Could you use your kind voice and ask again?’ You know me for my amazing ability to lick Martini off the kitchen floor and snog girls. And so when you see me nowadays, you expect no less. Which gives me the opportunity to return to my pre-baby talents of force-feeding friends shots and mixing the most potent cough-syrup and absinthe cocktails you’ve ever tasted. And, goodness me, I love doing that.
You don’t do baby things, so when I’m around you guys I’m forced to dress up and wear make up and generally make an effort. This reminds me that I am someone other than just a Mummy of Monsters, and (despite complaining that this means I’ll actually have to shower) I quite like feeling like my old self, from time – to – time.
You aren’t so interested in talking weaning, potty-training and choice of childcare. Which forces me to brush up on on my wit and knowledge of current affairs. In turn, this allows me to survive as part of the world at large and not just part of my mummy-bubble. That’s definitely a good thing.
You don’t want to hear how little sleep I’ve had, how much toddler tantrums are getting me down or how my insides feel like they’ll fall out of my arse if I stand up too quickly. This isn’t because you’re selfish, it’s because it’s not part of your world at the moment. And that forces me to man the fuck up and get over myself. And I really, really do need to get over myself at times.
You’re really cool. So when I’m with you, I can pretend I’m cool too. We all know I’m as uncool as they come, but, for a few hours, you humour me, and I feel like the man on the Money Supermarket advert dancing to the Pussycat Dolls.
You know my love for Virgin TV karaoke, have witnessed me butcher too many bad-ass rap songs, and you still want to be my friend. Hats off to you.
You watched Husband Dearest and myself become the people we are today. It’s been such a journey and you’ve all been a part of it at some point. You’re all in some fabulous memories (though many I’d rather forget *coughtrainstationtoiletscough* ) and that’s so lovely.
You come with me when I need to go and express milk in the toilets when we’re out. And then you hold my hair back when I return there later to chuck my guts up.
When we said we were engaged, having a baby, and then having
an accident another baby, you were fine with it. Even though it was never what you guys would have done, you never said a negative word to us about our decisions.
You’ve stood the test of time and want to know me, even though I’m flaky, usually smell bad, often late and mostly pass out by 10.30.
We’re blessed with a life full of incredible friends, and not a day goes by where you aren’t part of the blessings we count.
And to J.L., that one friend who went from pre-baby to post-baby almost simultaneously with me, I love you the most. x