The agony and the ecstasy of making new mum friends
My palms are sweaty. Knees creak, arms are heavy. There’s vomit on my sweater already – my kid’s spaghetti … I’m nervous, but on the surface I look calm and ready…
But this is the third time you’ve seen her here, and if you don’t say ‘hi’ then shit is gonna get weird.
It’s already weird – she’s caught you staring at her. AGAIN. But she’s wearing those cool boots, and you’ve never seen that nappy bag in that colour before. Plus you’re in awe of the way she just swore so profusely under her breath at the barista for putting too much foam on her flat white, through a smile as bright as the sun.
“It’s a flat white not a fucking latte, you goddamn hairy hipster.”
Oh shit. You’ve just scored yourself a mum crush.
Welcome to the agony and the ecstasy of making new mum friends.
Flashback to high school
As a little kid, making friends comes down to only two or three factors – is this person a similar size to me? Does this person like running around and yelling for no reason? Is this person in the same place as me right at this very moment? Answer ‘yes’ to all three questions and it’s game on.
Making friends becomes a much trickier prospect. Bitchiness is rampant and mean girls are everywhere. You begin to feel judged about everything from your fashion sense to your family’s car, and learning who you can trust and who is likely to stab you in the back is harder than you might think.
Making grown-up friends is even worse
Trying to make friends as a mum is, like, the worst.
Even though you are now officially in charge of keeping various small humans alive, making new friends as a mum can still feel like one of your biggest challenges.
There’s still plenty of judgement (whether real or perceived), there are cliques, there are the ‘cool mums’, and there are strange rules that you may never understand.
But then one day it happens – you finally work up the courage to start up a conversation with a mum you’ve had your eye on for a while, and you click. Sparks fly, conversation flows, and all of a sudden you’re basking in the warm glow of a mum crush.
Worse than dating
These magical moments never last long. There’s always an arse to be wiped, or a Band-Aid to be applied to an imaginary wound. You swap numbers, promising to catch up again soon.
Days go by and nothing … why hasn’t she messaged? Did you go in too hard too fast, talking about your cracked nipples? Is she waiting for you to make the first move? Or is she just not that into you?
You think about Facebook friending her, but then you realise you don’t even know her last name … and you don’t think “Sally, Ethan’s mum” would produce any meaningful online search results.
It’s agony. The waiting. The not knowing.
Too good to be true?
But then she cancels. Not once, but twice. And then you have to cancel. Bloody kids, ruining everything.
You start to second-guess what you had. Was it real? Did you imagine it?
But then – finally – after only 17 cancelled and rescheduled dates, you meet up again. And it is glorious. She is you. She is you, with a nice bag and great boots. You even having matching vomit on your tops.
This. Is. Really. Happening!
The ‘big reveal’
But now the anxiety sets in again. You went into this relationship guns blazing, with your funniest anecdotes of parenting mishaps, your wittiest remarks about the current political situation, and your most intelligent responses to questions about school catchment areas.
So when is the right time to show her the real you? The you that thought it was Tuesday until 4.30pm on Wednesday, and subsequently fucked up a whole lotta people’s days? The you that doesn’t actually give two shits about whether the local indoor play centre serves locally sourced organic food options, but is very concerned that it doesn’t have a bar? The you that is watching First Dates while everyone else is watching House of Cards?
It is a complicated dance, this big reveal.
Slowly, painstakingly, piece-by-piece, you each remove your various bits of ‘mum-armour’, until you’re standing together, exposed and vulnerable, with all of your scars and flaws and insecurities on display.
And then you laugh ‘til you cry, or cry ‘til you laugh.
This, my friends, is the moment of ecstasy we are all searching for in our hunt for new mum friends. That moment of true connection with a new friend who likes you – in the words of Mark Darcy – just as you are.
Did you find it difficult to make new friends as a mum? Or did having kids make it easier?
This post was first published on Kidspot.