Becoming a Mum opens up lots of opportunities to meet new people and make new friends. Toddler groups, swimming lessons, ante-natal classes and baby gym are filled with adults shyly smiling at each other in a show of solidarity.
Often these encounters go no further than that, but sometimes they develop into the occasional coffee & cake meeting or a much needed adult conversation as the little people play.
Very rarely do they become anything else. In fact the older I get the more rare I think it is to meet someone that you feel has become a true friend, someone that understands, accepts and loves you for who you are and who you feel you would never run out of things to talk about.
I met Hannah at an ante-natal yoga class and we took the same NCT ante-natal class, with 6 others who are all lovely and who I still see regularly, but Hannah and I just seemed to click with each other. Her daughter, Abi, was born 2 weeks after MM.
We bonded over lack of sleep, as one by one the rest of the babies in the group began to sleep though the night and we were still woken numerous times and spent many hours in dark rooms helping our babies make friends with sleep.
As the six month mark passed and the others stopped breastfeeding, we continued and gradually conversations weren’t always about babies. We learnt about each others work, families, childhood and all the other things that let you really get to know someone.
I knew when I heard something funny or something about babies that I thought was outrageous that she would too. She liked cake and coffee and a drink, we escaped for the occasional Sunday afternoon trip to the pub, leaving the Dads in charge, who incidentally also got on.
We had similar ideas about parenthood, we co-slept with our babies, tried baby-led weaning, were not as strict as many of my other friends. She made me a better mother, as I watched her patience and energy with her high-spirited daughter and her constant positivity made me focus on the good things and not the challenges, although it did make me want to throttle her sometimes. I learnt to truly appreciate that although MM didn’t sleep and needs quite a lot of stimulation and interaction, these were small prices to pay for such a confident, good natured boy that he has become.
MM and Abi became aware of each other and suddenly were playing chase, holding hands, saying each others names and playing together like proper friends. They made each other laugh, rushed over to each other at groups and splashed each other at swimming lessons. They may not be best friends for life but Abi will always be MM’s first friend.
As the New Year has started, MM and I have got back to our old routine, but there is something missing. My friend has jetted off to the sun, a year, or maybe two, in California for her husband’s job. It’s going to be a fantastic experience for all of them and I know it will be one they will love and will treasure forever, but I miss them.
It’s strange not having that person there to exchange a knowing look or chat about the things that are great about this mothering thing and to be honest about the things that are not so good.
The modern age means we can still connect by e-mail and the babies will even be able to see each other on Skype and I will be making lots of effort to do this. People who you click with are rare and should be held onto with both hands.