I am Some Old Friends, Some New Mum

It’s International Friendship Day.
 
Many of us have probably found over the years, that our friends change. The friends we had at school, who we could NEVER imagine our lives without, change.
 
The friendships we form at Uni or work, tend to last a bit longer.
 
The hardest thing to learn about friendship is that no matter what age you are, friendships can and do change. And sometimes, they can and do end.
 
And there is no age limit on this.
 
Life gets busy.
Life gets stressful.
Priorities change.
 
Children coming along can be the biggest factor in the beginning of the end of some friendships.
 
And in the same sense, it can be the beginning of new friendships and relationships.
 
Last week I went on a blind date.
Yup. You read right.
 
I put on my heels and some muckup and I got my Him to drop me to the pub. And I hadn’t a clue who was going to turn up.
 
See the Mums in Mini-Me’s class have a wattsapp group and I had jokingly suggested a Mammy camp during a conversation about the camps the kids were all going to over the summer. We chose a random date and by the time it came around, only 1 or 2 could still make it.
 
“Shall we cancel?”
Tempting… but I was getting a Friday night out and I was going come hell or high water, even if it meant sitting on my own for a few hours.
 
Thankfully, two other Mums arrived, equally as anxious and unnerved at this new experience. We introduced ourselves, ordered drinks and sat for 4 hours chatting and sharing and drinking and laughing.
 
I highly recommend it. There’s something liberating about spending time with new people, with no motive and no expectations, other than to be nice and have company for an evening.
 
I’m looking forward to the next one where hopefully a few more of the Mums can come too. And there is always room for new friends. You never know who is out there waiting to be a fablis part of your life…
 
But aside from this, I have to admit that I have a wonderful Mamma Tribe.
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I have my Knickers; my fellow supper of Sea-wind, sharer of everything, Big sister and secret-keeper of all. We’ve been through more than any pair of friends I know, and we’re not done yet.
 
I have my LQ; my longest friend all the way from Uni, with whom I click right into place even when we’ve gone months without seeing each other. (She’s moving home from the UK tomorrow. Our children will grow up together and we shall grow wrinkly together!)
 
I have my Rainbow; My partner in many crimes who keeps me sane and grounded and yet agrees to fly with me everytime a crazy notion takes me soaring. She’s the Wendy to my Tinkerbell, holding my hand through the clouds and the stars. (And she loves gin as much as I do…)
 
I have my Lady V; who makes me smile and understands everything. So kind, so beautiful, so stylish and so funny. No masks or facades required around this Dolly.
 
And then there is my Jo: my beautiful gal whose optimism and kindness is like no one I’ve ever known. A bold rascal but always a lady, there’s so much more to this little lioness than meets the eye.
 
I’m lucky. Of course I am.
 
And even through the changes that having kids and husbands and dogs and, you know, life bring, I always know that one of these crazy bitches will be on the other end of the phone. And right on my doorstep if I need them.
 
Of course I’ve lost friends. I’ve had friends from whom I’ve drifted. I’ve had friendships which I’ve ended. I’ve had friends cut me out.
 
And while each of these makes me sad sometimes, there are a few that in hindsight, were not as fablis as I once thought. Some were draining. Some were exhausting. Some were unhealthy. Some were nothing short of septic, but hindsight is 20;20 isn’t it?
 
And I’m sure that while I am certainly better off without them, they are probably better off without me too. I’m far from perfect. Who is?
 
So today, on ANOTHER International Day of… send your Buddies a message, or tag them below, or pour a cuppa/glass and dial.
 
Because friends are the family we chose for ourselves aren’t they? And if tomorrow is “International Day of the Crazy Wine drinking cackling sarcastic Wagon-full-of-hugs”, will you be tagging the same gals? Because that’s how you know true pals.

I am Some Really Virtual Friends Mum

After the initial business of arriving home with a new Baby, comes a quiet and calm, that can be lovely and much needed.

However, a few weeks or months, or even years in, and many Mums find themselves isolated. Being a Mum generally means that “you will never be lonely again”, but in reality, it is often the loneliest place in the world.

I’ve spoken before about how social media can help with the isolation of new parents.  But boy is it a double-edged sword?  The same platforms and pages that offer modern Mammas conversation, support and company, very often also encourage feelings of loneliness, despair and isolation.

I like social media.
I like how it allows me to stay in touch with people.
I like how it helps me to connect with old friends.
I love how it allows my family members who are scattered like glitter across the planet, to see what’s happening at home.
I love how one comment or image can spark conversations that are both heated and entertaining; sometimes even intelligent!
I like to see photographs of the people I like, smiling and happy.
I enjoy it and I get it I suppose.

As a Mummy, it provides some escapism. When the kids are asleep or you find yourself with 5 minutes to sit with a cuppa, there’s something nice about hitting the little blue F and seeing what’s happening in the real world.

You know? That place where exciting things happen? Where Peppa Pig isn’t in charge and where people live wonderful lives?

Where everyone has terrifyingly precise, painted eyebrows and sparkly white teeth and where people look naturally happy, all of the time?

You get to look into the lives of your “friends”: see their exciting nights out, admire their fabulous clothes, wonder where they get the time or money to visit that salon again.

We see happy families, smiling for the selfie.
We see who’s at the gym, who’s out for dinner and who’s heading away on holiday.

And while there is no harm in this really,  the key is to know that what you’re looking at is not reality.
It’s virtual.
It’s fabricated.
It’s lies.

No one’s life is perfect all of the time.  We know that, but let’s face it…who is going to voluntarily put a shitty photograph of themselves up for the world to see?

The natural selfies are probably one of 23 shots.

There are magical filters that apparently beautify! (Note to self…find out more about these.)

The reality is that regardless of how careful you are, if you look through your list of friends, you’ll possibly come across at least 2 people about whom you have to ask yourself “who is this?”

And while it keeps us connected, a huge issue for many new mums, is the isolation caused by social media.

Yes, we can see what’s happening and stay up to date with our friends.  We post photographs and status updates about our children and about our lives, to let our friends and families see how cute they are and how entertaining life is with kids.

But when this means that our friends feel that they don’t need to visit, or meet for coffee, or pick up the phone, then… we have a problem.

When seeing everyone else having fun, makes you feel boring and frumpy in your busy, unglamorous world of feeds and nappy changes, then…we have a problem.

When you know the story before someone tells you it, then…we have a problem.

When someone you haven’t spoken to in 2 years only realises that you’re no longer friends when you finally unfriend them on social media, then…we have a problem.

When every conversation you have includes the line “Yeah, I saw that,” then…we have a problem.

And it’s our own fault.  We see it all on social media so we no longer feel the same need to ring someone up to ask how they’re doing.
After all, we know they’ve been to dinner this week, had the dog to the beach and that the baby has been puking. We read it on Facebook.

We no longer consider a coffee date important as we know what’s going on with them.
We read it on Facebook.

But of course, Facebook doesn’t give you the same satisfaction that you get from good conversation over a cuppa.
Facebook doesn’t give you a hug before you go back to the whirlwind of your life.
Facebook might help you feel connected to the world outside your home, but only for a second, and only until it doesn’t.

Recently, I met a good friend for coffee.

She’s not on Facebook.

It was refreshing. She was interested in my stories, in how I was, in how the girls were doing… she hasn’t seen it on Facebook. I was delighted to hear about what she’s been up to. It was real conversation and it was lovely. We actually had so much to catch up on.  There were no lies about how perfect life is.  It’s difficult to lie to someone’s face.

We were able to talk about the difficulties we have with our respective Mini-Mes. We laughed at things we remembered from our nights out BC. Stories were interesting because they hadn’t already been told or seen. It was good, old-fashioned catch-up and it made me feel fuzzy and loved and ridiculously real again.

So while this isolation I speak of obviously doesn’t just apply to mums, that’s the angle I’m seeing it from.  I’m lucky that I have a wonderful family and some very good friends, but sometimes, just sometimes, being a mummy in the presence of two fabulously fun princesses 24 hours a day, can be a lonely place.

And while social media is fantastic and helps us stay in touch, it isn’t real.

So if you know someone; a mummy or daddy, or friend or cousin, who you have to really think about the last time you actually spoke to them, do you and them a favour.

Pick up the phone and say hi.
Or call to visit and actually hold the baby, while she makes you a coffee.

Rather than sharing sentimental quotations or memories on our friends’ pages, we really need to try to make more of our reality… not our virtual reality.

So there you go.
Social media is fabulous.  I get it.  I enjoy it.
But sometimes, it just isn’t enough.

Tomorrow night, I’m going to speaking at a Mammy Meet Up which has been organised by my good friend Sarah Barr of New Beginnings.  See details here.

We did indeed meet online and our friendship blossomed online, but a few months ago, we took the plunge and went on a DATE! We met in an actual bar, had actual food and actual conversation. And now, we’re not just virtual friends, we’re ACTUAL friends… in real life like! We’ve been getting up to all sorts of projects together and I have to say, she’s a Doll.

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So if ANY of the things I’ve mentioned in this article have you nodding in agreement, please come along to SONDER tomorrow at 7pm for a coffee and a chat with us.  You never know who you might meet or what new friendship is around the corner.

I am Simple act of Kindness Mum

Yesterday, I ran into a lovely young Mammy whose little Princess was born on the same day as my Mini-Me.

We’ve known each other for many years, because once upon a time, I had the pleasure of being her English teacher. (I’m not sure if she would describe her time in my classroom as a pleasure, but that’s my take on it anyway!) 😂
Our two girls are due to start school together in September and will be in the same class.👭

Her daughter, (let’s call her Pretty Curls), is just beautiful; gentle and sweet. ❤

We stopped to speak and as usual when there are kids included in the situation, it was more a direction ro the girls to “Say hello” to each other, rather than a conversation between the grown-ups.😂😂

Mini-Me was having a bad day. She has sore ears, was running a slight temperature and was still in the throes of being completely traumatised after going to her ballet class for a whole 3 minutes before deciding she NEEDED to go home. (That’s another blog…) 😡

Mini-Me and Pretty Curls were eyeing each other up.  Mini-Me spotted a packet of Disney Princess rings in the hands of Pretty Curls and began that incessant “But why does SHE have?/I WANT RINGS” whining that brought the conversation to a close.  I said goodbye and ushered her off to the next aisle, praying she’d calm down. 😢
(She didn’t. She slipped and fell and began to bawl. It was one of those genuine cries that overrides the whining to make Mammy realise that ACTUALLY, she’s NOT being a brat, she feels shitty and is upset at everything and simply needs to be snuggled on the sofa with a big glug or Calpol.)

So we went to pay for the shopping.
The other Mammy and Pretty Curls were at the next checkout.
And then the most beautiful, wonderful thing happened.

Pretty Curls came around to Mini-Me and put out her hand, saying “Here. You can have this.”
In her little hand was one of the rings.👭💍

Mini-Me was delighted and cheered up instantly.
Mammy was gobsmacked. 😮
  It was the sweetest thing I’ve seen in a long time.
There were hugs and smiles and statements like “You can be my best fwend!”

Such a simple, thoughtful gesture of kindness from a 4 year old stopped me in my tracks.
It was adorable to watch.😇
It was humbling.
It was the perfect example of how one, seemingly small, act of kindness can change someone’s whole day.😄
It wasnt small.  It was HUGE. It made Mini-Me  forget her sore ears (until we got home at least!) And it made her happy.
It also made me realise that I need to learn from this Mammy’s lovely example.
She’s taught her little girl to be kind and to be nice.👏

Pretty Curls was able to share her brand new toys with a little girl she doesn’t even know.  She’ll go a long way in life; just like her Mammy.

They’re both fabulous and I couldn’t be more impressed. ❤❤

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