The all-important friend network, Mumma Tribe, gaggle of female folk friends! How important are they and how do you make them?
It has got to be one of the most mentioned statements when booking onto Antenatal Classes…It kind of amazes me, and saddens me at the same time, the importance placed on friendships and less on good quality education!? Friends are HUGELY important, but the kind you have varies from person to person. Some people love to surround themselves with a huge circle of friends, who they see regularly, others have a small close/tight knit group. To go to, and spend (a lot) of money on an antenatal class to make friends, if I am honest, is a bit nuts!!
When you join an antenatal class, the only thing you all have in common is, you are pregnant, due within a few months of each other. That means you are going to be best buddies right??Really?? Yes, maybe, but maybe not!!
When I had my first 11yrs ago there were two choices, hospital or NCT, I chose hospital, but there wasn’t much in the way of baby classes then. There are a HUGE number of baby classes, groups and meet ups, apps, social events the list goes on…that way you can actually meet mums in your own time and choose your own friends (should you want to). To pay £2-300 to meet a mum network is a risky gamble! Pay £2-300 because you have been recommended a great class by your friends, because you know you will get good, up, up to date, relevant information, but not just because you may meet friends.
Do you need new friends?
Now I wont argue that every new mum needs a support network around her, but if you are someone that finds making new friends difficult, for whatever reason, to force yourself to find a new ones is bloody hard! You don’t necessarily have to have a group of friends with babies born within a few days/weeks of yours.
For me personally, I am a pretty unsociable creature, my close friends network is small, made up of similarly low maintenance people who I know “get” me. I realised my closest friend would be that for life, when we were chatting about my mother in law “popping” in unannounced once (yrs ago I hasten to add) she looked as shocked as I felt! I realised I had a kindred spirit in her, someone else who loves her own space and company and who will never just “pop in” lol We see each other probably 3-4 times a year, our children were born within a couple of years of each other and are best of friends (when they see each other).
For my job I am sociable, and weirdly it is one of the things I loved about it, but in my own personal life it is very different. My youngest is nearly 4 and we don’t have any particular friends with children his age, we don’t do play dates or groups together, but he hasn’t suffered due to that. My family network is big and we are all very close, I got a lot of my support in the early weeks/months with all of my babies through that.
I think what I am trying to say is, if you feel the need to have a close knit of mumma friends, do it, but if you find yourself worrying more about not having that group, or finding it tough to find that group, but you are ok with that, don’t worry! There is a lot of emphasis on Mumma Friends, but is Mumma Support that is important and that can come in a variety of guises.
I really try and pride myself that we don’t have mums like this in our classes, but of course, this is a ridiculous statement, we have no control over who joins our classes. But we do have a huge emphasis on support and empowering all mums, regardless of parenting choice and background.
Cliquey Mummas is always difficult, please mums if you have your group, your tribe, your posse, don’t exclude others. There is never a time in your life where you feel so out of your depth, out of your comfort zone, and out of touch with the rest of the world.
I’ve heard stories, and seen with my own eyes Mums excluding other mums from meet ups, I remember hearing a story from another antenatal class whereby they all met up and half of them were discussing openly an event that the other half hadn’t been invited to. You would never act this way in your work, or your job, so don’t do it in motherhood. It is cruel, horrible and downright rude!
If you are organising a coffee in class, open it up and ask others, if you see a mum not talking to anyone else in class, involve her your conversation, and if you don’t want to go back to an empty house, be brave and ask the mum next to you for coffee, chances are she is feeling exactly the same