When mums meet mums

Some mornings feel hard…… Proper, I-don’t-know-how-we’re-going-to-get-out-of-the-house hard.

You get used to hard mornings when you become a mum. And hard evenings. And hard days too.

But once I open the front door, somehow the hard morning feels more manageable. Because with the sight of other mums comes the realisation that it is probably not just me who has had a battle to get out this morning….. Or who has driven themselves mad asking their children to put on their socks or do up their coat….. Or has been resolving arguments and wiping up spillages and drying tears for at least two hours. It may not just be me who is feeling like a lousy mum because on some days this most basic of tasks – getting ready in the morning – feels beyond us without the whole house ending up in tears.

There are probably other mums who would also like to write off the whole morning and start again.

I always feel better at the sight of these lovely people, many of whom I see day in, day out. There is the mum who understands every bit of what a hard morning feels like. Who knows if I’m close to tears, will pop an arm around my shoulder and will probably message me later to tell me she understands and that she’s had a hard week too. There are the mums I know I could call on if I needed help with a pick up or drop off. Mums I can stand chatting to outside the school gates and not even realise that 20 minutes have passed. There are the mums who know that my eldest boy loves soup and maps and train timetables; and are thoughtful enough to pass on things they know he’ll love. There are the mums with whom I can happily while away an evening drinking wine, eating cheese, and discussing everything and nothing. Our husbands ask what we spend so long talking about……little do they know that we could easily have spent much longer if we weren’t so aware of needing to get some precious sleep. There are mums who make me laugh, mums who make me think and mums who make me feel better. Mums who reassure me that just because you sometimes find motherhood hard doesn’t mean that you’re not a good mum. It just means that it IS hard sometimes. Amazing mums who juggle demanding jobs and busy homes and are still there for each other.

When you have a baby, everyone tells you to get out and meet other mums. So that’s what you do. You try baby groups and baby yoga and baby music. You feel your way through the crowds and gradually find your group.

You force yourself out on no sleep, because you know this is the way to stay sane. You scout out the baby friendly cafes and sit with coffee and cake and a tiny baby in a pram. You talk, you listen, you laugh, and sometimes you have a good cry. Crying is ok, because there is always a shoulder and no-one thinks you’ve gone crackers…..everyone gets it.

You talk about routines, naps, dropping feeds, weaning, babies’ bowel movements; and whether your pelvic floor will ever recover. You never envisaged that this would be how you would make new friends; but it seems that when your bodies have been through childbirth, nothing is too big or small a topic.

You go to the park with big mats and toys and plenty of snacks. You walk the streets with pushchairs trying to get tired babies to sleep.

You delight in milestones and do the rounds of birthday parties.

As big things change, so your group changes too. Mums go back to work, children start school, people move house. Your network of mums will shuffle around and maybe change entirely. But what doesn’t change is the need for a strong and supportive group around you. The need for reassurance, for laughs, and for a cup of tea or glass of wine with people who understand the everyday ups and downs and reassure you that yes, your little worries are relevant and important.

So here is a pretty sunflower for all the wonderful mums who help each other to navigate their way through this oh-so-confusing parenting jungle. It would be a much harder journey if we didn’t all have each other. x



A mum’s Mother’s Day

Since having children, I have stopped thinking of holidays as holidays. In my head, I have re-defined them as the-same-thing-but-in-a-different-location; so actually harder work. The same sort of thinking is required with Mother’s Day when you have small children. Unless someone has offered their babysitting services as a Mother’s Day gift, it is actually the same as any other day, but with the added pressure of knowing it should be special.

My day started reasonably well, with the smallest boys enjoying a lie-in until 6.15am rather than their now regular 5.45am. This gave me a whole 30 minutes of extra sleep. I let my husband get them up and dressed and I stayed in bed – this was a treat. I attempted to read my kindle and drink a cup of tea. It was all rather nice until 7.10am when one of the 2 year olds, dressed in his George Pig costume, clambered onto the bed and sat on my head. Then I decided I might as well get up. At 8.15am husband and I were trying to mediate a squabble over a cardboard cupcake. At 9.30am I was in a tangle on the floor trying to break up a scrap over a copy of Cinderella. So far, just like any other Sunday.

Would I prefer the RAF museum or a large family fun farm, asked my husband on this rainy Mothering Sunday. Now, obviously a family day out is a lovely thing; but I can’t pretend that, if it weren’t for my children, I would seriously be considering spending a Sunday in a large hangar in north London looking at military aircraft. I quite like the more traditional Mother’s Day idea of someone cooking me a roast whilst bringing me tea and cake; but that is never going to go down well with three small boys. So ‘Mothering Sunday’ ends up, much like any other Sunday, being centred around whatever will keep the children happy because you would rather wander around an aircraft hangar than deal with tears, tantrums and soul destroying whining.

WillowsActually we didn’t go for the aircraft museum, because our boys still have a way to go before understanding that they are not allowed to climb on every single aircraft on display. Instead we went to the farm where the boys had a whale of a time whilst we stood shivering by a bouncy castle. All around me I could hear red-nosed and blue-fingered mums complaining that they couldn’t feel their toes. It seemed they had all done the same as me, and wrapped up their children but forgotten to bring any warm items for themselves. Then we sat in a freezing cold marquee while children drove around on mini JCBs and it hit me that this is what Mother’s Day with small children means.

We ended the day with an early dinner at Giraffe – my boys’ restaurant of choice solely because of the mini giraffes they are given there. Unfortunately, whilst perfectly pleasant, our local Giraffe is also located inside our Tesco mega-store. This meant I started the day with the 6.15am wake-up call and ended it in Tesco’s, with some fights to break up, a couple of loads of washing to do, and some lovely cards to open in between – surely you can’t get much more of a mum’s Mother’s Day than that?