Tuesday, February 07, 2017

Being A Mum Can Be Lonely

♫ Alllll by myyyyseeeeellllfff... ♫

Before you have kids, (if you are lucky) you tend to have all kinds of friends, from those long lasting school friends, the ones you met at college or uni and then the lovely work friends too. Most of which tend to turn out to be just that don't they, work friends, as the second you leave it's like you never really existed, especially if you leave for maternity it seems. What on earth is that all about?

Once you have kids, often those friendships fade somewhat and an awful lot of the time it can feel really lonely, even when you are surrounded by other Mums and children bizarrely. However noisy it is, you can sometimes feel like you are constantly going solo, hearing the sound of your own voice far more than any other.

So how on earth are you meant to make friends as a new Mum? The whole thing is completely daunting and alien to me. In the beginning I found it was always easier to just play with my baby and keep busy than it was to try and strike up conversations with total strangers. I am hopeless in social situations at the best of times, so walking into a room where everyone seemed to know each other already whilst keeping a tiddler in check, was absolute torture. Cue my 'act natural' face, impromptu dribble and clumsiness overload.

As the years have gone on, I have gradually met more Mums and spoken to more people. I am a little braver while we are out and about now and I guess whoever you are, whatever your interests, if you have kids and they have kids, then you instantly have a mutual topic and something to talk about. The playgroups have got easier, it's far more bearable when you go more regularly and see familiar faces even if you don't talk to everyone or anyone all the time.

The thing I struggled with most was the follow up situation (I'm sure there is a better name for it?). Basically, you go to a group or something, strike up a conversation with another Mum and think YAY I feel like I actually have a friend for a few minutes here. Then it comes to departure time and that is where the problem arises. How on earth do you ask another parent for a number without sounding like either a weird stalker or that you want to date them? I often think that I'd love to see this person again, maybe we really clicked or the kids got on so well, but then never know how or what to say. To avoid sounding like an absolute lunatic I say nothing, and occasionally (we're talking hens teeth rare here) I may find someone on Facebook if by any miracle I have remembered their name with my extremely poor sleep and deprived memory.

It is so much harder generally making friends as a grown up and everything you do makes you feel like the ultimate loser. I guess this could be the same for most of us and I think we are mostly all as hopeless as each other, though I do score quite highly when it comes to social flops. It doesn't help that I literally fall completely to pieces when I talk to most people and come out with utter tripe - why must I feel the need to fill dead air?!

I'm sure I'm not alone in all this and most days, as we wander back home after the school run or playgroup I sometimes think 'what are all the other mums doing?', are they all guffawing over hot cuppas while the kids play in their masses or are they sat at home feeling a bit loser-ish and lonely too? It's amazing being with your kids (obvs), but sometimes having a friend to talk to can make all the difference and remind you a little bit of who you are, as well as someones mother.

Part of learning to not be completely socially inept is to have a bit more confidence in myself and stop over thinking every situation (much like I am doing right now). I need to be braver and more sociable for all our sake, despite the fact I often think 'shit' the moment I have arranged something and crave the easy life being at home or going solo, it's just habit now. I think it is so easy to get stuck in a rut of home being easier, a safe place you can relax and that is OK, but Mrs smiley face with the cat hat kid isn't going to just come a knocking for a play date, it's time to take those first steps.

I am lucky to know a few other Mums now and it's been amazing having them to talk to when I need them, to talk about music, makeup, clothes, kids and all that fun stuff and I really do need to try and do it some more. 

Do you ever feel like this too?