How to Find Mum Friends Who Get Youby Sarah Hurst
It’s not so much as finding friends in the first place, because of course everyone is different - and whilst meeting a future bestie at a feminist rally might be a match made it heaven for some, others may be more likely to find their friendly soul mate chasing after a feral toddler at soft play. Why? Because there is one key phrase that will separate the most likely future friend from the most likely future not: “Me too”.
I’m not talking about the highly publicised movement to demonstrate how many have experienced sexual abuse and harassment, although an important topic of course…I’m talking about the solidarity between one mother to another, the attempt at making a connection through a shared experience and the little outreach of an invisible hand which is there purely to let you know that it’s not just you. They get it. They get you.
That’s not to say of course, that friends who have completely different experiences to you can’t be a good friend, but they are more likely to be the friend who predates children or sees you away from the kids. These friends are just as important, but they aren’t necessarily ‘mum friends’, and mum friends are really important to have when you are trying to be a mum alongside everything else.
“Me too”, doesn’t have to be for everything either – it’s healthy to have friendships with parents who can give you a different perspective, an alternative view or even a different way of doing things. You see, ‘me too’ isn’t finding a friend who is exactly like you – it’s finding a friend who wants you to know that they understand. Someone who can walk beside you and gets how hard it is, or how joyful it is and can empathise with how you’re feeling.
It may not always be as easy to spot as “me too”. Sometimes it might sound like…
“I completely understand”
“I know how you feel”
“it’s not just you, don’t worry”
Quite simply, it is one person reaching out to another, connected by parenthood, attempting to highlight some additional common ground.
How do you make sure you are open to these types of connections though? By being your true self. Don’t hide your faults and difficulties. Don’t stop going to playgroups or classes just because your child seems different to everyone else, or you feel like you don’t fit in, or you baby just puked all over you. Show up as you are. There may be another parent hiding behind their mask desperate to find someone else like them and you may just be the breath of fresh air they need.
I remember turning up to a baby group with my second child when I was really struggling, in the throes of PND and finding it impossible to stop comparing myself to all the other parents who seemed to be so ‘together’ and there was a mum… hair in a messy bun, unshaven legs poking out of the bottom of her tracksuit bottoms, hole in her sock, sick on her shoulder, laughing at her own crazy jokes with her baby and I KNEW that she would be someone I could be friends with. Her imperfections made her the perfect friend because as I quietly tiptoed over to sit down next to her she said something about the mess she felt she was in and I just smiled at her and said, “oh don’t worry … me too…”