Having a first baby, as I did in 2011, well before smartphones were commonplace, meant I might as well have been in the middle ages.
The post-industrial atomisation of society was at its apex that year – we lived our solitary lives side by side. There was, for me, no society, no community. The word “loneliness” doesn’t even come close. It was catastrophic.
Where, I would think to myself, are all the other bloody mums? Have I done this in a fucking vacuum? (As it turns out, I sort of had – my scientific knowledge now of the exact whereabouts of Kitty’s peers concludes that there are scant six year-olds within a walking radius of my house.) My NCT group were okay but all lived a car-ride away. What fucking use is that?
But now all I see everywhere I go are mums and babies. All together. Not side-by-side not talking because they’ve given up starting conversations because the other mum will only be Finnish or a vegan or about to go back to work (sorry). They’re all together, complaining ferociously – as they ought to be. Don’t get me wrong, I would no more want to be back there than I would want to be about to re-sit my A Levels BUT I am still envious of their cosy groups and Insta-mummies to give them thinspiration and clothing advice.
It’s smart phones that have done it. Moan about them all you like but they bring online and off-line communities together, physically, in one space, which is something you need with babies and small children. You need to get out of the house, you need to talk to another adult, IRL. I met my dear friend Annie Kelly on Twitter who lives round the corner from me but that was by accident.
The literal embodiment of this is the app Mush, the brainchild of two mums (obv) who met in a windy playground one day and, some time later, went: let’s do Tinder for mums. You make a profile – adding such salient details as I DON’T SPEAK ENGLISH or I’M GOING BACK TO WORK NEXT TUESDAY, put in your location and wait for the invitations to stay-and-play roll in.
I was very kindly invited to Mush’s first birthday party last week, but couldn’t go. So instead I asked one of the founders, Sarah Hesz, some questions over email, and she replied below. Of course if she were on Mush I would be circumspect as to being her friend as she has no interest in cooking (all I talk about) and wants to have a third child (INSANIA!) Also see ridiculously kind answer to “my kids are…”, which I would have completed “karmic retribution for sins in a former life” Perhaps that shite attitude is the reason I
have had no friends.
1 When did you first meet Katie in that windy playground?
The Millers Tale says
Great idea but what really saved my sanity was maintaining friendships with women and men who had no kids. The last thing I wanted to do was hang out with other parents and be absorbed into the cult of childrearing.. Yes I had other people’s kids over so my own didn’t turn into grunting knuckle-draggers but tbh the mums thing really was something I wanted to keep at arms length.
This is such a good idea. When I had my two boys in the early 1990s mobiles or pcs weren’t invented and I remember how lonely it was. I lived in various parts of the country and abroad with my husbands job, so no family around either! the NCT was my saviour and toddler groups to meet other people!
This sounds like a really great idea – I love that story of the lady with the adopted baby! Thankfully though my toddler days are over.
This is a great idea! My local authority do a ‘first time mums’ thing where they coordinate a wee group of local mums who all have babies at the same time through the health visitors and then the idea is you keep meeting up afterwards too. A bit like NCT or your antenatal class group but they give you more of a push and it’s post baby, so a bit more realistic. It works really well, my sister is still in touch with hers and her eldest is 11 and she’s lived in Australia for 8 years. I didn’t go to my first time mum’s group because my dad died when my baby was tiny and I really feel like I missed out a bit. But I do have a mummy friend who would have been in my first time mum’s, had I been able to go, and I literally know her from passing her on the street near our houses every day pushing our babies in their prams. In that post nap afternoon window where you just need to get out the house. And eventually we got to talking, then a bit more, then a bit more and now we’re friends and our toddlers are too. Pre-baby I often said that I didn’t need new ‘mummy’ friends and the whole thing seemed a bit odd- we’re friends because our children are the same age, that’s no basis for friendship. But actually it is a great basis for friendship. Elaine x
I’m sorry your Dad died – at all – but especially when you have a newborn, that is not nice. Yes, you do need “mummy” friends – but not many. Just one or two will do x
Thanks Esther. xxx
Ecstatic, I’m so far beyond babies I’ll never need Mush…nice idea though
Flashback to a 2011 first baby too – arrggghhhh you are so right! I still feel slightly sick thinking back to the loneliness. I’m also past babies but my friend is about to have her first so I will pass this on!