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?