Juliet Speedy knows the importance of a close group of mama friends. Here she talks about the feeling we’ve surely all had: The Mummy Crush.
A whole new world of friendship opens up when you have kids. A pretty bloody amazing one. One fabulous part of becoming a mum is how quickly you can make dear and lifelong friends. Friends you meet on the mummy train.
These are friendships that often form quickly. There’s no pussy footing around the start of your friendship when you have stories of ripped vaginas in common. Small talk with a mum is generally very large talk.
You will meet a shite load of mums. They’re in your ante-natal class, your post-natal Plunket group, kindy pick up, music class, the nappy aisle, the school gate. There’s a mummy cult and you have no idea you’re entering it until you do. You are a group of weary women making your way around the parenting rollercoaster and doing your upmost to leave the house each day without Weetbix smeared on your top. You’d like to think you spend most of your time talking politics, the latest Man Booker Prize winner and solutions for the Middle East but the reality is your life at this time often revolves around The (very un) Real Housewives, which Moana song is your favourite and who (not of the Kardashians but of your mates) is clearly getting Botox.
There’s obviously a bit of figuring out to do. Not everyone’s to your taste. I’ve turned my back at: oh no, I’d never buy processed food or takeaways for my kids knowing we’d never be friends. When I’ve heard: my children don’t really have tantrums, I think best, for her sake, I and my tantrum throwers stay clear. But then from time to time you strike what I like to call The Mummy Crush. You meet a mum who you immediately relate to. You dig this mum. And you can tell she digs you. You really hope your kids become friends and if not you invite them over for a Friday arvo playdate and force your offspring onto each other, anyway.
When you get a mummy crush you’ve found that common ground. The same parenting attitude even if you do things differently. Personally, I look for another mummy that can relate to my mummy crimes. I’m guilty of many. Poached eggs for dinner one too many times this week, yelling that little bit too loudly, scaring off not only your own kids but also your neighbour’s, lusting a wee bit too heartily after Hugh Jackman as a circus master and drinking one too many wines on a Friday night.
When I relay these stories, I can immediately tell by the reaction whether the friendship’s going to fly. If there’s an eyebrow raised and a look of shock we’re never going to be (saggy) bosom buddies. When you meet new mums, you can often tell straight away if you want to have a cup of tea together. It’s when you chat by the kindy school bags and find yourselves laughing about your current sex drive hibernation. You’re both wondering whether that ‘sexual peak at aged 40’ is about to be revealed as the same lie you have to tell your kids about the tooth fairy. The first time you do have that cup of tea, you swap birth stories and both reveal you poo’d during pushing… that’s true friendship right there.
There’s often talk about it taking a village to raise a child and it’s true. Now I have three kids on different schedules at school and kindy, I’m constantly calling on friends to help out. We’re picking up each other’s kids, swapping for playdates, listening to each other’s child raising challenges, swooping in when one child is sick, helping out with a move or just calling over for a drink.
I’ve met a few mums over the past seven years who have become great friends. We’ve gone from chatting at kindy pick up to swapping clothes, having BBQs, going on family holidays and traversing life’s topics regularly. I have friends now I met in my Plunket group after my first baby was born who are life-long mates. They may be newish friends but as new mums you’ve shared more than many of your old friendships.
And old friends who remember you as the person you were before you were a mum are crucial too.
Friends really do play their most important role ever, I’ve found, when kids come along. They’re the non-judging, imperfectly groomed story sharers who listen to your teary-eyed sagas and incite laughter afterwards.
They’ll get you through some of the toughest, most amazing and emotional years of your life. And one day when the kids aren’t pulling at your trouser leg and you’re in a chair that rocks, you and your mummy crush will reflect together on these crazy years and how fun they were.
Juliet Speedy is a Christchurch based journalist and writer who juggles her time between newsrooms, supermarkets, kindy, the library and the laundry. She has three small kids who were born closer together than she can remember. Since becoming a Mum she now wonders how she ever got her university degrees, these tired days she finds it hard to do her six year old’s homework.