A few weeks ago my ode to my old mates, some with kids and some without, went out, a love letter to the guys and girls with whom I’ve danced on tables, rocked at gigs and sobbed over inappropriate boyfriends. I’m so grateful for these friends, who knew me before I was an expert on nappies and nap times. They remember me being up at 4am for reasons that aren’t night feeds, or temperatures, the days when I could read a newspaper or pee with the door shut, and of course drink like a fish.
But of course, as a mum-to-be and new mum, your baby takes over your life and messes with your social life. Who am I kidding – they RUIN your social life. On the rare occasion I make it to the pub, I have Weetabix on my sleeve, 4-day-old hair and no ability to stay awake past 8.43pm. So you need to have fun in new ways, and sometimes, with new people. Here are the new mates you need in your life:
The one who really loves your children
Emma and I had kids at the same time. She lives one street away from me. She’s seen me cry as my boobs cracked and throbbed as I tried to nail breastfeeding. She’s collected my kids from nursery when I’ve been caught up in tube chaos or called into a meeting. On one memorable occasion, after the Women’s March, she caught my youngest son’s sick in her hands in a taxi. Much like when you have a tower of champagne flutes at a wedding and the champers flows from the top one, down into all the other glasses, his puke flowed down her sleeve, spilling into the pram, dripping on her shoes and staining her shirt. She wasn’t bothered (and nor was the cab driver. What a legend). This is the girl you need on your side. And I’d do it for her kids too. In a flash.
Because having babies is easier when it’s a two-person job, and for my husband, having mates who are dads keeps him sane, makes him realise that I’m not the only short-tempered, haggard wife out there, and gives him the empathy and the energy to love me through the shitty periods. (Sometimes quite literally – we’ve changed a LOT of nappies in the past three years).
The smug one
The one who fits back into her skinnies, knits her own nappies and never feeds her kid a Happy Meal. Her hair is clean, she never runs out of wipes, and she has an excel spreadsheet of the best toddler classes. She’s a walking, talking example of how we all thought we would parent, before the little sproglets actually arrived. She sounds annoying, but actually, she’s not. She reminds us all that there is hope that one day we will leave the house leaving nothing behind. Perhaps even wearing lipstick.
The second time around mum
She’s a mum of two, so she laughs at your struggles just keeping one baby healthy and happy – she’s got double the trouble. But she reminds you that teething comes to an end, all babies sleep eventually, and that somehow, you’ll manage to shag your partner again.
The boozy non-judgemental one
The one who doesn’t judge you for opening the rosé at 3pm on a Tuesday on maternity leave because you need a bit of a break, something to soften the edges. Before the trolls come out in force, I don’t mean we are all pissed and in charge of our darling infants, I mean that sometimes we just need someone who understands that we need to see them in the pub NOW, no questions asked.
The boozy organised one
The one who manages to get a WhatsApp group going to get your NCT group down the pub for a round of Picpoul and some chips. The one who helps you regain your social life and doesn’t care that your tights have holes in, your top is three seasons old, and that you are checking your phone every other minute to see if the babysitter has called. The one who rounds you all up, and gets you all together, ensuring that you are never really alone, even at 3am during a sleep regression. Thank god for WhatsApp. And thank god for mum (and dad) mates, there for you and your kids. And your sanity.
This post was first published here. You can read more from Bell From Bow on her blog, check out her terrible photography on Insta, or like her Facebook page.