Ever since Swifty’s Bad Blood music video was released officially featuring her “squad”, women everywhere have taken the opportunity to praise their own tribe/squad/pack of pals. Photos have been tagged, features have been written and female friendships have been celebrated (and Amen to that). But what about those who are yet to find their tribe, or in my case, are having a tricky time finding them second time round?
Before I continue I have to say I have the best NCT group a girl could ask for thanks to baby number one. As with all the finest mummy mates, it wasn’t long before we were sharing birth horror stories much in the same way I used to divulge my drunken antics to my bonkers work buddies. We overtook cafes in a pack – buggies parked, breasts out – and it wasn’t before long we were meeting on a weekly, if not daily basis. These women, who I would have walked past in the street just a few weeks before, suddenly became my lifeline and the saviours of my increasingly delicate sanity (mummy meltdown anyone?)
But as the babies got bigger, our little group got smaller, as one by one each mum finished her maternity leave and returned to work. As the only stay-at-home parent in the gang I suddenly found myself alone with a small person to entertain and a lot of time to do it in. One baby soon became two (very thankfully) and once again I was up to my eyeballs in crappy nappies and coffee cups, but this time with a toddler who could suck energy more efficiently than Dracula can suck blood, and none of my squad on hand to save me.
Being brave enough to bounce up to other parents and make friends when you have one kid is hard, but meeting mostly new mums on maternity leave when you have a loud, scream-y toddler in tow, that’s nigh on impossible. Of course there are my fellow stay-at-home mums to hang with but it’s not as easy to form friendships as some may think. Much like the early days of dating there is a certain etiquette to be followed and pulling a Sharon from Catastrophe simply won’t do. There are also the mums who are lucky enough to still have their squad, who appear in playground in pairs or more, deep in conversation and as likely to share a friendly word as they are their hot Starbucks.
They’re even up to it online. Social media suddenly became awash with women celebrating other women whether it be their friends or other females they admired. Of course women should be bigging up other women (I am a big believer in this), but for all the lovely ladies out there feeling lonely who AREN’T included in these lists, these features can only serve to make them feel a little bit sad and their day a little bit shit.
But I’m not quite the Belinda-no-mates I have painted myself out to be. Whispered chit chat with other mums whilst singing Old MacDonald has turned into real friendships which now involve nights out and wine (hallelujah). The old NCT bunch are now pushing out their second sprogs, meaning a whole new wave of maternity leave fun and frolics to enjoy. The work buds are still bonkers and I have my very best pals from university, school and beyond. So what I am trying to say? That not everyone is lucky enough to have a Swifty style squad to rely upon. That being a mum is a bloody lonely business. That even if a mum appears to have their shit together, they probably don’t, and at some stage they would have felt the same crippling loneliness to some degree too. So the next time you’re in the playground with your mate, sipping your hot Starbucks (and screaming at little Jimmy to stop jumping off the top of the slide), try and say hi to that mum on her tod with her toddler and new baby. At worst, you would have made her day a little better, and at best? A new mummy mate to hang out with, and we can never have enough of them.