Ever since my first trip to a post-natal class, I have felt that making friends with other mums is like dating.
You have to work out if they are suited to you – are you going to argue about public versus private education, vaccinations, TV allowances? Do you have anything else in common, other than your having children of the same age? Do you have similar politics, do you both work outside the home or from home? Do you both like Costa Coffee or the local independent, organic place?
And then you have to sell yourself to them. You have to look like someone they would like to spend time with. You have to show that their child will benefit from spending time with your child. You have to make them laugh and laugh at their jokes. You have to be able to look past the little annoyances.
I never dated. No, that’s not quite true, I went on one date when I was 12 years old. To the fair. It was all very awkward. I didn’t know what to say or do. Apart from that, all my relationships (four of them) have started when drunk. I’ve never been out for a movie and a meal to get to know someone first. I’ve just fallen straight into the relationship.
So maybe that’s why I can’t make friends with other mums. I don’t have the dating experience under my belt. And I can’t very well get drunk before going to a toddler group.
The only local mum friends I have are people I’ve known since school days. None of their children are the same age as R. There are a few mums of children R’s age, who I would love to be friends with. But I don’t know how to do it. I see them walking round town together, texting each other, I hear them talking about going round to each other’s houses for coffee and joking about buying cake instead of baking it. I have absolutely no idea how to break into that.
Will it get better when she starts school? Should be I standing outside the nursery school doors, waiting for mums to talk to? Do I need to wait for an opportunity, like the one Single Parent Dad got when a local mum needed his help? Or should I go out there and be pushy in some way?
Is it just me, or do other mums and dads have the same problems?