Friday, 27 March 2009

Children are the great levellers

The other day Rosemary and I went to a drop-in we used to go to a lot. We haven’t been for a couple of months for various reasons, so most of the people we were used to seeing weren’t there, though there were some familiar faces.

I noticed a mum with a newish baby sat on the sofa and thought she looked familiar, but couldn’t quite place her. A little while later I realised she was someone from my class at school, about twenty years ago. And without a second thought I went up to her and said hello and asked about her baby. She also has a little girl about Rosemary’s age and two other older children. We chatted a bit about other people from our class and who we’re in touch with (or on Facebook with, as the way these days), but mostly we talked about children and babies.

The thing is that this was a girl I was pretty much scared of at school. She certainly wasn’t someone I hung out with. We might have bonded a couple of times when I caved to peer pressure and teased one of the weaker teachers. But for the most part I avoided her and she avoided me. She was one of the ‘hard’ girls and I was snooty swot. Without children in the picture I don’t imagine there is any way I would have gone up to her in the street and said ‘Hey! Do you remember me?’.

But when you have children (particularly young ones, I think, though not exclusively), you become part of this new club. A club that encompasses pretty much all mums and most dads. A club that spans all classes, all ethnicities, all education levels and all ages. It doesn’t matter whether you live in a council flat or a mansion, whether you stay at home or work, whether your children go to the closest state school, the fancy grammar, the £2000 a term public school or you home educate, you will always have something to say to another person in this club.

And that’s one of the reasons why parent blogging is so fantastic – and becoming ever more popular (are you a member of British Mummy Bloggers, yet?). We come from a wide spectrum of backgrounds and have differing opinions on many things, but it’s pretty much guaranteed that there will be something to touch each one of us in some way in most every parenting post we read.


  1. I completely agree. And by the way - check out British Mummy Bloggers because you are the winner of the MamaBabyBliss Mother's Day comp!!!!

  2. Golly! Thank you - did not expect that at all.

  3. Yes, children are a great leveller, but they can be something of a competition too. Even sharing birth stories can be competitive ("How many hours was your labour?" "Did you manage without an epidural?"), and then checking how all the toddlers are doing with their healty eating and developmental milestones. Then of course comes school, and academic achievements...

    But yes, I agree with you in principle. Parenthood gives common ground.

  4. OMG I have only just worked out what WAHM stands for, and therefore how cleverly named your blog is. I'm such a klutz...

  5. I agree totally. You do become a member of the most amazing club. I've had a similar experience recently - I've bumped into someone from school with a child, but I would not normally have hung around with them. Then I've seen how motherhood has changed them and how similar we actually are now.

  6. MTJAM & Amy: Thank you!

    Iota: I find that the competitive thing only comes out with mums in the same circle (whether social, work, school...) and it can be pretty horrendous. Between circles it seems we stick to the generalities, perhaps because our attitudes would be so different.

    MTJAM: You only just worked it out?! I hope other people know... maybe I should gloss it in the subtitle, or something.

    Rosie: It is amazing how much motherhood does change us all, in different ways. And often not in ways you would have imagined pre-babies.

  7. Yes, I only just worked it out, but then I am quite thick. I'm sure everyone else got it months ago. Oooh, run a poll, and find out!

  8. Couldn't agree more.
    I love to hear different people's thoughts and opinions and the comment section of these blogs is just a hotbed for that.
    I also once met someone I used to go to school with who I couldn't stand because she was so up her own backside (sorry) but because she had a baby I thought she must have changed and mellowed, and sure enough she had. That baby saved her!

  9. so i am very late as usual, you can call me the late grit, but i posted recently on how as a mother of multiples i felt excluded from many of these groups; i found it very difficult to share concerns because of a sort of 'reverse oneupmanship' - this competitive thing that iota mentions - i felt very few people wanted to hear, especially if they were struggling with one baby, and i felt i was sort of duty bound not to reveal too much anguish because some people wanted me to be a 'supermum' (which is what mothers of multiples tend to be labelled). really, i survived partly through the multiples email lists existing at that time, and not the baby groups!

  10. Hi Grit, and thanks for commenting. I can imagine it must be a very different experience with triplets. And those of us with just one do tend to think of you all as supermums and be in awe of how anyone could possibly manage with three babies. Our local children's centre (where my sister works, and where we go to drop-ins) runs a monthly twins and multiples club and I know (via friends) that the parents (and children) really appreciate the opportunity to meet others in the same boat as them.

    I've had a quick look at your blog and will be back later to read more. I was home-educated for a few years so am always interested to read about others' experiences with it. It's not something we're planning for Rosemary, but we would never discount it as a possibility if it felt appropriate.