I feel genuinely lucky to have met some brilliant women while I’ve been on maternity leave with my youngest. I’ve found it much easier this time round, living in a different area to when my eldest was born, where there are loads of groups and people seem really open and friendly. I’m also more confident now in my role as mum, and I think overall I really care less what people think of me.
Which is why this is a genuine confession. My new friends don’t really know me.
Sure, we’ve swapped birth stories and discussed things like bowel movements, sex and the stupid things we do while sleep deprived. But it all happens in a haze of “we are nice mummies”.
And I am a nice mummy. I try to be a gentle parent. I instill my values about social consciousness and moral values into my children. I strive to be a thoughtful friend and I’m kind to strangers.
I also swear like a trooper. I want to LOSE. MY. MIND. when my kids don’t sleep, which is every single f*cking day of the last 6 years. I’m always up for a glass of wine. And once I’ve had a few I’m first to suggest shots. Or karaoke. Or dancing until 3am. I used to be carefree and fun! It’s just been beaten out of me thanks to worries about allergens on everything, the reality that kids have zero respect for hangovers and fears about co-sleeping with a baby after I’ve had a few drinks. The real me is still in here somewhere, but for some reason I’ve hidden her from my new friends. Instead I roll out the nice, but even I am getting bored of that.
Social media is the worst for that. Everything is filtered. From the great-angle-soft-light-super-filtered Instagram shot of the one tidy/styled corner of your house, to the fact that I don’t swear on social media because of my elderly relatives or old school teachers who might see it.
It stems from getting satisfaction from being liked by everyone, which means I adjust my personality (without realising) to be the person I think those around me want me to be. But in the process, I distill who I really am.
I need to take the advice I used to give my single friends. Be who you are, because The One will fall in love with you not in spite of who you are, but because of who you are. The same goes for new friends. The ones who are attracted to the real you are the ones with whom you’ll make the most valuable friendships.
Last year I met a lovely woman who I think is a lot like me and we’ve struck up a lovely friendship that still feels a bit superficial. Tonight I suggested to her we take the kids on our day off and go for a lunchtime wine. I was going to suggest vodka on the park benches but I think she will have thought it was a joke. So I’m hoping she takes the bait (that sounds like I’m trying to trap her or something) and we can be a bit more real.
Who knew friendships in our 30s would be so much more complicated than in our 20s?
Anyway, my new mantra is: “Be who you are because those who matter won’t mind and those who mind don’t matter.”