I have written before about Mummy Mates, the ones that you make via the playgroups, mums’ groups, and antenatal classes that you attend once you are pregnant or have given birth. The bond that you develop with these women is a different one to any other because, in many ways, you have joined a kind of ‘club’ together.
These are the fellow sleep-deprived souls, who, like you, never believed anyone who tried to tell them that getting up ten times a night to urinate would never, in no small way, prepare them for being in charge of a baby that won’t sleep.
Some of these women are people with whom we are acquaintances at particular times, the pre-school phase for example. However, there will always be others with whom we stay in touch, even after we have moved out of the stay-at-home bubble in which pregnancy and the early years sometimes ensconce us.
It is two years now since I returned to work, and that time has been a mad, and occasionally very stressful, juggling of house, kids, work and social life (that’s the kids’ social lives; mine involves merely the sofa). I had always ‘kept a hand in’, but the instant that my youngest started school I threw myself back into trying to rebuild the career that stopped when I had given birth to her. I intended to do so by dipping a somewhat daunted toe in, but instead I launched myself off at the deep-end by starting up a small business within schools, and then, within 3 months, teaching again myself.
In the time since, I have seen decidedly less of my Mummy Mates than I would like, but due to some much-needed and strict rearrangement of my working hours, I have started this school year with a steely determination to make the most of the afternoons post-school run, as opposed to working during those hours and grumbling at my poor offspring for not understanding that tired refrain of mothers everywhere, ‘Mummy is busy!’.
I am trying extremely hard to keeping a certain amount of the hours between school-run and bedtime free, in order to spend them focused on my children, and I am also trying hard to ensure that we all sit down to eat, together, and discuss how our respective days have been. My husband and I have always made a point of eating together, but the youngest girl was too small & over-tired to stay awake without beating the other senseless with her fork, so we are making the most of the fact that we can now all sit around the table together as a family. (Even if their forks do sometimes need to removed.)
This week, during one of our after-school jaunts, my girls and I caught up with one of my bestest Mummy Mates, Jane. We had both assumed that our children, who have known each other since birth, yet not seen each other for a couple of years, would take time to readjust to one another’s company. Perhaps a touch of shyness might rear its head, or a bit of mummy-clinging?
It would appear not; within seconds of entering the household, the kids were playing as if they’d never been apart, and Jane and I experienced something that I believe never happened when they were smaller – we sat, uninterrupted, and had coffee and a catch-up.
It was a fabulous afternoon and subsequently I’d like to say thank you to the lovely Jane, Jack and Izzie. Jane has always been a source of inspiration, given that she juggles motherhood with working five days a week as a partner in a law firm, and if that’s not impressive, then I am Widow Twanky. (No comments, please.) I am determined this year that there will be a work/life balance in the Lushness Household, and afternoons like these make me realise what you are missing out on with your swiftly-growing babies if you don’t make the concerted effort just to stop once in a while.