Last week we found ourselves attending a first birthday BBQ. It was one of these events where many different friend and family circles were brought together and the only people I knew were the hosts. So me being me went about making conversation with a group of women similar ages to myself. As is the way now the twins broke the ice, and I was inundated with the usual twin questions: Do twins run in your family? Was it a surprise to find out you were having twins? How do you cope? And so on. Once all the twin niciestes were out of the way I got chatting to a first time mummy to be. One of the first questions I found myself asking her was “Do you have any close friends with young babies?” The sense of relief I felt when she told me her next door neighbour has a young baby. It made me happy to know she wouldn’t be on her own.
But why? Why did I care so much that people around her had babies? Because being a mother can be lonley, especially becoming a mummy for the first time.
Reflecting back to my experience on maternity leave with Finlay (our first born) compared to that with the twins, I was lonely. At the time I wouldn’t have said I was lonely. I went to visit my mum every other day and busied myself with walks to the park or household chores. But I lacked “mummy” friends. Women who also had a baby. Women who were going through the same thing as me. Women who I could bring my baby related questions to. It came as no surprise that I enjoyed returning to work (after I got over my initial guilt of leaving him!) I enjoyed having adult company and conversation.
Fast forward three years to when the twins were born. Life was fuller and busier as I now had three young children to look after. The early days were purely survival and they blurred into one as David and I were like robots, programmed to follow the same daily pattern. I didn’t have time to be lonley or even time to reflect on my mothering techniques. But as the months flew by I decided to push myself out a little more and along with my mum, I attended a baby massage class.
I throughly enjoyed the classes, as did the twins! There I could chat to other mums and the nice thing about it was most of them were second time mums like me. After the class ended we set up a Facebook group to keep in touch and began arranging baby play dates.
This support network has to be one of the things I miss most since our family moved. It’s hard moving to a new area, building a new routine and leaving all those who supported you behind. I didn’t realise how fortunate I was to have both my mother and mother in law living 5 minutes away. To have my sister pop in on her way home from work. To have our good friend Andrew who was willing to babysit once a week and to have such like minded mummies to moan to. All of these made parenting three young children much easier.
As I journey through motherhood, entering new phases and stages of development each one poses it’s own set of trials and challenges. The challenges of this phase: making sure David and I spend time together away from our children, juggling appointments and necessities while being each other’s babysitter and making new friends.
How do I plan to tackle these challenges? By settling myself “support” goals:
- To push myself out and attend more baby classes with the twins
- To spend time cultivating the friendships I’ve already created.
- Be a bit forthcoming with brothers (who live near us) and ask them to babysit, even just once a month would make a massive difference!
- Sit down with David and sync our diaries. That way we both can participate in extra curricular activities while also managing to spend time together watching our latest boxset.
- Make sure our family visit as much as they can, as travelling “home” is too long and expensive a journey at this time of year with 3 young children. We now have a spare room!
I shall begin with these goals and see how I get on. It’s not going to be as easy or comfortable as it was but I’ve found from the past that the times I am pushed out of my comfort zone are those when I grow the most.
Here’s to our support networks. The people who don’t even know they are making a difference in our lives. Here’s to trying our hardest not to take them for granted as you never know the day when circumstances will change!