I thought I was lonely. I was sad, and I thought I was lonely. I thought that if I met some people, made some friends, ‘kept busy’, then I wouldn’t be sad anymore. I’d be fine, because I’d have friends.
What I’d forgotten, though, is that I don’t really like people. That sounds like a terrible thing to say, and maybe it is, but it’s the truth. I’m not good at making, and staying, friends with people because I’m a picky bitch. People are annoying, and I generally only want to give my time to people who don’t annoy me and I actually quite like. It’s just that, for me, these people are few and far between.
I thought I was lonely because I didn’t have many friends. Turns out I just don’t have many friends. I may appear lonely, but I like it that way. I like it that way because people are dicks.
Still, for a time I felt it was super crazy important to make mummy friends to do mummy things with, and that was what was missing from my life. So I went for it. I posted an ad on netmums meet-a-mum. I get several responses from other mums with children across a wide range of ages. They mostly seem nice, but who wouldn’t? So then I start being my picky bitch self. I discount the ones with babies – no one for my kid to play with. Same for ones with kids 4+. I chat with the ones that are left. The usual stuff gets thrown out. Name, age, occupation, age of kids, sex of kids. Then there’s either a bit about how wonderful their kids are and how they love doing loads of activities and they like this place and that place and have we tried them? Ugh. Annoying supermum types. Why are they even on meet-a-mum? Need to find some new people to brag to? Delete. Or there’s a bit about how the mum is desperate, lonely, they know no one and their kid has no friends and they spend their days indoors being miserable and do I want to meet them for a coffee because they are really very lovely they just have no friends and would really like some. I can relate. That could be me, I think. Only, do I sound that desperate? Am I that desperate? I don’t think I am. I reply and we talk some more. “Oh I can sympathise, don’t worry! I don’t really know anyone here either, but would like to meet some people. Do you go to any groups? We have tried some and enjoy a few of them. Maybe we could go to one together? Our kids are about the same age so they should get on” I say. I’m not really that fussed but I feel I should try, at least. Make a little effort.
Then it starts.
The questions, the competition. The stuff that stops me from making friends with people in person at the groups that I’m telling the meet-a-mum-ers that we like. “Oh isn’t your little one sweet? Now I must tell you all the things MY child can do. As children are all we have to talk about, it’s very important that my kid be better than yours.”
I’m sorry, I really am, but no. I can’t be doing with this shit. If I wanted some mums to talk to so that I could compare everything our kids do in minute detail, I’d just go log on to some mummy forums.
What happened to ‘we’re all in this together’ and why is it now just ‘we’re all in this to beat each other and bitch’? I know it’s kind of obvious, but apparently it’s not – people do shit differently to other people. Parents parent differently to other parents. Kids develop differently to other kids. That’s just how it is. No one wins, we all just.. are.
It’s accepted that adult relationships are pretty unique to the people in them. My relationship with my husband is probably nothing like your relationship with your husband, or wife, or partner. People don’t ask about how things are with your relationship (unless, perhaps, you’re no longer together, then it seems that how things are with your (ex)partner suddenly become very interesting to everyone), because it’s none of their business You don’t meet up with your friends, sit down with a cup of tea, and say.. “So.. has he been well behaved recently? What did you have to eat last night? Which one of you made it? Did he like it? How much did he eat? How many times have you had sex this week/month/year? When did you last have a fight? What was it about? How did you resolve it? Ooh, I wouldn’t have done it that way.” No. You would look nuts, and your friend would probably tell you to fuck off. People don’t ask about that stuff, because it’s private. People don’t talk about that stuff unless the person who is in the relationship wants to, and they bring it up, and they ask for your opinion. Right? Or is that just me? A daily compare and contrast of how we are all doing with our significant others would just be plain weird. There’s no boast list of how many shiny stickers we’ve added to our relationship reward chart this week, or how well we’ve managed to communicate this week, apart from when he got cross that I put spinach in his lasagne despite me thinking I’d been ever so clever sneaking him some vegetables (because my husband hates vegetables, does your husband hate vegetables? he does? oh well let me email you this super list of sneaky ways to give them hidden veg. these pesky husbands, eh?!). It would be weird to be competitive, openly and unashamedly, about our relationships, our marriages, sharing intimate details just to be the best (I’m pretty sure that fictitious reward chart would have to lead to some sex based redemption privileges, right?). So why the hell do parents feel the need to do it every day about their kids? “Oh hi how are you? How’s she sleeping? How’s she eating? Had she got any new words? Can she count to 20 yet? Can she write yet? Can she juggle on a unicycle yet? Oh my kid can. While reciting the alphabet backwards and the seven times table. AND they sleep all night and eat their dinner and love having a bath. They’re such a good kid.” Fuck off. How about asking me how I’M sleeping or how I’M feeling and actually giving a damn about me rather than just using me and my kid like a top trumps card. Just tell me you know how hard it is and I’m doing just fine. Tell me my kid is cute and it’s lovely that they can draw faces. Don’t feel the need to brag that your kid can paint epic landscapes in watercolour with their feet or some other bullshit. Even if they can, what does it matter? What do you win by making someone else feel like less? Whatever you get, I don’t want it, even if its a medal made of chocolate the size of my head.
So you could say that the whole meet-a-mum thing didn’t go so well. Didn’t quite work out. Only, I’d say it worked out just fine. See, now I don’t think I’m sad because I’m lonely. I’m only going to be a ‘stay at home mum’ for a little while longer, in the grand scheme of things. Now, I’m quite happy not having a bunch of mummy friends. Now I realise that if I did, I’d just secretly hate them all anyway. If having a bunch of mummy friends to hang out with means entering us into The Ultimate Parent/Child Competition then thanks, but I’ll pass. It’s not for me. Not even close. So we will go to our groups and I’ll have fun with my kid and we’ll just enjoy the time that’s left before she’s all grown up and off to school, and we will be just fine.