Your 'mummy friends' are all well and good when you need baby advice, company on a dreary Wednesday morning or someone to bitch about weaning with. But when that part's over and you're ready for an actual interesting conversation, your child-free friends are like a breath of fresh air
I have to admit to hating the phrase 'mummy friends'. I didn't like it before I became a mummy and I don't like it now. It seems to conjure up a cliquey image of slightly soft, doughy women, with scraggly hair, sitting around drinking cold tea and talking about breastfeeding. (So, yeah, it's pretty accurate. But I still hate it.)
That said, I have mummy friends. Some of them are old friends with babies, lots of them are new friends I've met since becoming a mother. Early on, I desperately needed my mummy friends. These are the people who understand you perfectly. You share meaningful looks above the heads of your screaming offspring, you fill up whole days wandering around the local park refuelling hourly with coffee and cake. You share a 4am virtual eyeroll in your What's App group when you're all awake, feeding, rocking, despairing. It's a strange, all-encompassing time that leaves little space for anything else. You don't have much to say, except to talk about babies, and thankfully all the people you've surrounded yourself with feel the same. It's easy, uncomplicated, comforting.
And then there's your other friends, the ones without children, who turn up to see you or meet the new baby - well-meaning and kind in their way, but unable to really empathise with the strange new world you find yourself in. They don't speak this odd rambling new language you now speak - reeling off your baby's latest sleeping or feeding pattern with the numerical recall of a savant. They don't understand why you might be worrying about night feeds, or daytime naps, or weaning or teething. They do not want to hear about your nipples, and you cannot even understand half of what they're saying. Unable to communicate, both of you find yourself staring at each other in a vaguely confused manner, completely at sea in this friendship that just days earlier felt so easy and comfortable.
But - like with everything child-related - it is only a phase. This too shall pass. Your babies will get older, and slowly, oh so slowly, life starts to look more like it did before. The baby fug fades, you start to feel like you could leave the house in clean clothes, you think you might even go out in the evening.
And so, out you go. You and your new mummy friend decide on a Girls' Night Out (caps essential). After all, these are your women now. Your sisterhood. Everyone arranges childcare, much excitement and exclamation marks are exchanged. It is ON. And then. There you are. On a Girls' Night Out, Friday evening in an actual dress and a clean pair of tights, sipping wine....and discussing potty training. For over an hour. That is over 60 minutes of discussions about a child pooing. And then someone's husband calls, the baby is crying, they must leave immediately, blah blah, and that's it. Between the poo and the crying, that's your big evening, all over. This is not at all what you signed up for. And it's not even their - or your - fault. It's just how things are. Motherhood is all-encompassing, and it's hard to not talk about it with other mothers. But sometimes, just sometimes, when you want a night off from it all, you need people around you who don't even want to talk about children.
Enter, your child-free friends - bringing you a proper Friday night since the dawn of time. They smell nice, they've bathed and plucked their eyebrows several times since 2012. They all look so lovely, all brushed, styled hair, latest fashions, high heels. They carry newspapers around, which they've actually read. They've seen recent films and have something to say about current affairs. They don't just bitch about how their husbands left the wipes open and they all dried out. They have actual interesting lives and jobs and can tell interesting stories. Soon, your child-free friends will be your most desired company for anything from a coffee to a long weekend away. God, they're not even interested in your children. Or in talking about them. They walk into the pub, give a cursory glance in the toddler's direction, say things like: 'Hi. You're cute.' And then promptly ignore them. Bliss. These people don't want to talk about nappies. Or weaning. Or sharing. Or schools. They want to talk about YOU. And, no-one ever wants to talk about you anymore.
So, child-free people everywhere, whose mates all keep sprogging up and disappearing off the planet for what seems like forever - I have some advice for you. I know it's tedious, I know we're boring and tired all the time, but - HANG IN THERE. Because it won't be long before we come crawling back, craving your company and your insight. You are wonderful, interesting people with interesting things to say and interesting anecdotes about your lives to share. You don't want to talk about babies (hurrah!). You want to talk about work, fashion, politics and travel and getting drunk on Fridays. (I think I vaguely recall this...but I have no doubt you'll be able to help jog my memory.) And thank god for you. You are our way back to a normal life, a way to reconnect with our former selves. You are the breath of fresh air we need at just the right time, and we will love you for it.