Can I just say, being ‘just a stay at home mum’ is actually really bloody time-consuming in the social sense? Before Oakland, I was more than content spending my nights at home shoving junk food in my face and B grade horror films into my brain. Obviously I had my crazy times many moons and less wrinkles ago, but once my body began taking more than a week to recover from 2+ vodka, lime and sodas I hung up my party pants and threw on the trackie dacks instead, and I wasn’t sad about it at all. The most active my social life got was me getting three likes on my Facebook status about how good it was to order extra cheese on my plain cheese pizza. Yeah, that sure was a crazy night. But now I am suddenly finding myself with not enough hours in the day, or enough days in the week to fulfill all Oakland’s commitments and see all his little buddies.
From 6 weeks old Oakland has literally had more friends and a more active social life than I have in my entire 31 years. We’ve done swimming from 3 months, Baby Sensory, Toddler Sense, Mixed Moo play group, Messy Moo play group, various other play groups, baby rhyme time, baby massage, mums and bubs pilates and god knows what else. Literally I enrol him in anything I can find that I think will stimulate his little brain, burn off some crazy kid energy and get me out of the house and hopefully involve some kind of adult conversation. It’s a total win/win. The only downside is that it is utterly exhausting! At one point I had to keep a physical calendar so that I didn’t miss any of his activities.
Having a child has opened me up socially more so than anything else ever has. It has forced me to come out of my people hating shell and get out there and actually make conversation with complete strangers, because we have something in common; we created mini humans! We are all tired, we all cleaned up pee off the couch this week, scooped a turd out of the bath, opened the door to the mailman with a nipple hanging out of our shirt, scraped dog food out of our toddler’s mouths, let our kid’s play with a box of tampons while we peed because it kept them off our laps, gave them a baby wipe shower because we just couldn’t summon the energy to run a bath that day, did a Maccas run because the dishes were still sitting in the dishwasher from last night and we rocked the shit out of our mum bun because our hair hasn’t been washed in at least 8 days. Oh and when we say we fed the dogs tonight, we mean they ate the scraps that dropped off the side of the high chair. Getting out to meet other mums opened my eyes to the real world of parenting, not the pretty picture that is painted in the smiling photos we see gracing magazines and social media. It made me realise that we all fuck up. Daily. We all take the easy road when we can, we all deserve a night off from cooking or bathing our kid. They don’t have to look immaculate every second of the day and the little assholes can (and will) get feral at the most inopportune times, and that is totally ok. How you choose to deal with it is totally ok too. Lose your shit in public, we all have. People will look and judge, fuck them. Perfect parents will always be there to silently mutter and shake their heads, you can’t compete with that so don’t bother trying. Bitch about it tomorrow to all the real mums at play group. They will understand.
If there is any kind of advice I can offer to any mum (and really, I am not one who should be giving advice, I am winging the shit outta this parenting gig) it is that you need to get the fuck out of the house, like right now. Do as much as you can, from as early on as you can and meet as many other mums as you can because it will save your sanity. Sadly you’ll lose a lot of your old friends when you have a baby, no matter how hard you try to hold on to them. It is just a fact of life. Parenting changes you significantly and people who aren’t parents just won’t be on your level anymore, no matter how close you are/were. They don’t get that you’ve got to cancel literally last-minute because your child just shit and vomited all over you, the car and themselves as you were pulling out of the driveway to meet them. Only other parents will understand and they won’t even be slightly mad. Becoming a parent is terrifying, and the thought of taking this feral, teething, tantruming child out into the world by yourself, to a strange place where absolutely anything could happen is scary, but trust that the other parents there are/were just as afraid. It is fucking daunting but you won’t regret it. They won’t be judging you when your toddler is face down, legs and arms flailing wildly, screaming hysterically and you’re just casually sitting there sipping your cuppa. Play groups are safe zones, judgement free zones and incredibly welcoming. You can all thank me later.