I like to think I am a sociable person, but this actually clashes with my shy-side of my personality too. I have always been fairly shy, and nervous when meeting new people, always worried that people would think I was stupid, or boring. I love my friends though and am so thankful to my son, who doesn't even know it yet, but through having him, he has helped me make some wonderful new, lifelong friends.
I was with my ex-boyfriend (before Paul) for almost 7 years, and throughout the relationship, I lost many friends. I was sucked into wholly being with him, and blew out some good friends from university along the way if he didn't want to come out too, I would rather have been with him. Then people just stop asking and before you know it, it's a lonely place.
When I got together with my current partner, Paul, (the father to my son) I swore I would Never Loose Friends Again like that. It didn't make me happy. Paul is also very encouraging and suggesting I go out with friends whenever I can. Which is funny, as he is a very shy person and not the sociable bunny in the relationship ;) but he is lovely and supportive and knows I need my friends.
When I was pregnant, I realised I didn't really know anyone with children or anyone who was pregnant. I realised I had a lot of questions about pregnancy and so randomly one sleepless night (oh pregnancy insomnia how I do NOT miss you!) I was browsing Twitter and had the idea to search for pregnancy related hashtags. (for those who don't know what I am talking about, hashtags can be explained here: Twitter hashtag definition)
I soon found some mums-to-be both locally, and indeed, globally who I could share things with. It was lovely! I even met up with some local mums, and now one of these "Twitter friends" is one of my best friends, and our sons are good pals too. She has been there for me in so many situations and I am forever grateful that I decided to search Twitter that night.
I was on the hunt for other mums-to-be, and had heard of Netmums before via my job (children's entertainment) so I had a look on there. They have a "meet a mum" board, a bit like a weird (but safe) dating site! haha. You can post about yourself, and search for other mums in the area with kids the same age. Here I again found some now close friends. We chatted online whilst pregnant, and eventually met when Jack was a few months old (probably at least 4-5 months as couldn't walk etc for the first 3-4 months as per my last blog post).
Through Twitter and Netmums, I somehow ended up connecting with some of these mums on Facebook too and got invited to a local mums group on there. I loved how the internet could help with my plight, although unlike internet dating (which I haven't done so don't know how it really feels), didn't feel weird at all. Quickly, my circle of friends became bigger as we introduced each other to others, and the group expanded.
One of the mums, then set up her own group, and invited me to it, which I now admin and love the mums in it. It has been for me, and many others a life-support, a private place to vent, ask advice and generally be reassured that our babies our normal, and whatever god-awful stage of babyhood we are currently experiencing, it WILL pass!
These friends I have met in person now, and had lots of baby playdates, mums nights out and just generally had the pleasure of connecting with, are honestly hands down my closest friends. I am so thankful that having my little bear, I have made some amazing friends, who I could not live without. I try to go to as many events as I can, as don't want to ever be that person again that people stop asking out, as "what is the point, they will just say no". I swore this to myself, and to Jack too, he has some lovely little pals, and I am so glad I have my friends too.
Toddlerhood however is a weird thing too. My circle of friends feels a bit unbalanced and Not Quite Right at the moment. I am in several "parenting" groups on Facebook, including some gentle-parenting groups, which have also been my lifelines. I don't think I am a hippy mummy, although some would label me thus. We don't do CIO or CC with Jack, we just don't. We don't tell him he is "naughty" or put him in time-outs.
We (Paul and I) agree strongly on how we want to raise Jack and I am SO glad we are on the same page. Initially, we had a few differences, but I am so proud that Paul is such an advocate of rocking Jack to sleep, co-sleeping where needed etc. It melts my heart. He had a rant the other day about how he hates when people label children Jack's age as naughty, and I wholeheartedly agree. He is 18 months. He is not naughty. Paul said things like that are a self-fulfilling prophecy and he would not label Jack this way, and that he is too young to even comprehend what this means. I was so glad to hear him say this. (you can read more here: http://www.naturalchild.org/robin_grille/good_children.html if you are interested)
I appear to have diverted somewhat, from talking about friends to our parenting style, but there is a loose connection somewhere, bear with me ;)
When we have newborns, mostly, parenting styles are fairly similar. They eat, sleep and poop. Not much else happens. Although you do also get judged for HOWEVER you choose to raise your child. If you breastfeed you are called names, if you formula feed, you are denying your baby something. Just give it up ladies, we are all struggling mummies and there is no right or wrong, your baby wont remember how you fed them! Ahhh. Sorry. Ranting.
Since Jack has turned into this lovely, polite, sweet toddler I have become aware again of differences in parenting. Does it ever get easier? Do you ever really meet anyone who parents the same as you? No, of course not.
Mummy-friends for me, are super understanding, usually non-judgemental and most of all know what you are going through. The most judgemental people I know, don't have children!
If you are pregnant, or have young children, try and meet some new mum friends, either online or at local playgroups. There are loads of women out there who feel the same as you, and are just as shy. Just smile and say hi, you never know, they may become your new BFF.
Me with my mummies, out for dinner and drinks this year <3