I have seen and heard so many young mums talk about how they have lost their friends or place in a friendship group once falling pregnant. I think there are mums of other ages who can also relate to this. I was determined that this wouldn’t happen to me, and it helped that I had a pretty good group also. This post is dedicated to my long suffering friends, because god knows, they deserve the recognition.
Not one of these beautiful women (or men) have children, but care for my two in such an overwhelming manner. I always cite my friends as my biggest support, and they are and continue to be. I’m not saying I’m a popular gal, but they are a big, formidable force of young, passionate people.
This is Auntie Doll Doll (Hollie) and a newborn Nono
She is so loyal to us all and has backed me so many times. Including arguments involving chicken wings being pelted on the back of a 136 through Lewisham at 2am. She’s never forgotten a birthday and has never gone a week without checking in on us, even when she’s gallivanting around southeast Asia, I think she may also be my female soulmate. The Cristina Yang to my Meredith Grey.
In the second photo it’s Auntie Zozo, who never ever complains about anything because she is stupidly strong willed, but always has the best advice. We have had some strange situations together, including finding a naked guy on a doorstep, attending a party in which absolutely everyone was asleep on arrival and phlegm (that’s enough on that particular event) and before she went off to be an academic, we spent many hours a week sitting on my doorstep discussing everything from feminism to just putting up our middle fingers to people on the passing 122 bus.
Auntie Daitlin and Dope. Both of whom are adored by Noah. Caitlin/Daitlin never says no, and always takes Noah out for the day when we go to London and has collected that child from nursery/had him over night/slept with him in bed, countless times. Dopey/Hope, has saved my last shreds of sanity and stepped in on so many tantrums, and is capable of putting the world to right.
Gigi, is frustrating. She never answers her phone and sometimes you forget her existence. Then, she arrives when you least expect it and lights up the room and she truly is Noah’s first love. They have a bond that rivals any mother and son’s. In my severe depths of poorness, Georgina bought me £10 of toiletries so that I could wash (£10 at 17 years old is a lot of dough) and I’ve never forgotten how much I felt loved and cared for in that moment. We also had a physical fight in Peckham Rye when we were 15, she told me to “fuck off to Thailand.”
Then there is Anna. Who is so caring and kind to others, that she drowns herself at times. An absolute nutter, but the best kind of nutter. Romey and her, just ‘get’ each other. Anna is worth her weight in gold to us. Fortunately she lives ten minutes down the road from us, and she is our ‘childminder’ for the boys. Her willingness to collect Noah from school and have both boys at the drop of the hat, has allowed me to go back to school myself. She also accepts payment in dinner and jaffa cakes. Anna and Cecilia also gave Papa No and Ro and I our first whole night away from both children on my most recent birthday.
Speedy and Moleskin. The Camberwell green babes had me living in between their houses for months. They never grumbled or moaned, even when Noah woke them up at 5am, even when there boyfriends/friends thought the set up was a little odd, they just did it because at the time, I really needed support. Speeds used to walk to the falafel shop with Noah in a Virgin Mary printed sling on her back, hareem pants and flip flops.
Freddie (or ‘Fred’ as he is now known as in his old age) is included in these photos. Living in the same house as Auntie Fifi, Anna and Cecilia, he hasn’t got a choice in being roped into the chaos that comes with my small children when we come to visit (which is far, far too often)Noah truly believes that Fred is his friend – rather than mine – and I’m
starting to believe it too after the amount of times I have walked in on them building lego together, watching Walking with Dinosaurs, or asleep! Fred is the one that the boys get to see most often. But if you ever walked through Telegraph Hill park in the summer months of 2013, you would often see a group of 6 + teenage boys, sitting around a gorgeous little baba, as that is how Noah spent most of his early days.
Cecilia or ‘Ass-cillia!’ is a newish member of the No and Ro appreciation society. As probably my ‘newest’ closest friend, she reaffirmed that I was STILL capable of making friends. She’s also super intelligent and is the editor of Lippy Mag (have a look – it’s great) Cec is also the only close friend I have made since being the mother of two. My confidence was knocked hugely after I had Roman. I always thought being a mother of one sounded kind of cool, and was workable. But two, for some reason made me feel so much more mumsy, and boring. She too, has been rota’d into the childcare shifts. And although, to some that may seem like hell, I think Cec kinda likes it because she gets to snuggle and watch ‘Inside Out’. She also does a really great impression of being utterly terrified, but it’s one of those games that the kids drag out for hours.
The point of this post is that each and everyone of these people mentioned and so many more, have been truly crucial to my life and my children’s so far. All of the women mentioned above have done hideous nappy changes, grim 6am wake ups, taken shifts on hangovers to ensure all children are kept alive, babysat, fed us, housed us, held a child so I can drink a tea/eat a Nando’s, bailed me out financially, bailed me out emotionally, comforted me and made me really, really laugh. Most importantly, I’ve always still been ‘Rin’. Whether childless or four children in (that’s not on the cards btw) I know that I am valued as a friend, and not just the one who had kids too early and therefore wins the sympathy vote. I can’t wait for the day that I can return so many favours, however it would seem that I am also a powerful contraception, as more children within the group doesn’t seem to be on the agenda just yet.
SO, to wrap it up. Not only is this an anecdote about my wonderful friends (I do sometimes hate them too) but I hope this reaches those who lose touch with friends when they fall pregnant – especially those who are younger than most. I know I am extremely lucky in finding such good friends, but doing something little can mean a lot. Phone when you know their baby goes to bed, and they’re alone at home on a Friday. Invite them out, if they can’t make a night out, can you find something child friendly in the day? Don’t avoid them because you can’t deal with the sound of a crying colicky baby or being scared that you ‘can’t relate’.
Because without my girls putting in as much effort as they do, yes we’d all still be breathing, but we certainly wouldn’t be as happy.