Mum squad meet-ups: Picture perfection vs reality

When I was pregnant with Bubba One I pictured many things through a set of very rose-tinted glasses.

I pictured what the birth would be like, how I would feel afterwards, how I would follow all those oh-so-simple instructions in the baby books and how I would manage day-to-day by floating on a bubble of new mummy joy.

Fast forward two years and two babies later. I would love to go back in time and snicker at my old self, maybe clue myself in to the s**t that’s about to go down. But it is impossible to communicate the reality of parenting to a non-parent. It’s like trying to explain the full plot of Lost to someone who has never seen it. With the island, the polar bears, the crashing plane, the big electromagnetic field nonsense and all the vomit (think that one slipped in from the parenting stuff actually) they just won’t get it.

Now I know the truth. Birth was hell. I felt like I had been hit by a lorry afterwards. The baby books need to be burned and whoever first coined the phrase ‘just put your baby down drowsy but awake’ needs to be found and punished. Possibly by being forced to actually do this with a newborn. I got news for you so-called baby expert, they don’t just drift off in their own bed when they’re newborns!

As for the bubble of joy, it burst quite some time ago. Now I’m managing on a daily dose of chocolate, grit and determination. Of course there is joy, I experience it every day. But I certainly don’t experience it all day, every day.

One of the most important things I pictured was me and my fellow mums getting together as if nothing had changed, just with a few extra guests in tow. Now while we do certainly get together, it’s never quite as calm as my mind’s eye pictured it.

My mummy friendships have been extremely important to me. They’re the people I can cry with, the people who sympathise with me and say they’ve been there too and the people who will nod along as I go into another rant about sleep deprivation.

But I had pictured our get-togethers slightly differently in my head pre-baby. How naive I was!

Here is the picture vs reality:

Imagination
My friends and I will enjoy long lunches with our gurgling little bundles of joy bouncing on our laps. The babies are content despite being out at nap time, as when you have not yet had a baby you don’t realise what an impact napping and feeding to their exact schedule (which changes all the time) has on their mood. We sit eating a delicious plate of beautifully prepared food. We will sip on a glass of prosecco, hey it’s just the one, and we deserve it because we are superhuman at parenting.

We all swap stories about what life was like before baby with a laugh. How we don’t miss the bar-hopping and lazy lie-ins. Life has so much more meaning now. It’s so lovely to catch up together and get all the gossip. Nice to have a bit of grown-up time away from the house.

Reality
Lunch out is out of the question. Generally the meetings will take place somewhere the older children can be contained, like a soft play or park. If one of us has the energy to clean up their house and stock the fridge we set up a survivors’ camp there.

We swap stories about how s**t the night before was. We compare notes on how many wake ups there were and how long it took to settle the baby back to sleep while gorging on biscuits and cake.

As the babies go into meltdown one by one because they’re tired owing to the s**t night’s sleep, the conversation loses its direction. We yell random questions over the noise. How’s so-and-so from work? How’s your mum? None of us can follow the answers. While undoubtedly life does have more meaning now, none of us can remember what that is.

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Expectations vs reality often do not match up in all walks of life. However becoming a parent is a particular knock to the head because it’s such a fundamental shake-up of your entire world.

No matter what the reality of the situation, I couldn’t deal with it without my mum pals.

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