Thank heavens for friends: two years, two babies and a sea between me and my family I have had to rely on newcomers into my life for advice, guidance and at times, logistical support.
Too many friends tell me they have struggled with anxiety and stress since giving birth and it breaks my heart, but perhaps more importantly it makes me want to acknowledge and thank the girls around me. The ladies I spend days, evenings and weekends with who came into my life because our husbands work together and who have made the last few years an adventure. United in the fact that through supporting our husbands we found ourselves here, in a country where we don’t speak the language and are far from our families.
I came here with a three month old baby, I hadn’t read any baby books and I confess I didn’t go to ante natal classes I was winging the parenting thing. I had no clue about sleep patterns or routines. Soft play or organic cotton sheets. I learned from the ladies around me, with 16 children between me and my girls aged 10 down to three months one of us has at tried most parenting techniques. Some fail, some succeed, somewhere along the way we find a way to get the kids to share, to eat tomatoes, to use the potty and not melt down that daddy is away with work again.
Dearest family and school friends if you’re reading this please don’t be offended, you know in your hearts how much I love and need you but you’re sadly not next door so I haven’t been able to nip round for a break and a brew. I had to call on the Australian girl who I had only known for a few weeks when my baby hit his head on the patio floor and had a black eye. “Have I broken the baby?” I sobbed on the door step as she poured me a wine trying to hide her ‘I’ve been there’ smirk. I write this not because I want to brag about my gang but because I want to say thank you. Thank you girls for not judging me when my toddler screams and snatches a toy from yours. Thank you for always arriving on my door with dips, crisps, cakes and fruit because it’s hard to shop with the babies in tow. Thank you most of all for not comparing our children, especially the ones who are the same age. Thank you for listening to my first world problems and non dramas and thank you most of all for making some precious memories with us here in France.
Next year we will be back in the UK in Leeds, I will go to Mums groups and use Mummy Social (the app that introduces you to local Mums, a project I support). And I will be able to hang out with my family and the friends I have loved since pre school. The special guys and girls who are part of my fabric, but for a few years I have borrowed some one else’s best friends and I have needed them. I have learned how to parent, how to cook things (Ha well I watched them now and again) and how to be a friend. For that you random gang of girls I will be forever in your debt. You know who you are.
Mum mates are important. Choose wisely, choose widely.