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Relationships with other parents(11 Posts)
I've posted about this before but find it so hard. Before I had kids, I had friends and a good job (still have) but I'm the main breadwinner of the,family so I now do 5 days in 4. I spent my latter mat leave ( I have 3 children now) really trying o make an effort and get out there and while the mums I used to speak to still smile and ay hello, it's never got beyond that. For eg, took my son to a club today for easter, two mums I've spoken to started chatting and acted as if I wasn't there. I don't know what I'm doing wrong. It's felt like an uphill struggle and I don't see it getting much better. A lot of my best friends have moved abroad or south of the border and sometimes I wish I could move but DH doesn't want to move the children. Don't know if I'm being paranoid but I feel I am that person everyone tries to body swerve! I was popular at uni but now I feel I am a shadow of my former self. What am I doing wrong?
There is always a school gate clique of mums and most of us are not in it (nor want to be thank god.) You will definitely not be in with the in crowd if you are a working mum. In my dc's school there is definitely a divide between the working and non-working mums. Can you latch on to someone in the same position as you? Mums of new children are also good to befriend.
If in doubt, just lurk and hover. That's what I do. Most mums are not that rude that they would completely ignore you if you joined in with their conversation, especially if you say something funny.
DD1 is in year one now and I've not yet seen the school gate clique at our school. I work FT. I drop DD off at school before work.
OP have you tried smiling and saying good morning to random people? Our school is small and I don't recognise everyone - I dash in every morning (usually right on the bell) but I always make sure I hold my head high, make eye contact , smile and say Good Morning etc.
I'm not aiming to make friends via the school - more neighbourly acquaintances. If I make friends, great. But I'm not seeking friendship there. But via getting involved in the school fair last year, and a bit more this year, I am making friends despite myself.
I don't think you're doing anything wrong but then I've never got the whole other mums things and fortunately haven't needed to.
If it's more friends you're after I'd look at other ways of finding them that aren't so notoriously cliquey.
OP I totally sympathise with you. There's a good deal of patenting which is really lonely unless you have a strong support network close by. I have a few friends close by though rarely see them and no family here. Finding a mum friend is a lot like dating!!
I do find school drop off / pick up quite an effort and some days if I don't see anyone I know, I feel a bit pathetic and sad. Funny but true... Gah.
I think some people are just basically a bit lacking in social skills or are shy or are just really busy. I've had a couple of examples of this and felt quite hurt at the time. Tho looking back when I felt I had been blanked the person in question was either rushing off somewhere or as it turns out, very shy. We all know what it's like having kids, everything else can fall by the wayside. Though the exception to this is that some people are just f*****g rude and not worth your time!
Have you tried organising a get together on your off day? Or a playdate at the park? Picnic weather is coming! Also just remember that you're doing fantastic, invaluable things for your children and your sacrifices are and will always have been worth it to both you and to them.
It's those cliques! Had the same problem, I remember when my first was born, went to my first mother/toddler group, sat down beside this group of women and they literally turned their backs to me. I didn't go back. Had awful pnd depression at the time so really struggling as if was. I think keep on trying til you meet that decent sort, they are there. Took me awhile to make friends, I knew no one in the area and was so lonely. I now have a small group of friends but good ones.
I too have had this. It felt crap at the time, especially when I'd been at work all day where I was clearly socially adequate enough there.
I decided to ignore the school mums because they made me feel crap and awkward when they ignored me. It was worse with the ones I'd previously spoken to at parties etc. I'd stand waiting for school end, all tight jaw, nose in the air feeling awful.
Somehow, people started talking to me and I found a few lovely friends, who it turns out felt exactly the same as me about the cliques. The cliques will chat now too but I don't get embroiled in their activities as I've not forgotten how rubbish I felt because of them. Weird, these 'gangs' of grown women, clambering over each other to be the most popular, are at every school. The ones on the PTA are the worst. They think they're getting insider knowledge, daft sods....
Right I could have written your post myself.
I have often wondered if the "alpha girls" who ignored me at school grew up to be the "yummy mummies" who ignored me at all manner of baby groups. Who then turn hot and cold at the school gate depending on whether they want something now that they are "PTA mummies". It's amazing how the same character traits I saw in girls aged 14 are still seen in women in their 40s. Different people, same rubbish.
I don't think you are doing anything wrong, but the plain fact is that if you work full-time, as I do too, and you pretty much do, there's less time for hanging about and making friends. You have only one day a week to go to these groups and realistically many of these mums have all week and make friends and then gravitate towards them more naturally than to someone they spoke to once a few weeks back.
I also didn't make any friends at baby groups either, there's something about them that encourages a friendly but superficial interaction, and I'm not sure they are the best way to find like-minded folk anyway.
My advice is to stop worrying about parent friends and just make friends, so this might be with a colleague you go and have a coffee with who doesn't have children, an older person you get on well with, a friend with a hobby in common and, if you gel with, other parents. Don't look for mummy friends, you won't have small children forever and I find it easier to sustain friendships where you really click and get on, even though they are fewer in number than just because you both have children and find yourself at a loose end.
What TallestTower said is exactly my experience.
I didn't go to mummy and baby groups, I didn't make friends at the school gates (even when I worked p/t and had chance to).
I do now have a couple of friends from the school gates but, tbh, their whole lives revolve around their children and mine, well, doesn't.
When we do meet up, all they want to talk about is the children, how the children are getting on at school, our husbands (well, mine's an ex now...), should we tutor for 11+?, what another mother said... And that's fine, but I'd find it really hard if that's what all my friendships were like! I've tried changing the conversation to talk about different things, but that's what they want to talk about.
So I started making other friends too that I had things in common with by taking up hobbies and interests. I now have a number of friends I have something in common with other than the fact we gave birth to children within the same academic year.
This thread has reminded me of the moment that I realised that I was never going to fit in with the big group of mums who used to meet up for coffee etc where I used to live.
We were all sat round drinking coffee, eating cake, bouncing babies etc. At the time Gordon Brown was still Prime Minister (just) and was having a really rough time. I asked a question, just in conversation about what people though would happen in the upcoming General Election. Tumbleweed. Silence. They looked at me as if I had spoken in a different language. Then a couple of vague comments before the conversation was changed back to Sophie the flipping giraffe and how wonderful she was.
These were all highly educated, professional, mature women. I wondered if I had caked smeared all over my face (I didn't). Had I broken a Golden Rule? I still don't know and don't care.
I work 4 days a week also. The school gate is never going to be the place where I will make friends. I say hello and chat to a fair few people but not loads.
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