One mother's isolation: Why is it so hard to meet other mothers?
"I made so many new friends," other mothers said to me, when they had their babies. "It really opens up your world." Two years on, I have met a small number of mothers, but I don’t see anyone regularly. I have tried. Almost every week, I send a perky text – "Fancy the park?" But on the day the other mother cancels. Her son is sick, still sleeping, hasn’t yet gone to bed.I try again, but next time it’s me who cancels – I’m en route to the doctor or sick myself. Then the following week, my son’s schedule changes. Now he sleeps all afternoon while everyone else’s babies sleep all morning. Then his schedule changes, we try again, but the other mother is 30 minutes late. It’s the wrong 30 minutes. By the time she arrives, my daughter is melting down and needs to go home. We spend the day alone again."What about playgroups?" suggest friends. I ring around. "Oh the playgroup," says one woman vaguely, on the phone. "We stopped that. Couldn’t get enough people." I ring another. A nice woman tells me it starts at ten. This is the time my daughter goes down for her morning nap. We go, and she falls asleep in the buggy as I push her through the gate.
We try again, and again, but the same thing happens. I decide to wake her up, but she cries and nuzzles into my chest. Now the playgroup has ended for the summer and we are back to the playground again. It’s not the isolation that gets to me, but the frustration of my daughter, who wants the company of other children. "Go away baby," the kids in the playground chant, when she tries to climb into a basket or go up their slide.
We go home, and I feel I have failed to grant her access to this new world, the world I have yet to penetrate, the world of mothers and babies.
In conversation with Nikki Walsh.
Nikki Walsh is a writer and editor with a passion for what makes us tick. She lives in Dublin with her husband, her son and a heap of books, mostly on psychology.
Join Nikki next week for more mum rants.