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Loneliness in motherhood: We all need mum friends.

I am a British mum, and relocating to Oman after living in Qatar for 7 years was one of the most difficult things I have ever done. Having another human to worry about when relocating makes it even more difficult to build the village that, I feel, every family so desperately needs. We literally knew no one; we had no friends, no family we could rely on. We were starting from scratch and the loneliness in motherhood felt raw and very real!

 

We left behind a large and very tight network of expat friends who essentially became each other’s family. We were pregnant together, gave birth to our kids together, we also celebrated and commiserated together too. So when we arrived in Oman I made it my mission to get out there and to find my tribe as soon as possible; my husband and I are both really sociable people and need those connections.

 

I started by joining all the ‘mum’ Whatsapp groups, Facebook groups, subscribing to the mum networks and going along to all the coffee mornings with my toddler I tow. However, considering all of these women were once in my situation, there weren’t many people that i found particularly friendly or that inclusive. I could sense that cliques were very much a thing which only heightened my feelings of isolation confirming the sense that we’d made a mistake in relocating.


The Guardian recently reported that 90% of new mums have felt lonely since giving birth; which is not surprising in today’s culture of parental independence. In most cultures, the ‘village’ helps to raise all the children sharing the roles of parent, provider and educator. However, in today’s more Western societies, there is such a pressure for Mum’s to be the main care provider, to also hold down a full-time profession, to be able to balance having a social life with running a family home; all while staying sane and actively enjoying it. These last few months, I’ve realised more than ever that having people to support you in your role as parent (and a fully functioning adult) is vital, and we cannot wait to have our village around us again when we move home to the UK in 5 months time.


3 women walking, one with a baby, one pregnant.
We all need mum friends for community, connection, support, and maybe wine too!

Even though I don’t have my mum friends living a short walk away anymore, I thank my lucky stars that we still speak regularly and are able to ask “is this normal?” or rant about the ignorant person in the supermarket, or just simply listen to each other without judgement when retelling the latest poo-gate or meltdown sagas. Without having these women around me (via the wonders of Whatsapp), I absolutely know that the difficult 6 months I’ve had could have felt a whole lot worse. This isn’t even taking into account the newborn phase that is a total minefield as a first-time mum and all that has come in between. Most of these mum friends were friends I had before we all had children, which means we’ve got so much more to talk about than our kids. This is the part I struggled with when joining the expat mummy meet ups. I am more than a mum and don’t always want to talk about my children or parenting (shock!). It’s also totally cool if that’s your bag, but it probably means I’m going to get bored quite quickly and not really get past the pleasantries (sorry, not sorry!) As woman, most of us need deep connections with people, so my advice would be stay in touch with your friends that don’t have children too. Yes, they might be in a difference season of their life and maybe don't understand the tiredness, or the relentless routine for bath and bed, or get why you can’t stay out until 3am anymore (besides the fact it isn't physically possible anymore), but it allows you to be YOU and not 'mum' for a short while.

 

Although not everyone has access to a network of mum friends, it is easier than ever to do this with free antenatal classes being provided in some areas, or organised mum walking groups on Facebook; especially in the UK. Some charitable organisations (National Childbirth Trust) run groups where you can meet other parents from within your areas and learn about pregnancy, breastfeeding and how to take care of your baby when they arrive. I have so many friends from the UK who have made such strong relationships with other parents on these courses that last years after the courses end. Parenthood can be such an emotive time and building your village will be one way you can help to support each other through this crazy time.  


Join my Facebook community to meet other likeminded parents and know that you aren; navigating this alone. Search for 'Pregnancy, Birth & Mum support group'.


Lots of love (and often lots of wine too)

xx


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