A smile can make all the difference By Sarah Cumberbirch
New mums, tired mums and experienced mums all appreciate a smile of acknowledgement from other mums .... a nod of recognition that raising tiny humans is bonkers!
But it's also well known that women can be competitive with each other. (I was too lazy to be competitive so the hockey team excitement passed me by at school and my competitive streak never developed after that!) However the competitive element is something that I have noticed and found quite tough since becoming a mum.
Suddenly becoming part of the 'mum culture' has meant meeting lots of new people, leaving my usual group of colleagues and familiar day job behind for a while. My friends all have school age kids now so being pregnant and having a newborn meant finding some different support for this time, meeting new people to share these unknown experiences with. I'm lucky and met some lovely girls at the pregnancy classes I attended, girls who made me laugh, talked about the difficulties of pregnancy and new mum life, along with the joys. It became apparent as I spent time in this new mum world that, in some of the friend groups, the competition is fierce! Baby clothes, baby classes, mum bodies, mum fitness and of course who's baby was sleeping through, walking, talking first.
We are all in the same boat, we all have tough days (even those who say they don't!) and so we need more support and less competition. We need to feel comfortable and able to say when we are finding it tough and actually, no we haven't squeezed back into our pre-preggo jeans yet and yes, sometimes this new life can be a bit lonely. We (I) need to feel ok to ask daft questions about using the steriliser and the weird noises the baby makes. As a new mum walking into a baby group on your own isn't easy, especially if you've just about got up and out of the house on time! So being greeted by smiling faces, who are happy to welcome you in and ask how things are going, might just improve someone's day.
I guess I'm just trying to say that we can make a positive difference day to day if we smile at each other more and ask how things are really going, even to people we don't know that well. Its more important that whether pre-preggo jeans are back out of the wardrobe (mine were briefly but I couldn't sit down in them) ....
A knowing smile to the tired mum pushing her pram might just make her day, make her feel supported. It's a reminder that we're all mums and we're all on this crazy, amazing, tough, nappy filled, sleep deprived but wonderful adventure together!