Social Awkwardness and the School Run

So Monkey started school last week and there are big changes in store for him and for all of us. He did so well and is loving school. I am getting used to the school run but I have never looked forward to the whole playground mums thing. The social etiquette, the cliques and just figuring out how to navigate it all makes me very nervous.

I’m not the most socially confident person. I wouldn’t call it shyness really, more a social awkwardness. In certain situations I can hide it. I can make small talk, I can strike up a bit of a conversation with another parent at play area or baby group. I can be polite and friendly. But in a bigger group I find that much much harder. And taking it beyond politeness and small talk and I really falter. It’s one of the reasons I don’t feel I’ve connected with many bloggers and why you won’t find me at a blogging event. Not because I don’t want to, but because I’m terrified I will say something stupid. That people will sort of “see through me” and put simply, won’t like me. So in general I keep people at a certain distance.

I’ve always been a little like this but it has gotten worse over recent years, in part due to the disintegration of my friendship with the girls I at one time considered my closest friends. The breakdown of any relationship can leave scars and this one definitely did. I’m not going to go into all the why’s and wherefores. I know I wasn’t blameless but I also know it wasn’t entirely my fault. It was a disintegration that happened over the course of a few stressful years, in the run up to my wedding, immediately after it, all throughout my difficult pregnancy with Monkey and through those hard first months with him.

Whenever we arranged to meet up I would be anxious in the days beforehand and generally have a sleepless night the night before, imagining all that could go wrong, what I would say that would provoke that response. The meet up itself would never be quite as bad as I feared but there would be barbs and thinly veiled insults that I would then relive for days wondering what I could have said or done differently. Wishing I had the guts to give as good as I got. These were my closest friends. Nuts eh? It just wasn’t healthy and eventually I walked away.

The trouble is that they were so ready and willing to see the worst in me. To believe the worst. It made me question myself, to question if I really was this awful person they seemed to believe me to be. These were some of my oldest friends, surely they knew me better than that? Or was I really, actually like that?

Thankfully they weren’t my only friends and I grew much closer to some of my other friends who had kids around the same time. Friends who couldn’t understand what was going on and who dubbed the others my “frenemies.” Friends who thankfully like me the way I am and don’t make me second guess myself all the time.

It’s all about 4 years ago now and I have moved on, I’m no longer terrified of running into them or seeing them somewhere. But it has affected me a lot. I struggle to let anyone in and am constantly worried about saying the wrong thing to a friend and the same thing happening again. One of my newest close mummy friends went a bit funny with me recently and I over analysed everything and thought I had ruined another friendship. Faced with those feelings I do one of 2 things, I try and over compensate for what I think I have done wrong… Or I back off completely to try and maintain a bit of pride and sort of not show I care. It turned out my friend’s dad was ill and she was very worried about him. I of course supported her and kicked myself for assuming the worst and assuming it was about me. But that’s what I do.

During those few days (which were also in the run up to Monkey starting school) I had a dream where I was talking about it to my brothers and they laughed in my face and said “yeah but that’s what you’re like isn’t it? You always say the wrong thing!” and it was horrible. I felt so rubbish and I don’t think they do actually think that about me but subconsciously I clearly do. It’s so annoying and self-defeating and self-centred to always make things about me and to assume it is always my fault and I try really hard to break the cycle but it isn’t easy.

I was supposed to meet up with a very lovely blogger recently and we couldn’t make it unfortunately due to various reasons and I have to admit that much as I wanted to meet up and get to know her, part of me was relieved. I was so worried she wouldn’t like me or that I would say something stupid and we wouldn’t get on.

The school run means challenges like this daily and I guess just reminds me of my anxieties. There are 60 kids in Monkey’s intake and though they are split into 2 classes, they are all sharing the same huge foundation stage area. So that’s 60 sets of parents I will see twice a day, every school day, for the next year, and beyond. As I said I can do the smile and small talk (even though doing so makes me feel horribly uncomfortable)… But not beyond that. I know some of the mums of Monkey’s preschool friends, but not many. Even there I struggled to have the confidence to talk to any of the groups of mums who already knew each other and it’s even worse now. There are so many opportunities for me to make a complete idiot of myself!

Ive umm-ed and ah-ed about whether to actually post this post as it feels quite self indulgent and wasnt really the post I intended to write when I started out. I don’t think I had realised how my apprehension of the school run and the social etiquette of the playground had  brought back all my feelings of inadequacy to the extent that it has. Maybe I needed to write this as some sort of cathartic experience and then move on. I was chatting to a lovely mum when I dropped Monkey off earlier and nthing terrible happened… I don’t have to be best friends with these people immediately, if ever so the lesson to me is to stop wrrying so much!

Does the school run make you nervous? Are you a social butterfly of the playground?

I get by, with a little help from my friends

My word of the week this week, is friends, because I am incredibly grateful for the wonderful friends have in my life and honestly don’t know how I would cope without them!

Last Friday night my closest Mummy friends and I got together for a much needed catch up and meal out. We all worked together pre-children and since having our little munchkins we have gotten so close. We share the ups and the downs and though we really are all quite different, we support each other and are 100% there for each other. As one of my friends put it the other night, we are so lucky we found each other. It had been far too long since our last catch up without children and I hope we don’t leave it so long next time. We got things off our chests, shared the highs and lows of life lately and gave each other a good talking to where needed. Love my girls and I felt so happy and chilled afterwards.

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I’ve also had some lovely time with some newer mummy friends this week and play dates with their little ones. Since Monkey started our local preschool I have gotten to know a few of the local mums. I am a bit of an introvert so find the playground mums thing really awkward but there are a couple of mums I really get on with. One in particular introduced me to someone as the first mummy friend she had met who she would have been friends with pre-children, which I was really touched by. She and I really click which is lovely as her eldest will be in Monkey’s class at primary school, so I think we have many years of friendship ahead of us! Some of the other mummies I chat to on the playgroup run are equally lovely and sometimes just those few mins chatting at the beginning and end of the day, sharing trials and tribulations really can make so much difference to how I feel at the end of the day.

Screenshot_20160420-205641I have also felt incredibly grateful for the friendship and support I get online as a result of my blog and social media this week. Parenting can be so hard, and after sharing a particularly low morning on Instagram and Facebook, the support and encouragement I got from cyber friends was incredible. Many are women I have never met but thanks to the internet we are able to reach out and support each other through this motherhood journey, and I am so grateful for that.

My blog has connected me to so many wonderful people, and as I can be a bit introverted as I mentioned above, I don’t always make the most of this. I shy away from blog conferences and meeting fellow bloggers purely out of shyness and a lack of confidence in myself. But this week I have finally arranged to meet up with a blogger I have admired for some time. I am nervous but we get on so well in typing that I hope we will get on as well in person!

My blog has also reconnected me with people I have lost touch with over the years. A lovely lady I met travelling 9 years ago got in touch this week and told me how much my blog helps her through her motherhood journey, and well wow, what an awesome thing. Helping anyone with my ramblings is amazing and reconnecting with a friend from my past is always lovely. There are other lovely blogging mummies that I worked with in a previous life, and I’ve mentioned before how Sarah from Run, Jump, Scrap and I have become much closer through blogging. Our husbands have been friends since childhood so it really is great when we all get together. We have arranged to meet next weekend and I am so looking forward to that!  The friendship side was just something I really never expected when I started writing my little blog but it is a fantastic bonus.

The final reason that my word of the week this week is friends, is because Saturday is my birthday, and we are having a bbq in the afternoon (fingers crossed for kind weather!) with lots of family and friends over. Once again I am so grateful for having so many lovely people in my life who are coming to celebrate with me, please cross your fingers for good weather for me, otherwise we may have a slightly crowded house!

How has your week been?

The Reading ResidenceAnd then the fun began...Mummascribbles

Having some fun

My word of the week this week is a great one. One that I am really happy to talk about. It has been a lovely week, full of fun, so that is my word, fun!

After the past however many months of struggling, first with the difficult newborn days, with colic and reflux thrown into the mix, to just the endless parade of germs, colds and flus keeping us down, it is great to say we have had a fun week for a change!

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Fun with Friends

Last weekend we had a visit from some very lovely friends of ours who live in South London. We last saw them way back in July last year when their newest little one was just 6-7 weeks old so it was lovely to see them now, to catch up with how everything is and see how much both of their girls have grown. Plus of course we have a new arrival of our own that they were keen to meet.

Their little E is still as lovely and chilled as she was when she was younger and she is so cute and diddy. Her and LM are almost the same size – though of course being 5 months older little E is way ahead developmentally. She’s such a happy girl constantly smiling and so content sitting playing with toys and it was lovely to see.

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Monkey loved seeing their oldest, S, again too. He had been a bit poorly and grumpy over the weekend so we weren’t entirely sure how it would go but they arrived and he was so so happy at having a little friend to play with that he seemed to completely forget his grumpiness! S is such a cutie, just a little bit older than Monkey and they are so similar in so many ways. She was great following him around to see what he was up to and he did really well with sharing his toys and playing with her as well as alongside her.

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What was really nice was that they were able to stay for a while, often when we see them it is a bit of a flying visit so it was nice to be able to spend some time together to chat about life with another baby and all the challenges and happiness that brings! There was a really great moment while us Mums were with the babies and having a natter. One Daddy was dozing in the garden and we thought the other was playing play-doh with the older kiddies. In reality this was happening.

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The kids were playing together so well that Hubs had decided to have a rest too hehe. Who can blame him eh? Late in the afternoon we went for a walk so that the youngest 2 could get a nice nap while we all had some fun. It was just lovely and Monkey and S were running around having so much fun together, it really was adorable.

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They even got an ice cream on the way home, lucky kiddies :). They stayed for tea then it was time for them to head home. I’ve said before how much I value their friendship and I really, really look forward to seeing the kids grow and play together over the years to come :).

Country Kids from Coombe Mill Family Farm Holidays Cornwall
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A Mystery Illness & A Winter Wedding

This weekend was the wedding of one of my closest friends. I had been looking forward to it for so long and been pretty involved in the planning (and stress) of it as one of the bridesmaids. Suffice to say what we did not need the week before the wedding was the illness and sleepless nights we had last week! I was shattered, spotty with huge bags under my eyes (not an ideal look for wedding photos) and had to pull out of a couple of sessions where I was supposed to help make wedding favours etc :( . Luckily the bride was very understanding and I think she just wanted me to try and rest when I could to eliminate the bags under my eyes!

Monkey slowly started to get better as the week progressed but then LM got a bit more grumpy than usual. Then she developed a weird spot on one hand, followed by one on the opposite hand the following day. Around this time I found out that a friend’s little girl, who we had seen the previous week, had come down with chicken pox. I googled what this looked like and immediately thought this may be it. Not exactly good timing with a wedding to attend at the weekend and Monkey just starting to feel better!

But then nothing happened. She didn’t get any poorlier and no more spots appeared. She had a funny spot on one ear but other than that it was just one on each knuckle. Which is an odd place to get chicken pox as they usually start on your face and torso. With the wedding looming I took her to the Dr on Friday afternoon, mainly so we could know one way or another really. But that didn’t happen as the Dr wasn’t sure what it was either! It could be chicken pox, or it could  be hand foot & mouth, or it could be nothing, We would have to wait a few days and see but it was probably a viral infection of some sort.

She had been so grumpy lately and with the bride being 6 mths pregnant we decided not to risk taking a potentially contagious baby with us to the wedding. Meaning I had to go solo :(. Friday night I made it to the venue with the other bridesmaid and we spent the evening decorating tables and cupcakes and generally getting things ready.

Saturday morning I had my hair done at 8am and then once Monkey had been collected by Nanny & Aunty Maggie (as had always been the plan for the day) I left a grumpy hubs with LM and headed to the venue to meet the bride and other bridesmaid, to get the last few bits ready in the reception room, then get ourselves ready for a beautiful wedding.

It was a hectic morning but was such a beautiful wedding and I love a good wedding, always so nice to see people marry the one they love and even more special when they are good friends of yours. I really missed hubs and would’ve been lovely to spend the day together but it was the right decision not to take the baby. If she had been there it would have been stressful constantly wondering if she was ok and what hubs was doing with her, when what I really needed to do was concentrate on the bride. Luckily I had a lot of friends there too so I never felt alone or anything. The biggest downside was with photos though, I only managed a few snaps throughout the day (mainly just of me and my friends mucking about) and they aren’t exactly brilliant but here they are.

Sarah's wedding

I am looking forward to seeing the professional shots of the day as I am sure they will be better than these! I had a good time with my friends though and it was lovely after such a rough week to really forget about the kiddies for a while (knowing they were being looked after) and just be me for the day. LM seemed to perk up during the day too so Hubs didn’t have a terrible day with her and she has been a bit perkier since. Another couple of spots have appeared on one of her fingers but we still aren’t really sure what is up with her. We may never know 100% whether it is chicken pox…. unless she gets it again I suppose!

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Playing with friends – 27 months

Monkey made a really lovely big step last week, and one I am really proud of. All babies and toddlers start off playing pretty independently from other children, sort of sid by side, without interacting with them. Monkey has always been particularly wary of other kids, especially after a knock earlier this year. He has been getting a lot better and there have been signs of improvement over the past few months. For example he stopped launching himself off the side of a climbing frame whenever he saw another child nearby!

Pretty much every week we meet up dor a play date with my friend S and her little girl E, who is almost exactly a year older than Monkey. They get on pretty well for the most part though do bicker and snatch toys from each other at times. E though has been very excited by the development of Monkey’s speech over the past few months, often exclaiming “he can nearly talk as good as I can!!”

There has just been little more signs of interaction between them over the last few weeks and then last week they really actually played together. They were lying on the edge of the ‘baby’ zone in the soft play and after watching E roll of a few times (making Monkey chuckle a lot) they then started counting together and trying to roll off at the same time. Sometimes they managed it, other times they were way out of sync, but they were taking it in turns counting down and really trying to do it together.

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WP_20140903_12_24_36_ProThey looked so cute playing together S and I really had a moment! E is a really sociable little girl and loves playing with other kiddies whereas Monkey has always been much more reserved. We spend so much time together and S was as proud of Monkey as I was. It may seem small but actually a huge step for him and one fo the many signs recently about how much he is growing up and getting more independent from me. Just so lovely :)


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A Fab Weekend with Friends

2008

Annabel & I in 2008

Last weekend some very good friends of ours came to visit from Newcastle. Annabel and I worked together for just a few months nearly 10 years ago and somehow, wonderfully the friendship has lasted. There have been times when we haven’t seen each other for a long time, or have barely spoken, but when we get together it is always as if no time has passed. There has been girls nights out in Manchester and catch ups in London.

What’s really great though is that our lives have gone in pretty similar directions now. While I am settled with Hubby and Monkey, she also has a lovely husband and an 18 month old Doodle who is lovely. If anything mummyhood and the challenges it brings has brought us even closer together, although we have never lived so far apart before!

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