Buggies Huggies Hubbies

I’ve probably always avoided making friends with other mothers. Why should the fact you have both given birth mean that you have anything else in common with a woman? At all?

Maybe it’s the drugs in the hospital, but some women seem to come out having forgotten who they were before. They enter a world of controlled crying, teething remedies, pram models, Next, sleeping patterns, buggies, Huggies, hubbies, sore tit discussion, centiles, colic, arguments about weaning and trying for the next one.

I’ve been wary of other mothers since my attempts at baby groups when Tom was tiny. (Comparing teething salts to Class A drugs in the middle of Baby Massage and expecting to get a laugh was a bit naive.) At school, I’m stealthy, keeping my head down and darting in and out. This is partially due to the fact I work up until the minute Tom needs collecting. I don’t have time to chat in the playground for an hour before the bell goes. When he’s in after school club, I never see other Mums, because we all arrive in drips.

I hadn’t tried to make friends with other mothers, because it didn’t feel like we were stopping here. I always thought we’d move to the posh end of town,Ā  but recently I realised we will never afford to. The rent I pay on our good house with all its space would get me a one bedroomed flat in the posh end of town. If our terraced house was in the posh end of town, it would have ivy on the front, be marketed as a ‘cottage’ and cost twice as much. It really isn’t that bad here, it’s been home for three years. Tom is at a good school now. Even if I could afford to move to the posh end of town, I’d be jeopardising that.

I decided to make an effort at Tom’s swimming lessons. One of the mums had a baby with her. He was beautiful.

“I like your baby,” He smiled at me and reminded me how small Tom used to be.

“Is he your only one?” said the Mum, nodding at Tom splashing around in the pool.


“Oooh go on, get your other half told, just have another one!” she laughed.

And I felt really pissed off with the poor woman. Even though it was perfectly reasonable of her to presume there was an other half and that I could ‘just have another one,’ I felt really irrationally annoyed with her.

The following week, I decided to swim in the deep end of the pool while Tom was having his lesson. In the changing rooms, another mother said, “It’s hardly worth you jumping in there for 20 minutes and only having half the pool to swim in, is it? Why don’t you come to lane swimming in the morning when he’s at school?”

“Because I am at work.”

“Oh yes.. that’s difficult I suppose.”


Us working mothers always miss each other, because we are always darting around in opposite directions. I want to meet another mum who understands what it is like to be the breadwinner, who knows how hard it is trying to do well at a career whilst raising a child, another Mum who doesn’t have a “hubby” to moan to after a really crap day. (Or a mother who is married but would never, ever use the word “hubby.”) A Mum with whom I can sit down and chat while our children play together.Ā  A mum who thinks indoor soft play areas on industrial estates are the most hellish, depressing places on earth. A mum who only washes up when people are coming round and who doesn’t know how to use an iron. I don’t know if she’s out there though, or if our paths will ever cross, so I need to stop staring at the vowel snake and the hopscotch on the playground. I need to look up and smile.


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12 responses to “Buggies Huggies Hubbies

  1. Try again.
    As I did say/was saying/was trying to say the mention of the word ‘hubby’ fills me with dread. It’s just horribly sycophantic and chummy and I can’t stand it. ‘Other half’ is even worse as I don’t see how/why you are suddenly half a person because of your relationship status etc…I can’t bear ‘other half’ being directed at me because I tend to think I’m pretty whole on my own regardless of him?
    I also despise all this ‘bump’ ‘little one’ ‘prince/princess’ talking which seems to be obligatory pre-motherhood (and seems to continue loudly throughout it).
    If I suddenly turn into one of these people post-Judgement day please feel free (in fact I would be happy) if you found a way of shooting me in the head – I don’t want to be one of these people, I already hate the way they speak to me like I’ve planned this baby FOREVER like they have and how obviously I am completelyorganisedandreadycauseyoujusthavetoberight?
    I am scared of most of the PROFESSIONAL MOTHERS I have encountered so far and I am hoping not to be sucked in!
    There are some people out there who somehow maintain bits of themselves and are still mothers like yourself and I plan to be the same
    I hope!!

  2. I almost fit the bill, with the grand exception of my penis of course. Grand may not be the most appropriate word actually.

  3. I promise faithfully, I will never, ever, use the word ‘hubby’.

  4. It’s difficult when it feels like you don’t ‘fit’ : but think how much worse it would be if you lived in the posh part of town : 100% of them would be full time smugmums : although I suspect that many of these hate us working mums for rubbing our own money/ own life freedom in their faces!
    That thing about teething powder looking like cocaine : come on : we’ve all laughed at that, surely! Anyone who hasn’t is a dead-eyed bore you don’t want to talk to. You should definitely increase your rate of risque jokes, as this will allow you to identify possible edgy mums you might get on with.

  5. I am that woman.
    I have never felt comfortable in a playground environment. It stems from only being 21 when my eldest started school (I looked about 17 too…). She went to quite a ‘nice’ school, where most of the other mums drove landrovers and were about 37. No one EVER spoke to me and I felt really like I didn’t deserve to be there, that I was really just pretending to be a parent.
    I’m single now. I work. There are dishes piled up next to the sink and I’ve been known the hide them in cupboards when people come round.

  6. Ragged Thread

    I shoved all my pots and pans in the oven until my guests had gone. And I can’t even claim the excuse of having a child.

  7. wrysuitor

    No kidding! I ended up giving up on finding any moms like me (except on the internet), because if they exist in this part of the world, they are undercover and I do not have access to their secret club.

  8. – you go girl- you’ll find the friends you are looking for – they might not be on the playground, but they’ll be lining up on-line.

  9. I adore your blog anyway, but this post has just convinced me we are most probably soulmates šŸ˜‰ I would rather gouge my eyes out with a blunt teaspoon than go around making ‘Mummy’ friends. Loving your work šŸ™‚

  10. Eve

    We recently moved house and, during my son’s first swimming lesson, I struck up a conversation with a Dad at the poolside in the hope of finding out some local information. He gave me the lowdown on the school, best takeaways and then moved onto soft play. ‘It’s great’ he said ‘it opens at 10 o’clock on a Saturday so you can send your husband with the kids whilst you catch up with the ironing’.

    I know it’s not in the same league as your comments but really, what inspires people to make such assuming comments to people they’ve never met before? I do have a husband, but I don’t iron anything. I laughed in his face and, 3 months on, we still haven’t made it to the soft play.

    You and Tom sound like you’re doing brilliantly. There are plenty of Mums out there who fit your brief (I am definitely in the, ahem, domestic sloven category, shame I don’t live closer!) and real friends are worth a bit of a look for xxx

  11. God I’m with you on this. It’s like the mothers were in suspended animation until their children reached the school gates. Who were their friends before? Do they have friends that aren’t mothers? They dress the same, meet for lunch during the day, stand in a huddle of silent disapproving judgement at the gate on a morning and their children all do the same activities at the weekend so they can coffee together. They (and their children) are always perfectly turned out – they would never, ever clean their child’s uniform with fabreze and spit.
    I’m not like them, I don’t have the time or the inclination, but that only leads to guilt that I should partake to foster my child’s friendships. I don’t want to though. Should I?
    I struggle with all this too. Most of my friends don’t have children, but I actual like it that way. Although it would be nice to have a partner in crime at the school gates so I could form my own huddle/haggle.
    I have a husband who equally shuns the dad’s group (there’s one of those at our school too, which concentrates on rugby, golf and the size of their car). We revel in our difference a little too mockingly. He doesn’t feel the guilt I feel about not partaking in the school gate thing. He would also kill me if I called him ‘hubby’ ‘darling husband’ ‘other half’ etc.

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