When Little Miss E started school, we didn’t know anyone. Whereas all our friends in our neighbouring streets went to the local English-medium primary school, we opted for the slightly-further-away-but-still-in-catchment Welsh one. Other than a vague connection to a friend of a friend, I was as much the new kid as my daughter.
And I was terrified! I’d read so many articles about school gate battles, bitchy mums and Mean Girl-style cliques, I was dreading it.
Amid all the emotions of my daughter starting school (at that point it was the pre-school nursery school attached to the primary school she now attends), I was also dealing with my own fears of being the loner mum at the school gates or falling foul of the kind of Mummy Mafia I’d read about in those ”10 types of school mums to avoid”-style articles which are so prominent at this time of year. I’m still scarred by being bullied at school and the idea of it happening again was certainly on my mind.
As ridiculous as the idea of women in their 20s, 30s and 40s acting like a bunch of bitchy teenagers sounds, sadly it happens. I have friends struggling with exactly this right now; being ignored by women they thought were their friends, being left out of class get-togethers, being bitched about from the other side of the yard. I have no idea why grown adults think this is an appropriate way to behave; it’s really not okay at all and they should be ashamed.
But I also know I’m not alone in having met some awesome mums (and dads) at my children’s school. Women (and men) who have gone from being so-and-so’s parent to actual proper friends.
Friends who I have laughed with until I have cried. Friends who have listened to my problems and helped me find a solution. Friends who have confided in me. Friends who I’ve got far too drunk with. Friends who have helped me when I’ve been too poorly to do the school run. Friends I’ve met up with over the holidays with and without the kids. Friends who I don’t just talk to about the kids but with whom I have actual interesting conversations and with whom I have more in common than just the fact we have kids in the same class.
Friends I’m pretty sure will still be my friends when our kids have left primary school and we don’t have the school gates to hold us together any more.
Being self-employed means I can structure my work so that I can be there every day for drop off and pick up. As stressful as the school can be sometimes, I know I’m lucky to be there.
Some of the mums I’ve met work full time or almost full time and are rarely on the school run. I know they hate not being able to do the drop offs and pick ups… but I love that they are first to say yes when a night out is mentioned and are always there at school events.
As much as I am going to miss my babies when the big two go back to school tomorrow and the littlest starts preschool nursery every afternoon, I am looking forward to seeing the school mums on a daily basis again. Nattering at the gates. Heading to the coffee shop after drop off with our pre-schoolers. Impromptu after-school trips to the park after school where we catch up while the kids play. And, of course, mummies ‘ nights out where we can finish conversations and talk about things we can’t talk about in front of little ears.
And, thanks to my third-born starting in the preschool nursery at the same school as his siblings this week, I have a whole new gang of parents to get to know this term too. We’re going to be spending the next eight years together while our little ones are at school so I’m hoping I’ll find a friend or two along the way too.
Have you made friends with other parents at your children’s school? Do let me know in the comments below, on the Cardiff Mummy Says Facebook page, or by tweeting me on @cardiffmummy – and do share this post with them too!
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