It's strange, this new mummy club I now belong to. It reminds me a little of the first days of university, or secondary school. There's this whole new group of people I'm slowly getting to know and I feel like I'm sussing them out, trying to work out which ones I like, which ones like me, which ones will turn into friends.
It's a long time since I made any new friends. I've been content at work to have friendly colleagues. I have just a handful of truly close friends, with whom I have rich, deeply treasured friendships, all many years old. I am not a facebook friend collector, and I don't make friends easily - I take a long time to relax into really knowing someone, and find maintaining flimsy acquaintances effortful and tiring.
I also really prefer to have one-on-one friends. People who, like me, prefer a simple two-person conversation to the complicated chatter of a large group. I like groups, but I often feel a bit like a spectator in multi-way conversation; or if I enter into it I can find it unsatisfying; cut-off comments all mixing in a big, quickly moving pot. I prefer to take my time and talk and listen and engage; something it's much easier to do with just one or two others.
So now, there are all these groups and opportunities to meet mums. And we have ready-made conversations because we are all obsessed with the weight and intake and output and colour and sound and world of our offspring. And we like to compare and contrast and take comfort from others.
Frantically we skip from how many poos the little ones produce, to swimming lessons, then post baby blubber and cranio-sacral osteopathy*. We share tales of woe - perineal breakdown, multiple attacks of mastitis, infected stitches, babies who won't eat, or gain weight, or sleep. Dates and times are slung through the air - Mabels Monsters, Rhyme Time, Baby Bounce, Mummy and Me Yoga*. We discuss what to wear to a wedding when you're breastfeeding and how to get baby passports and what pushchairs you can take on aeroplanes. We compare slings and prams and clothes and babygyms.
It is wonderful, having this resource of fellow experience. And honestly, all of the mummies I've met are quite lovely. I've seen none of the competitiveness that is parodied in that mum-lit genre of books and columns, and although there is often a barrage of advice or 'well I've read that...' in response to quandaries, people try hard not to be judgmental or too opinionated.
But I'm getting a little weary of the hecticness of chatting in big groups and the need to be polite and thinking all the time about whether you could offend someone with your thoughts or opinions.
I can't wait until I click with someone; until I reach that point where I know I can call someone up with a stupid question, or issue a solo lunch invitation without it seeming a little weird. I'm sure amongst all these lovely women there must be someone with whom I forge strong bonds, but I don't know yet who it will be (almost all of my good friends I have been sceptical of, dismissive of, intimidated by or downright appalled by on first impressions).
I guess it will just - like so many things - take time. At least now I am old and wise enough to know to not get disheartened and to just keep pressing on being sociable and enjoying what I have - after all I am very lucky to have these networks so ready-made and easy to access.
And of course, maybe none of them will become my friends, maybe several of them will. That's the fun of being at the start of something I guess - we don't know what will be. We just have to wait and see.
*yes I know, it is North London we're talking about here!