Just when you thought you had met you partner in life and were over the butterflies-in-the-stomach thing, you find yourself at the precipice of a whole new dating experience: mummy dating. Forging lifelong friendships after your little one is born takes self-restraint, hard work, commitment, communication, timing and these seven stages.
Palms sweaty with anticipation, you tap away at the keyboard, searching for a kindred spirit. Someone with a sense of humour, a kind heart and a baby who is the same age but sleeps far less than your baby.
Once you lock onto such a person or a mothers' group of several such people, you spend 10 minutes writing and rewriting some variation of "Hey, our babies are the same age. Want to meet up for a coffee and a chat?" when what you really mean is "Hi! I haven't left the house in weeks but I showered today, want to meet and be best friends forever?"
After setting a date and time, you carefully plan your shower and "look" for the day. In the morning you tear off your pyjamas with a newfound liberation and reintroduce yourself to your "outside clothes". You shower, do your hair and makeup, dress your baby in an adorable outfit and remind yourself how to put real pants on — the kind with a zipper, button and everything.
You look in the mirror several times and give yourself a "damn you look good, girrrl" wink and then wonder whether the whole thing passes for effortless — you want the other mothers to believe that you look like this every day. They cannot know that you live in trackies. They cannot know.
Your first meeting takes place in a bright, semi-crowded place — just in case the other mummy or mummies are in fact a single, balding man named "Hank". The place serves coffee because you haven't slept in weeks and it has enough space to land an A380 because you all have prams now.
You glide in, doing your best to appear breezy and relaxed all the while resisting the urge to climb up on the table and do the Sound of Music freedom spin. You smile and nod and try not to appear too clingy or enthusiastic when you feel a connection with one of the other mums.
When the time comes to part ways, you try not to come on too strong as you pull out your phone and propose a number swap and another meeting. Weeks of isolation have made you a tad desperate, but you fight the impulse to follow one of the mums home or suggest meeting every day for the rest of time and, instead, nonchalantly mention that you're free at the same time the following week.
You watch your phone incessantly thereafter.
The call comes and you fail at keeping your voice calm as you agree to a playdate at a park or cafe —somewhere you can eat lunch and get to know one another better. You still dress up, but this time only dab at a spit-up stain with a wipe, rather than changing your entire outfit.
After an hour of chitchat, you feel confident enough to mention poo. When that goes over well, you just keep going. You have lots of burning baby poo-related questions and you feel the time is right to let them have their time in the sun.
You've established that neither of you is a serial killer and feel safe enough to swap house addresses. You extend an invite to hang out at home instead of a cafe and then spend hours scrubbing the living room floor with a toothbrush and hiding every piece of clutter in a cupboard.
You dress casually and try to pretend this is how your house always looks. Your baby is dressed in a trendy set of pyjamas — a miniature version of casual chic. You bake brownies. Everybody loves brownies.
You let the crazy out. The next time you communicate you ramble incoherently about baby poo (there are a lot of things to cover, okay?), only taking breaks to draw a breath or count the days since your last shower. You unapologetically stuff your face with whatever food is available while mumbling about baby weight.
You still dress in outside clothes, but they no longer match. Your baby wears a cute outfit, but she has no shoes and her socks are different colours. You know this is for life now and wonder when you should start planning your kids' wedding.
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