KILDARE PARENTING COLUMN: I’ve finally found my tribe at the school gates

It's Just a Phase

Ruth Chambers

Reporter:

Ruth Chambers

Email:

ruth@itsjustaphase.ie

KILDARE PARENTING COLUMN: I’ve finally found my tribe at the school gates

File photo

When I moved home last summer, I had visions of totally reigniting my childhood friendships. Or should I say lifelong friendships; friendships that always stayed strong no matter where in the world I was living. And I have done just this — however I have a whole new set of friends that I see way more of and they are just amazing.

I’ve always heard other mammies talking about how their social circle widened once their children started national school.

I never really thought much about it because, at the time, it didn’t apply to me. However, I get it now.

Mammies of school-going children are like a tribe; a tribe that have each other’s backs, an all-inclusive tribe. It’s the business.

For the last four Friday nights on the trot, I have been out on the tiles. Each of these nights, there wasn’t one of my old friends in sight.

I was out with the mammy tribe and I feel like I’ve known these women all my life, and certainly not for just a few months.

They have my back. They have my kids’ backs. They are on hand to help should I need it. And sure they are great craic to out on a session with.

Back in the day, I went to an all-girls secondary school, and for the most part the girls in it didn’t have your back. Indeed, there was backstabbing, bullying and bitching. The atmosphere, at times, could be toxic.

Girls can be so cruel to one another and this is not reserved just for same-sex schools. Jealousy rages. So too does judgement, and I even felt this when Aidan and Sarah were younger. You know the whole bottle versus breast debate! It’s not just school girls that can be mean, mammies can be too.

Perhaps I’m just lucky to have met a great bunch, but it does seem that all the judgement and jealousy vanish once you are a parent in the schoolyard.

If I’m running late for pick-up time, one of the tribe steps in and gets Aidan. If I have an appointment and need someone to look after Aidan and Sarah, one of the tribe is always there.

Adult nights out are all-inclusive. There are lifts offered and rounds bought as we talk about the kids! Sure what else would we be talking about?

Now, of course, being a stay-at-home mammy certainly helps the situation. I’m in the schoolyard for drop-off every morning, and I’m back at 2pm for collection. I’m talking to these women five mornings and afternoons a week.

Some are stay-at-home mammies too, and we quite often meet up after the drop-off for a coffee.

Some are mammies who are using their parental leave from work to allow them to drop their kids at school. Then, of course, there are mammies that I never see at all because they are out working, but I’ve gotten to know their childminders, who are also part of the tribe.

I always thought that living out in the country would lead to more of a quiet life. In my previous life of estate living, I had people all around me.

I had great friends in my estate and I made friends with other mammies with kids in the same playschool as Aidan and Sarah, but it wasn’t on the same level as it is now.

Maybe it’s easier because I’m living in the place where I’m from.

However, I didn’t know any of these women when I lived here many moons ago. They are all new faces. I met them last September but it feels like I’ve known them forever. Yes, that’s a cliché, but it’s the truth.

And now I’d be totally lost without them. They are my social life.

During the day my kids are my life and when I go out these mammies are my life. We go out and talk about our kids. It may seem sad to some but that’s where I’m at right now and I’m really enjoying it.

Think about it. I get up at 6am and look after the kids until they go to school. I talk to the mum tribe when I’m dropping off the kids, and thereafter I mostly come home and get the housework done. I then go back to the school, collect Aidan and then happily spend the rest of the evening with both kids.

These other mammies are the only adult contact I get Monday to Friday.

And while I adore being with my kids every day, it’s so nice to have other adult contact. I’d go doolally otherwise, to be perfectly honest.

Light at the end of the tunnel

So if you’re a mamma currently at home with a toddler, or indeed at home on maternity leave and feeling lonely, let me tell you, there is a beaming light at the end of the tunnel.

Sometimes parenthood can be a lonely place. I’ve been in that place, but sending your child to school will change things.

You’ll meet a whole new gang of women who are on the same page as you, and hopefully women who will become great friends. It’s totally and utterly refreshing.

Until next week folks!

You can contact me on ruth@itsjustaphase.ie; Twitter - @_itsjustaphase_; Instagram - @itsjustaphaseblog, or you’ll find more of my musings at www.itsjustaphase.ie.