You may have heard me talk about Mush before, but if you haven't, Mush is the reason that I have any mum friends at all.
Having opted out of NCT and antenatal classes I was decidedly mum friendless, with the few friends that do have children not living close and not on Maternity Leave. I spoke to my neighbour who recommended I download an app called Mush, basically a version of Tinder but for meeting mums. You create a profile, add your postcode and voila! It brings up all the mums who are in your area, providing distance from your postcode plus a picture of them and how many children they have/ how pregnant they are.
It was an absolute godsend and I set about saying hello to lots of pregnant woman in my area, chatting about how we were finding pregnancy and getting to know each other. As with dating, you don't always click right away, but sometimes you meet someone who is so on your wavelength that you wondered what you did without them.
Out of all the women I spoke to I have been lucky enough to really click with a couple, and we've become firm friends. We help each other out, we rejoice in baby victories and we lament over our old drunken selves. I would have found this whole experiences a.k.a Motherhood a bloody nightmare without them.
It's so hard to find new friends at this age. You tend to have your core friends and that's fine, but putting yourself out there again is scary and the Mush app takes the edge off that and makes it easy to find 'your people.'
When they announced on Instagram that they had tickets to the launch of their new book 'The Mumsition: Your friendly companion to the first year of motherhood' I jumped at the chance to go along, especially as I'm really trying to make sure that I get out of the house with Rosie and not get scared of putting us out there in the big wide London. I entered my name and got an email to say we had an invite with a +1 so I invited my Mum along, so we could spend the day together and so she could see her grandchild, who I think she loves more....
After a frantic morning where I had to wake her from a nap to dress her, give her a last minute feed and deposit her crying into the carrier we made it out the door. I decided not to take the pram as the event was all the way on the other side of London and despite the heat it is so much easier to wear her than faff with lifts and the underground. Luckily she was a dream on the tube and slept the whole way.
We arrived at the venue, a very creative hub-type building with lots of bold colours and patterns on the walls. Food was provided in pastry shaped format, along with big tubs of fresh fruit and yoghurt. We grabbed a couple of pastries (I did later go back for a pot of fruit) and headed up the theatre style seating to find a good spot.
Once everyone was seated the founders of Mush said a few words before the panel were introduced. The speakers were the lovable Stacey Solomon, the fashion forward Gilly Ferguson, accomplished author Amy Nickell and The Mumsition writer herself, Isabel Mohan.
They kicked off with a conversation about becoming a mother and the first time someone says to you about your daughter or son. It's in that moment it sinks in that there is another layer to you. It also helps you understand quite how much your own parents love you, and the efforts they made to raise you. There is no way to realise this until you've had your own child however, and there were many nods of agreement from the crowd when the panel all said they'd wished they'd known all this when they were teenagers.
Stacey spoke a little about her, at the time unrealised, postnatal depression and how she didn't immediately love being a mother. It also took time for her to adjust and it didn't all fall into place straight away and took time over several months. She was only 17 when she had her first child so found it difficult to come to terms with how her life had changed. Of course you love your children unconditionally, that's fundamental, but sometimes it takes a bit longer to come to terms with becoming a mum.
This led into a discussion about mum friends, Stacey commenting that she had lots of friends before she became a mum. This was an age thing, you have lots of friends at school but once she had a baby it became hard to know how to approach these friends. She managed to keep a couple of close friends who stood by her. Gilly and Amy agreed that all you need is a few really close friends who will support you and go through the experience with you.
Amy touched on the difficulties of being a single mum and keeping her own identity. She wanted to date but didn't want to be judged by other mums. This was a point that came up several times throughout the conversation, the fear of being judged by other mums for not being good enough, or for making decisions that they didn't agree with.
Gilly commented that she found it hard to know who she was after becoming a mother. Keeping her identity, especially when it came to fashion was a challenge. It was an area where she'd always felt so confident and it had driven her career. Trying to not lose herself once she became a mother took time, although eventually she found a 'uniform' that worked. The whole panel laughed and agreed that leggings are a big part of being a mum. I can identify with this. My style has definitely changed since having Rosie, although it had to, because a lot of my clothes are not breast feeding friendly.
Stacey led on from this by telling us a story about a magazine that ran a story commenting on her 'saggy boobs.' She's had two children, and breast fed both, but what the story commented on was how she looked in a bikini. She was so worried about what message is being sent out to young girls and other mums. The message that how you look after you've had children is important, when in fact it's the opposite. Everyone feels pressure to look perfect after but it's not the reality. Everyone should be happy with their own bodies and ignore what anyone else says as it's not healthy or sustainable to live up to the media's 'perfect body.'
Of course at this time Rosie decided to poo all the way up her back (although that above picture is a butter wouldn't melt one) so I had to strip her naked where we sat whilst she cried. I was frantically trying to sssh her but I suppose if there is any where I'm going to be able to get away with a baby crying and not be judged is at an event for Mums. As I was bouncing her up and down trying to keep her calm another mum told me that she loved my outfit and that took my mind off my crying daughter and worry about interrupting the speakers. It's that type of mum building that I love and something that I have found with my Mush community.
The conversation finished with some quick fire questions that spawned a funny conversation about the strangest thing you'd googled as a mum - cleaning baby's foreskin it turns out - and the most pointless baby purchase, the clear winner being a baby monitor because the baby is only ever upstairs or attached to you.
After some audience questions for the panel and a big round of applause the event was over. We were encouraged to buy a copy of the book but I didn't have any cash on me so I'm going to have to pick mine up on Amazon. It looks like a fun, helpful take on the first year of motherhood so I'll give it a read once ordered and report back. If you want to order it before then you can find it here.
It was so lovely to go to an event, and to sit and listen to interesting topics that are so relevant as a new mum. These are all the things that you worry about and it always feels so much better when you know that countless mums before you have been through the exact same thing, or are going through it with you.
If you are a new mum and are looking for mum friends make sure you download the Mush app, and you can follow them on Instagram @mushmums. You really might meet the best people you've ever met.