I wrote this reflecting, mainly, on my first year after having Arlo. I don’t really feel like this any more, but, as usual with most things, I find that it’s only once I’m out of that frame of mind that I’m able to evaluate past feelings and write about it.

south london mum


Dear South London Mum,

 I kind of got plonked in this situation rather unexpectedly, and I feel like I’m playing one big game of catch up.

Can you tell?

 I wonder whether you noticed my awkward shuffle when the NCT teacher describes our choice as “very unusual” for a London couple in their early twenties to decide to start a family.

 It shouldn’t be awkward. But I just want one area of my life where I don’t feel different. If I don’t quite fit in with most twenty-somethings my age, I want to try my best to feel I fit in as a new mum.

 But it’s difficult.

I don’t have a wedding to talk about. I don’t join in with the ‘How long did it take you to conceive / When did you decide to start trying’ conversations.

I don’t have anything to add with regards to house extensions or kitchen renovations. I don’t have the same dilemma about moving near to good schools before the application date.

You do a really great job of treating me the same as you, and I am so grateful for that. Perhaps you genuinely feel that we ARE similar, even though I feel like the biggest sore thumb around.

I don’t have regular salon-maintained hair. My clothes are all tired with holes in. I have one pair of shoes for winter (Converse) and one pair for summer (Birkenstocks). We aren’t searching for a childminder or a nursery so I can have a day off. I didn’t go anywhere this summer.

My main aim of every day is to spend zero pounds exactly. My town is a complete deadzone so we always have to travel out to do anything. In London traffic, that’s half an hour at least, and most of you live about an hour away. I feel irrationally guilty and angry if Arlo and I get caught short and end up having to buy lunch or a drink.

It feels shameful and stressful to be so unsettled financially.

Still, if I had more time and means to see you. I’d probably realise that we have more in common than I think. Or at least, we all have our own internal struggles. Perhaps we might even breach that tricky barrier of superficial conversation topics.

But I can’t afford to blow £15 a week on a cafe/soft play meet-up. There is no space to invite a group round to mine, there isn’t room for us all to sit down, and it’s really not a toddler-friendly set-up (And yes, I realise that sounds like a ridiculous excuse when there are two toddlers living there.)

I probably seem disconnected. I know I could be more sociable. But I am held back by my anxiety that you don’t really know what to say to a 25 year old mum (and vice versa), as you were living in a different world at that age.

I know that we all have our own niggles in adjusting to motherhood, and that it can be a lonely place for everyone. I know that age and money shouldn’t really matter, and I feel a little silly for even feeling that it creates even a small difference. But I do wonder if I would have found more like-minded parent friends had I started this whole parenthood thing around seven years later than I did.

Would I have felt just a little less lost?

I already feel that I’d quite like a do-over. To start this new stage with a lot more confidence and enthusiasm.

Above all, I just want to find my place again. But I’m not sure that anyone ever does in that first year or two of being a mum.




  1. Apart from living in a different city, this is exactly how I feel. I don’t know if you would have been a little less lost if you had waited those extra years but I think the motherhood journey might have been a little less lonely if you know what I mean.

  2. Oh god. I’m going to relate so much to this, aren’t I?

    For what it’s worth, I thought you were so damn cool when we met up. And I don’t just envy your sprogs’ wardrobes – whenever you post a picture, I always wish that I had found those clothes first. 😉

    I lost a friend a few years ago, and one of the things that she said was that she wished that she could have had the same children ten years earlier, so that she could have had more time with them. That always resonated with me. I don’t know – something to think about. We’re lucky in that way.

  3. This is my life, I have two kids at 23 and it probably doesn’t help that I look about 12. I actually had someone ask me if they we’re both mine the other week because “i look to young to have two kids” !

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