Mums at the school gate….hmm there’s a food for thought. What is the first thing that comes to mind? Friendly? Rude? Anxious? Nervous? Or clique? I think everyone is different, every child is different and every single parent is different. Ever since I’ve been doing the ‘pre-school run’ I have tried not to notice the slight cliqueness. Mainly because I am a pre-school mum and the school mums wait at the same gate. Last year I hadn’t even noticed it at all because I got on well with the other forest school mums, both mums to girls who played lovely with William. He still talks about them now with fond (not so distant) memories because they’re both now at primary school.
I should be prepared for it really, I mean I’ve had enough time of preparation for this over the years. The fist time I remember the ‘school gate mums’ phrase was when I accompanied my sister in law to collect my niece and nephew from primary school, I remember SIL smiling and being friendly with other mums and I just smiled along but I also remember the side glances they gave me. She introduced me as her sister in law and it was like an acceptance so they could talk to me. My sister in law had actually apologised for them when we got back to their home saying that they’re a bit funny with some mums and hadn’t recognised me as fellow school mum.
She told me she had felt two faced in a way because that was ‘the way’ she acted at the school gates, she had acted differently and I hadn’t actually noticed, but she was just being like this to ‘fit in’.
Forward a few years to when a best friend became a school mum, she got on really well with her mum friends. They were all a similar age, so she had more in common with them and they all lived quite locally (AND good social ‘public houses’ establishments in the area…wink wink nudge nudge!). They actually spent a lot of social time with these other families, which was inevitable because they were all spending a lot of time together. I sometimes would go with her to pick up the children, and chatted to these other mums and they were friendly enough. It was nice to be able to talk to them, seeing the other part of her’ life. Admittedly I used to get a bit jealous that she was going out with the mums and not me, but I do now realised the jealousy was more about not having a family of my own.
I do remember her saying about a year after she had her youngest she was picking up her eldest and the other mums would ask her about going back to work, I don’t think she had the confidence to go back to work and to be fair she didn’t actually need to and her husband wasn’t bothered if she was a stay at home mum. She felt the pressure from the other mums, which was quite sad really. I told her they were probably just jealous and to just make a joke and say ‘I don’t need to go back to work’ her husband had said ‘just ignore them’ but she couldn’t and she didn’t. Nowadays she works for a large retailer and is one of the longest serving members of staff there and is the hardest working so much so that they want her to become a manager, but it’s not what she wants to do and to be honest I don’t blame her. BUT funny how things change?
I remember my other best friend (yes I have more than one best friend, I’m so blessed!) joked about mums having short hair cuts and big cars, I think she had said, ‘don’t worry I’m not going to go out and get a bob hair cut now that I’m a mum’. She did get the ‘mum’ car, BUT I’ve done the same and she does like her cars. She is not a typical school mum though, she’s way too mature and sensible than that. Well when she’s sober (I’m going to get a telling off for THAT remark!)
So nowadays I’m trying sooo hard not to get too concerned that I’m not in with the ‘mums’, to start with I’m in my mid 40s and I’m sure a lot of them are at least 10 years younger than me. So not only am I older, I feel like I’m in between some of the school mums (still remembering that I’m still a pre-school mum). Because of social distancing everyone has to wait at the school gates (I have to walk through the school grounds to get to Williams forest school) and I am surrounded by the mums in leggings and hair tied up with no make up, (I’m in awe of these mums.) They either have confidence or don’t give a shit about what other people think, I have to do something with my face and wear something presentable before I leave the house because that gives me the confidence to go out. Although the mask helps with that at the moment, hiding any self confidence I have in the bottom half of my face.
I’ve seen one particular mum who wears at least 4 inch stiletto heels, skirts, suits and I still can’t work out if she dresses up for her job or because she likes to make an effort in her appearance all the time. I saw her out running one morning and she was in full make up then (so maybe she’s really into making an effort), I don’t have the time to put hand cream on let alone a full face of make up some days! I think some women have their priorities different, but we all have these lives given to us and we should be able to live them how we desire.
I have to admit though these last two weeks I’ve let it get the better of me, mainly because William hasn’t been to forest school since December. But since three weeks of Mike having the vaccine we decided he could go back (he was climbing the walls), and it really has been a really life changer and we are all sooo much happier (I think I am actually skipping sometimes when I walk!). The only thing I’ve found though is because we’ve not seen any of the mums when I did go back I felt so out of the loop, it was like one of those moments when you walk in a room and everyone looks at you.
It’s horrible, I felt like an outsider all over again and all I want to do is have a normal conversation with another mum. I hate standing looking at my phone not knowing what to say to the mum next to me, although wearing masks doesn’t help but I am normally quite sociable and I don’t like to be seen as the mum who’s constantly looking at her phone. Today, I made a subconscious effort and strike up a conversation with another mum. I’ve seen her and she looked an approachable looking mum, and it was lovely talking to her and it’s reinstated in my mind that it’s how I am feeling and the anxiety behind William being back at preschool more than worrying about the mum groups in the area.
I think there is a cliqueness with mums at the school gates, and has been historically for a long time at all schools. But you just gotta deal with it in a way that suits, if you get on with them great. If not, you could be like my ex-sister in law or better still just be polite and friendly but not get too involved. I’m putting William as my priority, I shall let him decide who he wants to be friends with and it’s a bonus if we also get on with the parents. I have built close friendships that I’ve had for a number of years (including a couple of fellow ‘boy mums’ that aren’t local), they’ll be the ones I like to think we will still socialise with but we’ll always have room for more friends! The more the merrier right??
Anyway until this social distancing thing eases and everyone is vaccinated we won’t be doing any socialising!