Miscommunication and Mum Friends

Yesterday morning, after a trip with the kids to the GP (me: “please don’t touch anything, guys”, Sonny: “I just touched the bin, is that OK?”) and en route to nab a coffee (me) and a chocolate croissant to share (them), I found myself wheeling the buggy alongside another mum who like me, was trailing 3 young boys in her midst. And when I say trailing, I mean that thing when a parent has no hands free to hold on to anyone and the kids are half walking, suddenly stopping, then running ahead, then running behind and all you can really focus on is keeping everyone alive.

We were on a fairly busy, wide high street pavement and were just close enough to catch each others’ eye. You see, I always enjoy meeting and chatting to other mums but I *especially* enjoy meeting other mums of 3 boys. I glanced over at her, threw a big wide smile and asked in a loud and cheerful tone,

“They all yours?”

Her response came quickly, eyes widening,

“GOD NO, can you imagine?! Two are mine, one is my son’s friend.”

Before she could say any more, I interrupted her to share that the three shaggy haired boys around me were indeed all mine so errm yes, I could imagine.

“Oh, oh, ah lovely! What’s that like?”, she asked, tentatively and a little embarrassed

“It’s fun, it’s a lot of fun”, I replied, ushering my three little boy loves that bit closer.

We parted ways, and I couldn’t help but feel a little sensitive about her comment I felt had been directed at my little male brood.

Photo: Lex Sirikiat

15 minutes passed and whilst slurping on some hot coffee in the sunshine and enjoying watching the kids negotiate a very serious chocolate croissant division, the lady and her boys (which I was clear now were *not* all her own) appeared, and asked if she could share the bench whilst she grabbed herself a coffee. Of course I said yes, and we soon launched in to the standard ‘meet a new local mum’ chat (names, ages, schools, favourite hangs). Once we’d established everyones’ credentials, out of nowhere the mum shared with me that her and her husband were cautiously thinking of trying for a third baby.

“Ah, but you’re worried it will be another boy, right?” I said, half smiling, half wincing.

“NO, not at all! I’d actually like it to be another boy, that way I’d feel like I know what I’m doing!”, she replied quickly.

By now I felt a bit confused.

“It’s just from what you said earlier, I thought, you know…” I mumbled.

“Ohh no. I only said that because you had three and that must be full on, that was all.”

I breathed in a little deeper and paused to bask in the beauty of full, open and honest communication to eek out the complexity that can sometimes belie words.

“Ahhhh, got you,” I exhaled.

And so we launched in to a deep if not fleeting reflection together – and all on our own, too I suppose – on children and families and sleepless nights and bigger cars, and all that jazz.

I breathed in a little deeper and paused to bask in the beauty of full, open and honest communication to eek out the complexity that can sometimes belie words

I had totally misinterpreted her earlier comment and had created a disconnect when there was none there to begin with – I was just grateful for the opportunity to connect honestly and meaningfully that arose later that morning. Just hoping I bump in to her again soon!

Ever had anything similar happen to you? It feels SO good to have honest communication, especially with other mamas.

Emma xx

P.S A New Corona Calm Playlist

16 Comments

  1. Jan
    September 15, 2020 / 9:58 am

    Love this post soooo much! Thanks for sharing your insights. I am a mum of two boys and am on the spectrum, trying to navigate the quick fire mum and dad chat at drop offs and pick ups. My autism, means I am flying blind in interactions and all the subtle messages that are clear as day to a neurotypical, are not clear to me. I often feel out of my depth, or I have placed the wrong word at the wrong time in the wrong way and its very encouraging to know that others find this tricky too. I have also noticed that the heightened sensitivity and hyper vigilance that comes with mothering ( those hormones!!) not to mention the sleep depravation are not the best mix for perfection when it comes to interactions, so I need to remind myself a lot to go easy on myself and others too!

  2. Hannah
    August 25, 2020 / 2:26 pm

    I recently ‘God No’d when someone asked if my friends child and mine were twins but that was because I personally find I’m only just coping with my 5 and 2 year old and wasn’t at all about anyone else’s decision to have 3 babies. Part of me would love a third child but I don’t find that parenting comes very naturally to me ( I love them to pieces but have not a clue what I’m doing ever, hence reading parenting blogs 😂) Xx

  3. Michelle
    August 25, 2020 / 2:09 am

    I’ve actually been the person to say “ oh god no” when someone ask me if all 3 boys are mine(two are my nephews) but it’s not because I think it’s a bad thing. I can’t have anymore kids so i make it sound like one is all I want, I’ve received so many people saying “oh you can’t just have one” or “it’s selfish just to have one kid”or “when’s baby two coming”. It’s hard on my emotions so instead of telling people that I lost 3 babies before I had my son and could of died giving birth to him, I just start it out that way a lot. I never thought about how it could make someone else feel, I’m so glad you posted about this. It definitely makes me think twice about the way I phrase things❤️

    • Emma Ross
      Author
      August 25, 2020 / 8:05 am

      and i m so glad you posted your story too.. its so important to know how our words came across – though i also try to believe the best in people and when they do ask, to give them the benefit of the doubt that their qq is not from an unkind place. not always easy i know…xx

  4. Clare
    August 22, 2020 / 8:59 pm

    Pretty much on a daily basis on the school run I deal with the comment that I don’t know what it is like because I only have one child. I’ve been on my own since loosing my daughter when her heart stopped beating before she was born. The comments cut because my daughter died, they cut because I do it all completely alone and my son has not had other children to play with in lockdown. Last year my son was told by another mum to get off the seasaw he was sharing with her daughter because the sibling wanted a go. This woman made him cry because he made the effort to make a friend and was shunned. Many of my friends who have the deep sadness of having no children or those who choose not to have children get critacised daily for that. There is often pain and greif in people who don’t have the 2.4 family and I reserve my right to avoid those people who put down my very existence and experience as a single mum of one child. The question of, do you have any other children is pretty harsh for someone with my experience and leaves me at a loss- do I mention my dead daughter to a stranger when put on the spot? I no longer get involved in conversations with people who do that. I have the right to protect myself in my greif.

    • Emma Ross
      Author
      August 25, 2020 / 8:00 am

      hi clare, im so deeply sorry for your loss and how strong a woman and mother you are. absolutely – you must must protect yourself for your sake – and for your son’s sake. he is a lucky little boy. so much love xxx

  5. Victoria
    August 20, 2020 / 11:41 pm

    And what one person is able to ‘cope’ with may not be within another’s grasp. For whatever reason. Its natural to judge people (even if its something we are working on not doing), and yes im also sensitive about comments. As someone dealing with infertility I would love to be a mum of 3, but as I find being a mum of just one boy, who is a really delightful child (most of the time! 🤣), I question how I’d cope with more than one anyway and wonder whether maybe life has given me what I am able to manage. I struggle with my mental health and probable undiagnosed autism, and my communication is not always good-I worry all the time ive offended people (I know I do but I don’t mean to), because I know things come out wrong or the tone is wrong or I just dont know what to say. But its still my dream for another baby despite all this. I’m in awe of mums with multiple children and wonder how they do it all!

    • Emma Ross
      Author
      August 25, 2020 / 8:01 am

      hey victoria – thanks for this – you sound just the sweetest. i loveeee your philosophy about wondering whether life gives us what we can manage. im sending you lots of love on your journey, wherever it leads. xxx

  6. Jenn
    August 20, 2020 / 2:50 pm

    We moved house and town nearly a year ago and I’m trying so hard to make new friends for me and my three kiddos but man it’s hard. And I hear you big time about the miscommunication…I feel like I always say the wrong thing to new people and then feel stressed about it afterward. People love to comment to me when I’m out and about with my three…”you’ve got your hands full” to which I try to reply, “yes I do. Isn’t it wonderful?”

    • Emma Ross
      Author
      August 20, 2020 / 8:28 pm

      i feel like a big, broad smile can go a long, long way with so much of what you say. and i hear you on it all, too by the way! thanks for reading jenn x

  7. Astrid
    August 20, 2020 / 12:32 pm

    You might enjoy Malcolm Gladwell’s ‘Talking to Strangers’ across this theme of miscommunication and the fallout it can have/drastically and historically, has had.

    • Emma Ross
      Author
      August 20, 2020 / 8:29 pm

      oooh off to take a look – thanks astrid. x

  8. Poppy
    August 20, 2020 / 11:27 am

    What a wonderful interaction! I haven’t really done the whole accidentally meeting mums out and about yet. Is that maybe something which comes when they are a bit older? My boy is just 1 (we are trying for our second and I hope to have a third one day)

    • Emma Ross
      Author
      August 25, 2020 / 8:02 am

      hey poppy – maybe yep, once kids can interact with each other but perhaps next time you see another mama out, throw her a smile and see what happens! thanks so much for reading xo

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