Monday, 23 February 2015

Social secretary

Since moving back to the UK almost (gulp) 18 months ago now, my social calendar has taken something of a dive.

I've seen old friends, of course -- although many of the friends who have kids (nearly everyone) have moved out of London in the past few years. And what with working five days a week and then dealing with sons who have increasing amounts of homework, "playdate" type stuff has had to be restricted to half terms and holidays.

I tried quite hard with the school gate mums the first year back, but it seemed to be quite difficult to penetrate the layers of existing friendships between women who had got to know each other when their children were young, and who didn't particularly want a new mate to chat to on the school run. And I definitely missed the close community that I experienced in the US, where -- knowing no-one -- I'd made a huge effort to get to make friends. Although I'm not a huge party animal (I'm quite happy to sit at home watching Gogglebox on a Friday night),  I am someone that needs people, and a chance to put on a nice outfit and go out occasionally.

Which is why this year I plunged in at the deep end when it came to school stuff, signing up as class rep (something I said I would never, ever do). I've never been the social secretary type - I'm quite happy to volunteer for things and help out, but usually on the sidelines and not running the committee. Organizing events tends to fill me with horror - not because I'm disorganized, but I can't just chill out about things not coming together, which I presume is a prerequisite for being a cool-headed events person.

But I have to say, it's been a surprisingly good move. I've palled up with a very nice fellow mum who's doing it with me (and is also new to the school, and back in London after a spell living abroad). I've got to know all the parents in the class, via various occasions, and even felt confident enough to suggest starting a book club - something I've missed every since we left America. There was an enthusiastic take-up, and our first meeting is next week.  There's also a quiz night coming up and a summer party, both of which I'm sorting out tables for.

I'm sure The Doctor thinks there are an unnecessary number of school engagements in the calendar. But what I think he (and most husbands) doesn't realise is that, if you're at home all day -- even working from home -- you do need some social interaction other than talking to your children about their day and nagging them to do their homework. I look forward to my two or three work meetings a week, but, unless it's someone I've known for years, I'm always on guard and in "totally professional" mode. (Although occasionally, if I find a work contact is pregnant and/or has children, I have a tendency to gabble about various aspects of motherhood. Embarrassing).

So I think my role as social secretary will hopefully pay off -- it's either that or join the local Amdram club......

11 comments:

Expat mum said...

Good for you. I spent a few days in Houston last week and attended an International meeting. It has made me decide to get back into the expat thing. I don't meet too many new people these days. spend far too much time on my own and I love meeting foreigners. So there you go. I'm trying to be more sociable too!

DD's Diary said...

Well done you! It's v daunting coming back to the UK and even after 9 years I still feel I am a bit on the back foot with the mums who never left .... having said that my book club is a joy so I'm really glad you've set one up. Others who've spent time away are usually very open too. And there is actually a fantastic Amdram theatre down in West Norwood!!

Kit said...

Brave of you to sign up for class rep, but a good way to get through the difficulty of getting to know other mums.
It has taken us ages to make friends among parents at our school - mostly because our son only joined in high school and most parents already knew each other from way back. We're gradually extending the number of parents we know now the girls are also there and making their own friends, but I've never got brave enough to volunteer for class rep!

Iota said...

Well done! I know what you mean about gabbling about motherhood. It's almost like "I've got the qualification, and I'm jolly well going to use it!" I have to really stop myself giving free unwanted advice to people with babies or children younger than mine (and I so HATED it when people did that to me, so it's not too hard to remember to desist!)

Iota said...

I always make an effort with new mums, partly because having moved quite a bit, I know what it's like and I feel for them, but partly because they tend to be more open to making friends, and it's nice to make new friends!

Helen McGinn said...

Go you! I think that's brilliant. And so want to know how your book club evening goes - and what book! Make sure there's wine x

nappy valley girl said...

Toni - go for it! It's great to meet foreigners, really expands your horizons.

DD - ha! I was actually living in West Norwood last year. I never knew about that. I probably would have joined...

Kit - you should! It honestly isn't as bad as it sounds....and everyone is so grateful too as then they don't have to do it, so there is lots of goodwill.

Iota - me too. I have made quite a few friends by befriending newbies.

Helen - Oh, there will definitely be wine. Book is Us by David Nicholls.

Was Living Down Under said...

Good for you! Though we've been back a little longer than you have, this was the first year I could properly participate in the school parent council (my partner was travelling for work so I could never make any meetings).

We were out recently with my cousin and her husband and I talked about making new friends and they both said they didn't really ever make new friends. I guess living as an expat you're forced out of a "comfort zone" when it comes to making friends. And even though you move back home, you're still somewhat of an "outsider" and therefore have to keep doing it?

All the best with your book club - sounds fun :)

Clare Taylor said...

You've put your finger right on the thing I'm most nervous about when it comes to moving back - thanks for the pointers. I managed to get away with NOT doing the class rep thing for the last 5 years but I suspect that, like you, I need to bite the bullet and just do it when we get back to blighty...

Muddling Along said...

I think the biggest shock for Mr M being at home is the isolation and how if you aren't going to socialise via school / children then it is blumming hard to carve out a social life

Mwa said...

Oh my word it is the hardest thing! I feel for you. It's why we haven't moved in ten years now. I just can't handle the hassle of settling in again.
(Hi, I'm back. Sorry to have been gone for so many years.)