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TVNZ's Melissa Stokes discovers the joys of being a school mum

She used to fear school mums - until she became one.

The internal monologue has been furious. Will I fit in or lurk awkwardly in my active gear?
(Note to self: Start trying to get into real clothes now my boys are no longer babies – there is no excuse.)
Before I knew them, I’d seen their type. They’re in grown-ups clothes, their kids’ socks match, and they’ve managed to get rid of the Vegemite from their child’s face before the school bell.
Of course I’ve read books like The Yummy Mummy so I was braced for this competitive parenting; talent identification in Year One – rep sports, spelling excellence, which reading group they’ll end up in.
Never mind my son’s first days at school. What about me? Will I fit in?
So here I am in a place I never thought I’d be – I’m a school mum. I know, I know, I can’t quite believe it myself. All those years of looking at the ‘real’ school mums with a sense of trepidation and I really thought I’d never be one of them. I didn’t need new friends, I’d tell myself.
I was quite happy with my old gang; my dearest, safe, stable ones from my own school years who already know all my quirks. No matter that we were spread out around the world these days – they are my people. I won’t need new ones, will I?
They tried, the wise women who have gone before me; they said it was the first opportunity to meet new, perhaps lifelong, friends since high school.
After all, these are the adults who will traverse the next 13 years with you as you worry about your child’s maths skills, ability to eat his lunch on time and how soon his sporting/acting/academic/debating/musical genius will be recognised.
I wasn’t buying it. And I can hear those of you with toddlers or without kids thinking “Yeah... nah. Not for me, thank you very much.”
How things have changed in just six months. This is what I’ve discovered:
My fellow school mums are kind. When I was told my precious wee five-year-old isn’t a ‘boy’s boy’ and likes to play with the girls (I know, cool kids so soon), they counselled me and picked me back up.
When I was worried the football coach hadn’t realised my child had yet to be given the all-important player of the day trophy, all it took was a quick word to another mum and boom – next week that trophy was ours! Sorry, his!
There’s no time for BS or one-upping each other, we’re all too busy trying to match socks and shoes at the end of the day. There’s also nothing like a shared eye roll over a child’s behaviour in the play-ground at pick-up.
In my darker moments I wonder if I am too much, that the smiles I’m greeted with when I bound in ready for a chat are actually frozen grimaces of, “Oh dear, here she is in her active wear again!” But I think that’s old high school worries rearing their head and really, who needs that?
I’ve made a conscious decision to not check my phone and always look open to some sort of interaction outside the classroom, and I notice almost everyone is the same. Hurrah!
My other friends are looking at me with slight fear as I tell them the Room Six mothers are having weekly barre classes, and that monthly drinks are in the diary… Cheers.
I still act a bit bewildered to those who are, as yet, uninitiated to the school mum way. I feel like it might be a hidden secret waiting for you to discover on your own. Heaven knows we’ve suffered through the sleepless nights, mastitis… I haven’t been to the toilet on my own for five years. Now our children are giving us something that, for me, was totally unexpected but hugely welcome – friendship.
Bring on the next 13 years.

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