A Letter To: My NCT Group

NCT1

Dear Bought Friends,

Two and a half years ago I waddled into a south London church hall, nervously waiting to meet you all.

I’d lived in the area for seven years but had never really made any local friends because of my long work hours and I was really hoping we’d get along so that we could keep each other company during maternity leave. I’d even splashed out on the poshest biscuits from the Co-Op in an attempt to woo you all with my baked goods (I believe I was outdone by one of you who’d actually baked their own).

I knew as soon as we were all talking about our favourite local pubs before the first session had ended that we’d probably be OK, but little did I know at that point just how much the seven of us, who’d been living around the corner from each other the whole time, would click.

Once our babies were born, and the intense newborn fog had lifted, the seven of us saw each other three or four times a week on average, sometimes even more, in various permutations.

Baby classes turned into lunches, lunches turned into long afternoons in the pub and hastily-arranged picnics turned into epic cheese feasts. And as the months progressed our friendships became about more than just babies and parenting.

We went through loads together over that first year while we were all still off work. There was so much laughter, but also many tears. Not one of us had had a “straightforward” birth without some kind of intervention and we helped each other through the physical and mental pain. Sleepless nights were made bearable by Whatsapp banter about boobs, bottles and the Great British Menu and the amount of coffee we collectively consumed could probably have filled a larger than average lake. A few of us even embarked on a mini business venture selling baby hats, and having an absolute blast doing so.

Just over two years have passed since our babies entered the world and they are now fully-fledged children; their individual personalities already clear as day. You are all such wonderful mums and your thriving children are testament to the way you all nurture and love them.

But you are all so much more to me than my “mum friends”. You are all strong, funny and fiercely intelligent women who also happen to have exquisite taste in pubs.

In the next few weeks, this friendly corner of London that I’ve called home for the best part of a decade will no longer be my stomping ground as our little family prepares to move to pastures new.

My focus ahead of the move has been on what it will mean for my two-year-old son, and how he’ll adapt to his new home, new nursery and new friends. Indeed, when I originally embarked on writing this letter about moving house, it was originally to him. But now I realise that it’s going to be way more of a wrench for me than it will be for him. And it’s going to be a wrench because of you guys.

Thinking about the next chapter of our lives has made me appreciate all the more just how lucky I’ve been to get to know you all. We jokingly refer to each other as “bought friends” but, for me, this ready-made local support network of amazing women, and your lovely partners, has been life-changing and undoubtedly the best money I’ve ever spent. I know this is just the beginning of our lifelong friendships.

Loads of love,

Hayley 🍆

This blog is part of our ‘A Letter To’ series.

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Hayley is mum to Elliott and recently tore herself away from her happy London bubble for new adventures nearer family in Surrey. Hayley started blogging at mumroll.com shortly after the birth of her son in 2015 and also works as a part-time copywriter for an education charity. When she's not writing and mumming, Hayley enjoys sitting down, naps, watching telly, listening to podcasts and other quiet, still activities which are totally incompatible with being a parent to a tearaway toddler. She used to play the drums but that was mainly so she could sit down at the back. Hayley is also the accidental founder of the 'Families Against Reckless Trump (FART)' protest movement. Follow her at Twitter @hayjane / @mumroll, Facebook: @mumrollUK, Instagram @hayjane and online at www.mumroll.com.