MIA: "I’ve been THAT mother. Every mother has...."

The moment you have kids, a space opens up between you and your child-free friends. Sometimes it’s a small gap, sometimes it’s a gaping gulf. And with every subsequent child, it widens.

Here is a video that brilliantly explains the gap in the very funny form of an apology from Popular YouTube mum, Elle Walker, to her childless friends:

My favourite part is when Elle finally catches up with her friend but spends the whole time distracted.

“I need to multi-task you,” she explains to her friend. “It’s not your fault, but you didn’t bring a kid to entertain [my toddler]. So, I have to go halfsies on this conversation or else she’ll melt down in front of you. I’m completely stressed but don’t worry, I’m listening. Wait, no. I’m actually thinking about how much free time you have…”

Squinting at her friend through a sleep-deprived haze, she then blows her own mind by thinking of all the spontaneous possibilities that are possible to a person who isn’t responsible for a small child or two.

I’ve been that mother. Every mother has. None of my friends had kids when I had my first at 25. I was on a different page and in a wildly different life stage for the next few years.

But here’s what nobody tells you: as soon as your kids start school, the gap starts shrinking and another gap emerges between mothers of older kids and mothers with babies and toddlers.

Three of my very good friends are currently on maternity leave for the third time. They each have three kids under five. Even though I too have three kids, we are worlds apart. Their days are a mystery to me and mine are to them.

And this is why.

Mia Freedman.

My kids sleep through the night. They can feed and dress themselves. Fetch their own snacks and drinks. Go to the toilet unassisted. Work the iPad. Be bribed. Be reasoned with. Use the remote control. Understand concepts like “Mummy is going out for a few hours but that doesn’t mean your life will end or that you’ll never see her again. You will be asleep for most of it so whatevs. Have fun with the babysitter or your dad and mummy will see you in the morning.”

Nappies and wipes and that terrible angst when you know your baby is sick but they can’t tell you where it hurts or what happened at kindy today and potty training and dummies and broken sleep and baby capsules and naps… that’s all behind me. My life – and the lives of all my friends with older kids – is different now.

On New Year’s Day, I sent a Facebook message to all my friends with babies and toddlers. I called it “A Reassuring Message From Your Future. Last night we had dinner with friends. All the kids amused themselves and stayed up until midnight. This morning we all slept in until 10am and now we’re peacefully drinking tea while the kids play on the beach. For every one of you doing it tough with teething and toilet training and sleep deprivation, life will get easier, I promise.”

Of course I don’t want it to sound like having small children is awful and having older children is somehow better. There are pros and cons for each (THE SMELL OF A NEWBORN, OH LORD THE SMELL). I miss so many thing about the baby and toddler stage. I’m just saying that once you’re past that stage, you sort of forget what it’s like. And catching up with a girlfriend over a cup of tea once again becomes something less complex than staging a peaceful Housewives Of Melbourne reunion.