Before I had kids, I used to judge on appearances. I didn’t like posh people or chavvy people. I didn’t like people much older than me or much younger than me. I felt I had nothing in common with them.
But it didn’t take me long to realise that having children is a great leveller. Because, rich or poor, old or young, we all have to deal with the same things. We all have sleepless nights, we all have to wean and potty train, we all worry when our children are poorly and, as they get a bit older, we want them to do well at school, we worry about getting them into the right secondary school and pray that they aren’t being bullied.
We do this because we are good parents. And good parents can be teenage mums or 40-something mums. They come from council estates and country estates.
When a baby is born, he doesn’t know if he is posh or poor. He doesn’t know if ‘babies like him’ should eat their organic vegetables and learn to talk at nine months, not only eat from jars and end up seeing a speech therapist. Because babies at birth are all the same and, deep down, so are their mums. Victoria Beckham might have riches beyond our wildest dreams, she might be married to one of the most attractive men in the world, but her baby daughter still throws up all over her. Babies and baby sick don’t know the difference between Gucci and Primark.
Now I have friends who are 10 years older than me and 10 years younger than me. I have friends who are posh and friends who I would have considered chavvy back in the day. I know I like to poke gentle fun at posh people (specifically yummy mummies) and chavs, but I know that, whatever they look like, whatever job they do, they are good people and good parents.
I might be generalising here (but when has that ever bothered me?), but I think people without children are much quicker to judge others and find it harder to empathise with people who aren’t like themselves.
Now I realise that I have more in common with a 27 year old with three children than I do with a fellow 38 year old with no children (apart from a retro comedy shared memory of 80s films and music and bad perms). All that money! All that time! All those ski trips! I can’t see myself ever relating to that.
Ladies and gentlemen, I give you children – the great leveller.