updated 17 Mar 2011, 12:27
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Mon, Mar 14, 2011
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Every mum needs Single Gal Pals
by Clara Chow

SOMETIMES, I feel like I'm living my life backwards.

As a kid, I was always a bit too much of a spoilt brat to fit in properly with the culture of my strait-laced, over-achieving convent school.

Close female friendships eluded me. Who wanted to be friends with the Naughty Girl who kept disrupting classes and breaking school rules?

Then, the teenage years happened, and it was all about dating and boyfriends for the next, oh, 15 years.

So, it was only after I got married and became a mother that I began to seriously appreciate having wonderful single girl friends.

Don't get me wrong: I had my share of Sex And The City bonding moments as a searching-for-something 20-something. I also get along swimmingly with my married female friends now.

But there's just a certain pleasure in having single BFFs (Best Friends Forever).

Who else would drop everything at the, um, drop of a hat to go watch a terrible Andy Lau romantic comedy with me in the name of academic research?

Even the Supportive Spouse begged for time off, citing reasonably that he needed to stay home with the kids.

Who else would have four-hour-long champagne dinners with me on a weeknight, making up five-year to-do lists with items like "Must meet someone inoffensive" and "Get married, but don't try too hard"?

Much as I love my mummy friends, the effort to coordinate two families' schedules and wrangle two sets of kids sometimes exhaust us even before we step out of the house, much less actually meet face to face.

The joys of having single gal pals, however, go beyond the fact that they are fun and available.

These friends are also more likely to put things in perspective for me.

On days when it feels as though the daily grind and multi- tasking nightmare of parenthood, part-time work and studies are about to make my head explode, it takes only a wry glance from a single girlfriend to stop me from going into hysterics.

"I'm not a mother, so I don't know," my ever-pragmatic friend would say with a small shrug, as I end my self-absorbed rant about motherhood woes.

Bo-ring. Move on? Uh huh.

It's refreshing, really. Fellow mums may cluck on and on, and reassure me kindly when I get into soul-searching mode ("Are my kids going to turn out all right? Am I neglecting them?").

Single girlfriends simply remind me, without so much as a wasted gesture, to get over it and get on with it.

And while my mummy friends can hold their own in any intellectual debate, they have less time - it cannot be denied - to mull over the odder intricacies of life.

I've been there, so I know what it's like having to deal with a screaming kid when you're sleep-deprived, so I would never ever force a mum-friend to listen to me expound on and on about my crackpot literary theories, film interpretations, knotty gender studies or psychoanalytical problems.

The Single Gal Pal (SGP), however, is my favourite lightning rod. Whenever I am stumped on a topic, I bounce ideas off them, and they never fail to impress me with their wealth of insights and grasp of current issues.

When you don't have to wipe noses and do school runs, you have more time to keep abreast of pop culture.

I highly recommend every mother to cultivate her own SGP posse, pronto. They are a mother's antidote for insanity, a panacea for parenthood.

Here's something else my SGPs do: They read my columns and blog, and monitor my Facebook status updates to make sure I'm not cracking up.

Should they spot any signs that I am, they call the cops on me.

Or they just take me out to lunch.

Thanks, babes.


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