Meerkats, when they have their first babies, are not alone in the world of the new mum. ALL of the adults in the tribe take an interest in the new offspring and regularly offer 'babysitting' services, helping raise the baby meerkat as a tribe.
I was reminded of this today, when, at playgroup this morning I wiped the snotty nose of a friend's youngster and glanced across the room, to see another friend helping to put on my toddler's smock for painting.
My friends, they're Meerkats. And I love them for it. It's not the only thing I love my friends for - the boozy girls nights out might be few and far between now, but we still manage a races day or two throughout the year. They're also incredibly funny and supportive in that laid back, when-you-need-me kind of way. They don't expect phone calls all the time, but in a crisis they materialise out of nowhere with lasange, breast pumps or whatever's needed at the time.
But the thing I MOST love them for, now we're all mums to kids ranging from 12 months - 4 years, is that when we're with each other, everybody's child is your child.
You can go off to the toilet, or get yourself a coffee, without even needing to alert them of your absence. They'll look after your kid as if it were their own. I never imagined I'd wipe some other mother's kid's snotty nose. But here I am, Lilly had a goober and her mum, my mate Rach was chatting with a friend. I was in range of the tissues and that child needed my help, stat. It was a no-brainer. And I know that kindness has, and will continue to be, repayed time and time and time again.
It takes a village to raise a child.... sometimes a Meer mum needs that.