When I’m on my own in the evenings it’s pretty easy to feel isolated. I could get someone to come round but I’m always pretty shattered. By the time the children are asleep and the jobs are done I just want to collapse. I don’t really want a conversation – especially on the phone. It’s easy to get down and feel lonely.
To me, a friend is someone you can rely on, who you can ring at the last moment and if you really need them they will drop anything to help. You might not see them very often, maybe not even once a year. They can be on a different continent – but you know you still have a connection. My university friends have moved all over the world and it means we can only meet every year at best and even then it has been years since we were all in the same country at once (well I didn’t have far to go to meet up having moved only about 50 miles from University). I might not ring but I still think about them.
A friend also takes an interest in your life and asks how you are even when they are busy and stressed. One friend lives close by and her daughter went to the same school as mine. Even when she were going through a heartbreakingly difficult time with her son she would ask me how I was and would offer to help with the twins when they had chicken pox. Little things like that make all the difference.
This week my friends have given me lots of reasons to be cheerful.
1) For me a true friend is someone who you instantly feel comfortable with no matter how long you’ve been apart. You might not see them for two years but it feels like you are in the middle of the same conversation. A lovely friend came to visit me this weekend. It was perfect because hubby was on a late and then an early so she kept me company and the extra pair of hands, who I can trust, is great with the children.
I worked with her about 8 years ago and then she moved back to Liverpool. We haven’t seen each other in about two years and our lives have changed so much since then – yet I might have seen her yesterday. I know she wouldn’t judge the fact my house was a bit of a mess, and I hadn’t cooked her dinner but got a take away pizza. I could be honest about how difficult life can be sometimes. The best thing was my girls loved her too – children can be such a good judge of character!
2) My daughter sometimes asks who my best friend is. I always tell her Daddy which is true of course – he’s my soul mate and is the only person bar my mum I want to tell EVERYTHING to. But this is about female friendship and there is one person who still holds that best friend position in my mind. Next week I’m going to visit my parents for a whole week and hopefully we will get to do all the things we have planned but never had time to fit in when I go down south for a weekend. Old friends are great. They know everything about you, so you don’t have to tell them, they knew you through your goth phase (too much black eyeliner), know all your secrets (not sure if that’s a good thing, but ha I know their secrets too), put up with the stupid things you did and said when you were younger (hiding behind a tree is something I still feel bad about – sorry).
We have that shared history of having grown up together. We even have a shared soundtrack having boogied to Dancing queen when we really were only seventeen! Old friends can grow apart because you’re lives alter – but I’m lucky that my friend and I have gone down similar paths, the same career choice – children at the same time, we still have lots in common. She has always included me in the exciting things in her life (my daughter can’t wait to go on a boat! Please please, let it be sunny when we are down) and I have always felt part of her family. Some friendships are like going home.
3) I always thought once you reached a certain age you wouldn’t make any new friends. Or you wouldn’t make such strong friendships as in your youth. It’s easy when you’re younger – you’re at the same school or uni – you’re thrown together. I’ve learned recently that isn’t true. When you have children you suddenly meet lots of new people, at the school gates, at baby and toddler groups and at the children’s clubs. It’s a funny time to make friends really because you can have been talking to someone for a whole year and you don’t know their name only that they’re little Janey’s mummy.
I’ve made some great friends through the children. I go out once a month or so with one group from my daughter’s postnatal group. Our children are the same age, but the good thing is when we go out we rarely talk about the children! We may not always agree, but there is something reassuring being part of a group. I’m not good at asking for help but I know these lovely ladies will always be there if I need them.
The school gates can be a notoriously difficult place to make friends. Mums can get very competitive. I’ve been very lucky and met a few wonderful people who share the trials of being a parent as well as the triumphs. Who care about me and my children and help with the twins when I don’t have enough hands – which is most of the time. I was so disappointed when my daughter was not put in the same class next year as the daughter of my closest yummy mummy friend. I had been priming her to say the little girl’s name as her best friend if she was asked, but perhaps they are only allowed one, beautiful, bossy, blondie girl in each class – is there a quota? I just hope our children will stay friends, kids can be so capricious. If not our younger girls are nearly the same age – I’m sure it will work out!