Having children kind of cuts the landscape of your life in two. You are very much BC (Before Children) and AD (After Desecration of you lady garden) The changes are dramatic, including the shape and depths of your friendships. You have so little time to yourself, that you spend it thriftily. You become the scrooge of spare time, hoarding every available unallocated moment for yourself, just so you can treat yourself to a cup of tea without having to discuss why your “girlie bits are furry” with anyone. You start to feel differently about some relationships. You form new friendships, bonding with other mothers over a wotsit based tantrum on the school run, or an explosive poo in soft play.
I strongly believe that some friendships are transient. We should not feel held to remain friends with someone just because we worked with them 20 years ago in Woolworths and have a shared memory of looking shit in a polyester tabard. Some friendships reach their natural conclusion without a bang and a crash, they just gradually move into the background. Sometimes people come into our lives for only a short time but totally alter our way of thinking. All of these relationships are valid, and accepting that friendships come is all shapes and sizes has made me feel much happier. However, some people are like the cement holding together the foundations of your existence. You are utterly confident that they will always be in your life.
Some of your longstanding friendships fall by the wayside. You only know what people are up to via facebook. You haven’t actually spoken to them in months. By the time you have argued with your 4 year old about wiping her own arse, and your 2 year old has thrown the bathroom scales in the water-filled bath, all you want to do is go to bed. Obviously you don’t. You have to pick dried on cheerios off your dining room floor with a butter-knife first. You have 6 loads of washing to process and you need to feed your husband. So really this leaves you with very little time to actually pick up the phone and speak to someone you love. I realised the other day that I have probably said more to the man at Tesco Express this month, than I have to my best friends.
But actually that’s fine. I am lucky enough that my closest friends forgive all and can just begin where we left off.
Now clearly you should never categorise your friends. They do not fit nicely in beautiful little boxes, but I’m shoehorning them into some anyway! Since having kids, your friends might look a little bit like this…… (this is an inconclusive list, I have all manner of wonderous friends who fit into more than one of these categories, or none at all!)
Your School/University friends.
You’ve been mates for 20 years. They know too much. Having kids will bring you closer to some and may make you drift from others. They enrich you life. Sometimes they get on your tits. Sometimes you get on theirs. But you can tell each other all about it, and no one really takes offence. It doesn’t matter because you love them like you love your family. You meet up with some in a group every few months and its so raucous people move tables in the pub to avoid you. You can ring them in tears at 2am. They will lovingly call you a knob and say just the right thing to sort you out.
The friends without kids who get it.
They don’t mind that your main communication is text. They think of fun things to do to fit round the kids. They understand that its probably easier if they just come to you. They turn up with wine, Irish dance with the children until they fall over. They play Olympic standard Hide and Seek while you make the dinner. Your exhausted children go to bed claiming to be a little bit in love with them. You get shitfaced with your lovely friends, discuss the virtues of toffifee, and fall asleep in a baked camembert at 10pm. They don’t mind.
Your NCT/post natal group friends.
They cried with you, when you spilled the breast milk you had spend 45 minutes expressing. You text each other at 4am practically every day for 4 months in an attempt to retain some of your sanity. You played top trumps with the various stains on your clothing. They kept you alive when you had only managed 4 hours sleep in 3 days.You know what their favourite biscuit is as you collectively survived on nothing else for months. As the kids start school, you might start to drift apart and move in different directions to some of these friends. That’s ok because everyone is starting to find…
The School Mum friends.
You will have many school gate acquaintances. People you suspect you might like but you don’t yet know very well. Some people that you never really get beyond hello with. Some, that you desperately hope that your kids don’t bond with their kids because you just know a playdate would be awkward. But there will also be proper friends. Friends who text you to remind you about mufti day because they know you’ll forget. Friends who you know you need to get drunk with, if only you could extricate yourself from the grip of the toddler…….