Friendships. It is said that you can’t choose your family but you can choose your friends, which is often why it feels like your friends become your family. Even more so when you are an expat. But what of the friendships that were once so strong you couldn’t imagine them not in your life, but have now slowly dwindled to nothing. Has becoming a mother changed my friendships?
I’m not talking of the friendships that you made in primary school, where you swore you would be BFFs forever and ever, until they didn’t want to share their snack with you at lunchtime when it became all out war. Or the fledging friendships through school where so often geography and a different life path as you became an adult just got in the way. I’m not talking about the relationships formed when you become a mother, the ones that have a solid basis on talking about the challenges you face and baby poo. Getting through those early days when you’re all muddling along. Offering support and coffee (and wine). I’m not talking about expat friendships, where you band together because you all live away from home.
I’m talking about those relationships formed at some point in your adult life, on a solid basis, with more in common than the fact you both fancied Chris Smith in the year above (who didn’t know either of you existed). Where you had similar goals and values. Where the world was put to rights over a cup of tea, coffee, bottle(s) of wine, and a massive greasy spoon breakfast the next day to ward off the hangover before doing it all again. Where you share hopes and dreams. Where you plan your future and can’t imagine the other one in it. Has becoming a Mother changed my friendships?
Then life changes, you take different paths
I was one of the first of my friends to become a mother. Of my oldest friends I am still the only one who has children. It’s safe to say that our lives are at different points, myself as the stay-at-home mum I said I would never be, my friends at different stages of their careers. At different stages of their love lives. Our lives seem to be at polar opposites and it would seem that not all friendships can withstand that. Has becoming a Mother changed my friendships?
Some friendships survive through the school years, the fights in the dinner hall, the dancing out in Vegas and the going through messy break ups by hiding out together in Greece to heal together, through getting married and emigrating, through her leaving London and one life behind. They survive, and thrive. They are the friendships where you know if something is wrong you pick up the phone, they will be there. And you wouldn’t hesitate to pick up the phone. Friendships that last children, even when children are only on one side. Friendships that see your oldest standing friend running through strawberry fields with your youngest whilst you are busy looking for somewhere for your three year old to have a wee that he was adamant he didn’t need when you were by a toilet.
But what of your other friendships?
The ones that you swore would be strong enough but have dwindled into nothing. That are now Happy Birthday messages twice a year and maybe a Happy Christmas. The friendships where you know something major is happening in their life but they don’t seem to want to share it with you. The friendships where you once thought they would be there whenever you called and needed them, but now you aren’t sure how to pick up the phone to call.
The friendships that you aren’t ready to give up on just yet, but are having to take a step away from being the one to text. The friendships where they have yet to meet your youngest child. The friendships that meant everything to you, but now you wonder whether it did to them. The friendships where you question whether it’s you. You feel like you’re the same person, with the same values and ideals. But are you? Have you changed? Are you boring now you are a mum? Have your ideals and values changed beyond all recognition so you are no longer the same person they remember? Can you not party like its 1999 anymore? Is it you? Is it them? Has becoming a Mother changed my friendships?
Going round and round in circles. Coming to no conclusions other than it definitely isn’t what it was, that it never will be again. Reminding yourself that you are still there and will still be there if the phone gets picked up but not being able to pick the phone up yourself anymore.
Knowing that you miss that friendship. Wondering if they do too.
But what’s worse is not knowing how to fix it, if you can fix it, or whether in fact you should even attempt to fix it. Feeling like you’ve done all you can, but yet not ever knowing if it was enough.
And to those friendships
You know where I am, I would love for the plans we made to meet to come to fruition. It makes me sad, it upsets me that my boys will not know the girl from my wedding photos that they see on the wall. It frustrates me that plans aren’t always followed through. It angers me that sometimes it feels like me being the one that is trying to chase at every opportunity. But mostly I am sad. I am sad for the friendship that was, the friendship that could have been.
But, I will still be there, at the other end of the phone whenever you need me.