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.
Friendships take all sorts of twists and turns you have captured it so well. Life goes in so many different directions at different speeds I’m sure you wil reconnect again x #BloggerClubUK
It can be hard when you feel that you are at different stages to your friends. I was the first one to get married and the first one to have children. I am now the only stay-at-home mum and as a result I think I have probably changed as a person and I was probably not a very good friend for a while. I lost my confidence and for a while wasn’t very happy. However, my friends were very patient and gave me space and as a result our friendship is now stronger for it. I hope that your friend gets in touch soon. Sometimes time and space can help xx #bloggerclubuk
I could’ve written this, by that I mean I’m in exactly the same place. Some of my friends have been fantastic, patient and understanding that I can’t do it all anymore. Even organising nights in so I can bring my little ones. Some have just fallen away – possibly to be picked up once I’m more available again – say 16 years?!!
It’s very similar in some ways to when I lost my Dad. Some step up, some back off, more because they’re not sure how to be I think.
Either way, same goes, I’ll pick up the phone & be there. I’ll understand 🙂
Great post xx
This is so true Laura. I think it was the biggest thing that I totally wasn’t prepared for when I became a mum. I found that so many of my friendships were built on me making the effort, and when my life got busy with a newborn and I didn’t have the time to make that effort those friendships dwindled. when my big one was 10 months old a really close family member passed away, and that really brought it home to me who my real friends were. And there were some that really let me down, that I would have never expected. It took me a long time to come to terms with that and accept that some friendships weren’t as strong as I thought. Some luckily were and I have made so many new friends since. But it’s a really hard part of parenting, your identity changes so much and sadly so do some friendships.
Oh you could have been writing about my life. I feel like this about a friendship that I still can’t believe has become like this. It’s so sad that having children can change a friendship, I really don’t see why it should. X # bloggerclubuk
A great post, isn’t it strange how things change? I have hardly any friends now and I really couldn’t care less. The ones that matter are still there and we catch up occasionally. The rest don’t matter, if they’d been proper friends we wouldn’t have lost touch. And I’m strong enough to manage on my own, which is briliant in itself.
This is really powerful and I think most people can relate to it, me included. It can be so upsetting when this happens and also so unexpected.
It’s so hard when friendships change and your lives shift in different directions. I have found similar things have happened with some of my friends – our lives have changed and we rarely speak anymore (although it’s still nice on the rare occasion we do). Marriage was the first thing that shifted friendships for me – it’s harder when you can only really be friends with one person out of the couple no matter how hard you try to be friendly with both. I’ve learned to accept that sometimes things change and to try to accept it although it usually only comes after allowing time to grieve the friendship that has been lost. On the flip side though, I have discovered friendships (with old friends) since having children, and particularly with the extra challenges that have come with having Jessica – people who I never thought I’d stay in touch with are now amongst my closest friends and the ones that I know will truly be there for us as a family whenever we need them. That side of things makes it easier to accept changes in friendship – one door closes and then later on another one opens unexpectedly. Sending you hugs and wishing you all the best with working through the sadness of losing the friendship you once had x #bloggerclubuk
I always think about this and the friends I feel I have neglected and ignored. I felt it before I had a child when life just flew by in a haze of daily life but I feel it even more so now where spare time really is my most valuable commodity!
Bit the responsibly falls worth born parties so I feel slightly better knowing that is not just me. And over the years I have been trying to teach myself to be thankful for the friendships whilst they existed but that not everything can last forever. I’m just eternally grateful for the old friends who are always there regardless!
I do wonder if at times they felt neglected and if it was me. At the end of the day I know I have tried. I am thankful for the friends I’ve had, the friends I have and the friends that are yet to come xx
I think that this is true of everyone that has children. Especially if they are the first of their friends to become domesticated. It’s so sad when it happens though. I read something great about everyone coming into your life at a certain time/place for a reason and it being ok to let them go. You wouldn’t be able to keep up a friendship with everyone you connected with in your lifetime. Not much comfort when it’s a friend you thought was a lifelong one but it happens to us all. Clearing a space for a new friendship I say.
I was talking about friendships at work yesterday strangely enough. I have quite a few friends that I don’t often see but when we do meet up it’s exactly the same as it always was – just a lot less frequent! But there are quite a few that have faded away completely with neither side quite keen enough to make the effort and that’s definitely sad.
Hopefully building some new blogging friends over coming months! #BloggerClubUK
This has been very apparent in my life in the last 6 months. I have a friendship that I wonder if I am just going through the motions with because she is an old friend. I feel like it is always me making the effort but maybe I shouldn’t but then I worry about what may happen… I think lots of women go through this but it is definitely not an enjoyable part of being a parent.