Different Stages of Life in Friendships

Yesterday I spent the day with friends that I would count as very good friends, who I have been friends with for over 20 years, but don’t see that much of and who aren’t very good at keeping in touch by text etc.

I have lots of friends like this, and usually when we meet up it is just like normal, we slip into catching up all our info and I come away feeling fresh and revitalised and happy.

Yesterday, I think maybe it was the dynamics of meeting more than one friend together, and they are all in close contact a lot – and so instead of feeling anything positive, I felt left out, unwanted or cared about and not important to any of them.

I realised that they make plans together and do things often, and I understand I have a baby and they don’t so I don’t mind that, although maybe the odd invite would be nice – but they probably think I wouldn’t join anyway. I also realised that one of them seems to hooked up with someone she was friends with, so I would have thought it was a significant enough piece of info and if she valued me as a friend, she might have just dropped me a text after it had been going on a while to say “hey guess what” seeing as I was around for a lot of their friendship etc, and I just would have thought if she thought of me as a close friend, thats what she would have done

So I came home upset. Very upset. I think my husband firstly thought that it was because my life is nowhere near as exciting as theirs (I found out one is off to London next month and one to Paris, and then their hols later in the year are Florida, so yes he would be right to think it might be that) but they also all work, whereas I’m a stay at home mum, so that would have been a mini-jealousy upset that I could deal with logically. This upset has actually hurt me badly, and I realised that I should probably step back further from them (its not like I am in touch much, so not exactly hard!) but its upsetting because when my kids list my closest friends, these two would be right up on top of the list.

It is difficult when you have certain feelings of the importance of a friendship, and then realise that they rank the friendship differently.

I’m in a bit of a negative funk at the moment, my mind is spiralling around negatively at the moment – and I really really need to bring it around to a positive spin and positive attitude. So that is what I am going to work on this week. Self care for my mental health!

Day 6 of My Month of Gratitude

The next one is easy to guess… the last one was family, the next one is…

  1. My Husband
  2. My Children
  3. My Step-Children
  4. My Step-Grandchildren
  5. My Family
  6. My Friends

My friends….

I feel so lucky to have my friends. I have friends that I have been friends with since I was a young child, from Primary School (7yrs old) and one from before that even, and from Secondary School and College.

I seem to have been able to keep my friendships going over the years even though friendship groups have changed and moved on, I stayed friends with one from each group really. My friends are very close to me, even if I don’t see them very often, I still love them dearly.

A few years ago I was going through a bad patch after having my second child, and none of my local friends had children yet. At that stage I realised that I hadn’t made any new friends since college, I had gained two good friends in college but all the rest of my friends I had known since before I was in my teens. I hadn’t made any friends in any job I had worked in, and I had made no mummy friends. I decided when my eldest daughter started school that I needed to find some mummy friends, and I actively tried to talk to mums at the school and made a big effort. One of the mums with a son the same age as mine told me about the local mum and baby playgroup that she went to, and said she’d meet me there if I wanted to go. I was petrified but I sucked it up and I went. And I was so happy I did. It was a lifesaver. It was a life-changer to be honest. I met loads of new mums, and after a while I made friends with some of the mums and progressed to playdates etc. I still am so thankful to that lovely mum. Since my son started school I have made another little group of mum friends which is great too. But my core friends are there still, and pressure free.

For me, my friendships are so important. My friends growing up were very important, I stayed in their houses a lot and know all their families very well. I was very lucky to have those friends when I needed them as a child, and even more lucky to still have them. That saying that “friends are the family you choose for yourself” feels very true for me as I love my close friends like they are family. I always come away from a catch up with a friend feeling good about myself and grateful for having my friends. It is really an area of my life that I am extremely thankful for.


No longer alone

So this morning I had a friend around for coffee. It actually turned into a baby free coffee as she left her one year old at home with her husband and my baby went to sleep just before she got here and woke up as she was leaving. We had a great chat, and it reminded me again how we all (us mama’s, parents, family etc) all need to be supportive and open with each other.

She is a first time mama, as are a number of my friends within the last twelve to eighteen months. I also have a few second time mama’s and a few more third time mama’s within my little circles. We were and are all different, in our expectations before the baby arrived, and when the baby arrived to now. Its very interesting how we all feel and think about this whole parenting thing, and how not one of our expectations turned out to be reality.

When I was expecting my second child, I was petrified. I had a wonderful little girl who was three and a half years old, and was so clever, active and independent and I couldn’t work out how I was going to manage with a baby again, how I would handle two children. Well along came no. 2, and it was fine, I was fine. Everything worked out, and I managed. Now on that point, I must point out that my other half did all the night feeds (I don’t manage well without sleep!) and my sister-in-law called to me most days and helped out with the baby and the housework, both of which made such a huge difference. I did have a bad “not coping” period that began within the first year of my little boy, but thats a story for another day.

On my third pregnancy, I was completely fine, I now had a busy household with two wonderful, relatively well behaved, mannerly, lovely and “good” children, seven years old and almost four years old. I had the attitude of “ah sure the baby will just have to fit in to the household”. And then when the baby arrived, I basically freaked out and wasn’t ready for her. Literally wasn’t ready – I didn’t really have somewhere for the baby to sleep. But of course, here we are seven months on and she is just fitting in. But I found the first few months much harder, I was much more anxious on her, I wouldn’t leave her with anyone, not even the people who had my other two children from a few weeks old.

I talk about these things, and these experiences. And the fact that I lose my temper, and my mind, a lot of the time. That I get upset with myself for losing my temper. That I feel guilty at the end of some days with what I did, or did not do with my children that day. That I have days that I feel like a bad mother. That sometimes my relationship with my other half suffers sometimes, because I sometimes take things out on him when I’m tired or annoyed with myself over something. That I sometimes feel that I have disappeared, that I am just a mama now.

I talk about these things because they are things that we all experience, to different degrees. And when no one talks about them, and you are going through them, you think that you are the only one going through them. You think you are the only one who is struggling in this role. And within the past two weeks I have had four different mums tell me that they’re finding things harder than they expected right now. It just goes to show that every one of us will have good days and bad days, but that if you can tell someone you’re having a bad day or week or month, and they can turn around and say oh I understand because I’m going through it or have gone through it too, then you are no longer alone. And when you’re no longer alone, it’s no longer as bad. Because you don’t have to beat yourself up that you’re the only one not able to cope with certain things, not the only one who wonders is this my life now, not the only one struggles to keep on top of everything and you’re not the only one looking around wondering how does everyone else seem to manage to do it all. We are all in this boat together. You are not alone.