Wednesday, 8 April 2015

Babies & friendship

Sometimes I forget the person I was before I was a mummy, before I was a wife. I forget the many nights spent out and about in London Town sipping wine and gossiping about work, men, fashion and all things frivolous. I forget how it felt to have disposable income, to have no responsibilities (bar rent and the odd bill), to have the luxury of time. Time to indulge in the finer things in life, time to socialise, time to shop and try on clothes, time to dine out and concentrate entirely on the person I was with. Life before I was a mummy is a distant but beautiful memory.

These days, life is somewhat different. Don't get me wrong, it is wonderful, more than wonderful. But it is quite different. I've changed. I've changed so much. Priorities are so different now, as are my interests. I'd love to enjoy a frivolous dinner out, but I feel a little more serious these days, and a lot more grown up. As I have changed, my friendships have too. New people have come along and some old people (not in age, in length of relationship) have sort of dropped off.  Not best friends… friends on the sort of periphery  Now that I don't have the luxury of free time, I have to chose very carefully who I share it with. 

Obviously during the week, when I am not working, my time is spent with the little man and other mummy friends entirely. Play dates, classes, fun activities, meals out are a blur of joy, mess and giggles. I am quite good at balancing conversations (i.e. talking about other things than motherhood) but I do always have one eye on my boy. My mind is a swirl of meal planning, shopping lists, playtime, snacks, drinks, baby books, sleep time, danger zones and worry. This is just the shortlist.

Weekends are largely spent with other 'families' (I find it odd to think of us as a proper family, it feels so very grown up but I suppose we are), out and about doing fun 'toddler' things or doing something that we can enjoy as a couple that we hope our boy will do (such as mooching about town, shopping or going for a meal out). We do occasionally see friends without babies. In truth, most of them (couple wise) like to see us in the evening. They don't say it explicitly but I believe it to be true. Bar one or two who have genuinely spent time getting to know & love Harry, most don't really get it and prefer our attention spent on them. These are the friends who I am a little self conscious around, not about my appearance, about how often I offer 'mummy chat'. I sometimes hear myself talking about Harry and try to reign myself in so as to not bore my company.

When thinking about this topic I wondered if it was just me who felt like this. To satisfy this wondering I asked a group of mummy friends whether they felt that there friendships had altered since becoming a mummy.  All but two of the ten girls I asked did. Some felt less sociable these days, they'd prefer to stay in and see mummy friends who 'get them', some felt so disappointed that there previous friends had dropped them when they became a mummy, apparently a lot of husbands felt this way too, some felt that they had to make so much more effort with older friends as they knew that if they didn't the friendships would fade away. They all felt that they wouldn't have got through the challenge of becoming a new mummy without their new mummy friends, met at classes, through NCT or through other friends.

The two who didn't feel this way had made a conscious effort to not become one of 'those mums', those mums who only talk about babies, always look a mess and generally lose themselves to motherhood (there words not mine) These girls travel forty plus minutes to see friends on a week night, ensure there baby chat is limited and keep up to date with the news/entertainment culture to make sure they have something to say for themselves.

Both groups said their worst nightmare is the obligatory weekly/fortnightly/monthly work drinks. They just don't have the time or inclination to socialise with colleagues. 

I'd say I was somewhere in the middle of both groups. I love working, using my mind, reading magazines, books and keeping up to date with the news. I do feel let down by so many friends who have disappeared since I became a mum (although I largely blame myself) and I feel blessed to have all these new mummy friends who totally get me and what I am going through.

One thing I will say is that non mummy friends seem to appreciate it so much when I make the effort to see them for supper in an evening or a drink, when I call them to check in and remember dates, job interviews  and so on… essentially their news. Which I suppose makes sense. They chose to be friend with me as I was then and whilst they of course are happy for me, they probably miss a bit of the old me.

I recently downloaded this app, it's called 'Connect' and basically, it pulls your contacts from all your social media feeds into a little map. Maybe this will help me stay in touch with my friends and more importantly with their news. It's so easy to become a little self obsessed when your a mummy and maybe I should do a little better at staying on top of my friends lives! As I've already said, they really appreciate it… when one of my friends gets in touch to ask how Harry is, or to ask how a particularly activity was that I maybe posted a picture of on Facebook or Instagram, it makes me so happy. Everything works both ways and as cliche as it sounds, I guess you get out what you put in.

What I like about this app is that it sends you an alert if one of your friends who lives over 100 miles away is in your area so you may end up seeing an old or forgotten (sounds so mean, but you know what I mean) friend unexpectedly. I got an alert the other day about a friend I had totally forgotten about from school, whilst I didn't meet up with her (maybe next time), it prompted me to send her a message and now we are back in touch! Social media is great, it really is, but nothing is more important than a little (real) face time.

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