This week I saw a lovely little competition running on a Facebook page. The rule of the competition was to tag the mums who “no matter what are ALWAYS there for you, through thick and thin, sleep deprivation, toddler meltdowns and everything in between….this is about the mum friends who would STILL give you that hug even when you’re covered in baby sick!”
When I saw the competition I smiled for it’s always nice to see such lovely gestures and to see Mums, heck just women in general, encouraging and supporting one another and it was heartening to see how many lovely ladies were being nominated. And then I thought about who I could nominate and I got a bit sad. (You can pop and get your tiny violin for this bit), yes I could nominate lots of lovely Mums. I have a lovely group of friends. Lovely people who I can have a coffee with, have a few pints with or a whinge at. Heck one of them has even given me a hug when I cried once. But looking at the line “no matter what are ALWAYS there for you, through thick and thin”
I don’t have THAT friend, the friend I can text in the middle of the night with my woes who I know will text back as soon as they get the message even if it woke them. The friend I can call upon if I’m having a really shit day and just need someone to sit quietly with. The friend who will rock up with a bottle of wine at the exact right time because I mentioned in passing I was finding life a bit tough. The friend who I would actually tell that life is a bit tough and that sometimes I’m not coping. I don’t have THAT friend.
I grew up down south (admit it, you went ‘daaarrrrn saaarrrfff’ in your head then didn’t you?) when I was 11 and about to start senior school we moved up north (oop North, I know you did that too). Mobile phones weren’t available to commoners and the internet hadn’t been invented yet (I’m old) and 11 year olds starting big school and making new friends aren’t very good at letter writing and phoning each other. Besides a long distance call on a landline would have had a watch tapping parent in the background. So, obviously, I lost touch with the friends I grew up with.
It’s OK though because I moved to a new school and eventually made new friends but once we hit sixth form we all went off to different colleges. Again, mobile phones still weren’t readily available, the internet still wasn’t there for all (we used to do essays on paper with pens and use books for research WHY AM I SO OLD??) so I lost touch with many of my school friends and made MORE new friends. Two years later everyone started drifting off to university and you see how this pans out right? I did have one really good friend I kept from school but when I met my husband *spits* my friends ended up cast aside (my fault for being a shit friend) and we just had joint friends who he subsequently won in the divorce.
So as you see, I’ve never had that one friend that’s been there always. Who’s known me forever. Who knows me best.
That’s not to say that I’ve never had friends, I have. Loads. Honest. I had a great group of friends when I moved to Leeds in the party years but settling down and having babies didn’t really go hand in hand with that particular lifestyle and group of friends. One even went so far as to refer to my unborn child as the ‘excrement of my womb’ – maybe they weren’t that great at being friends after all.
I had some friends I was still in touch with from life pre Leeds. I had work colleagues and friends I met through Rory but I still didn’t have THAT friend and I didn’t actually think it was a problem until I became a Mummy. The first few weeks with Aoife were tough, I had trouble feeding, I was exhausted and lonely. I remember a friend (and mummy) coming to visit, we’d had a bad night and a bad day. As she went to leave I burst into tears “I just can’t do this anymore, I can’t cope” she looked at me awkwardly told me I’d be OK and left. I felt so alone and pathetic and right then I really wished I had THAT friend. The friend who would have hugged me, who would have told me to upstairs and sleep while she looked after Aoife for an hour, the friend who would have cared.
Overtime I’ve become envious (I know it’s not a nice trait) of those who do have THAT friend, that support, that thick and thin buddy. I always try to be THAT friend to other people, texting advice at 3am (when it’s been asked for, not just randomly) looking after children because childcare fell through or Mummy just needed an hour to herself. Offering an ear or a hug because someone is having a hard time but I still don’t have THAT friend who’d do the same for me and it makes me sad that it’s probably too late to find them.
I think that THAT friend is the most important friend to have but even moreso when you become a Mummy, not just in the first few months. ALWAYS. To let you know you’re doing OK, to sit with you while you cry with exhaustion, to tell you you’ve got mascara on your face, to tell you she also made the same faux pas you did, to help you shove aside your mum guilt and to remind you you’re still you inside.
So if you’re lucky enough to have THAT friend celebrate her, let her know. Maybe send her a little gift, tell her you love her or give her a hug and thank her. Thank her for being THAT friend the one who was genuinely there for you when you needed her most and try to be THAT friend in return.
This was originally posted over at meetothermums.com