- Credit: Archant
Some friendships stay forever and some have a sell-by-date, but nothing tests friendships more than when you have a child.
It’s difficult to hold on to friends who don’t have children because you can’t play in the same way anymore but it’s even more difficult to find friends who are on the same wavelength with their parenting. Your closest friend may sometimes turn out to be your greatest enemy.
And, boy, have I made some mistakes but I’m sure people have messed up with befriending me, only to realise that I’m not their cup of tea either.
I had a friend who dropped me the minute I got pregnant. I have experienced a friend who made me feel crap about my children by being ultra-competitive. I’ve even been sucked into a friendship with a woman who was so bitchy about everyone including their children that I came to wonder what she was saying about me and my family. The only person allowed to slag off my kids is me after all.
But I’m also aware that I’ve probably said things, especially about parenting, that others have not agreed with and have therefore been turned off.
The draw of having babies together or children in the same class is very dangerous. We take ages to choose a house, buy a car, even decide to have children in the first place, but we jump into friendships so quickly just because we have kids. Is it because we’re desperate to have people to relate to our new phase of life?
Old friendships have definitely changed since I became a mum. Some of my best buddies live in London and most of them don’t have children. Anyone who has seen that episode of Modern Family where Claire brings home her working, single friend has had an insight into my life. I don’t go to gigs anymore, I don’t know what the best clubs are and if they suggest I visit them I’m like “Yeah let’s stay in and chill”. I’m not surprised they’re in no hurry to hang out with me, especially when the alternative is VIP passes to Calvin Harris. They love me still I’m sure, but they think I’m boring.
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The upside is that in antenatal and the playground, you are bound to meet those forever friends who are at the exact same spot in their lives and who understand you, especially on those bad parenting days. We all had a life before we had children and the friends that are more than just mothers, who can make you laugh with tales from their old life, are great. The best times I have had with fellow parenting friends is away from the children.
My aunty said to me that the friends you meet through your children are the very best you will ever make. She is right as there is nothing like meeting a fellow mum who shares your views on parenting, afternoon drinking and the importance of ignoring. And if she has a Twitter account then even better. Children are around for a long ol’ time and so it’s great to meet someone you can laugh (and vent) with.
The point of this is that three weeks ago I actually got asked for my number in the middle of the frozen section at Sainsbury’s. The woman who asked me was another mum, around my age and who had three young children too. Her initial pickup line was something about my daughter’s clothes. We then got chatting about the local skate park where my tomboy likes to be released into her natural habitat. She said she takes her boys there and that we should meet up sometime. So that was it – A DATE. We said our goodbyes and I bolted over to my husband who was buying 500 snacks for the kids.
“Wow,” he said. “A new mummy friend, that’s nice.”
“Errrr yeah.” I replied.
“You don’t seem very excited about it. I thought you needed a few more people to hang out with in the afternoons?” he asked.
“Yes, but did you see what she was wearing and what she had in her basket?”
I knew straight away I’d screwed up. He was right – I’m not in school anymore and someone’s style and what food they buy should not be a deterrent to a possible lifelong friendship. But then I started to think – if I was single and a bloke had asked me for my number and I wasn’t attracted to him, I wouldn’t go for it right? I wasn’t “attracted” to this girl as a friend.
Later, I had just started really pondering on this situation when my husband walked in wearing some manky jogging bottoms and his ‘boat’ shoes that he’s had for 12 years. Right there and then I realised that I have created a family with this slob … so if she does call, I will accept her date offer regardless of my first thoughts.
But it’s been three weeks and she hasn’t called, so maybe she changed her mind about me too.
She will, however, definitely break up with me, if she ever discovers I have a column.