At Home Mums' Blog

Take a light hearted look at the issues faced by mums home with the kids. Read some personal views on the challenges of raising children today, and the pressures mums face. My website - www.athomemums.com - has some more serious and hopefully useful stuff on all these topics. I'd love to get your comments and advice. If anyone out there can help this mum maintain her sanity, it would be much appreciated!

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Monday, 17 August 2009

Friendships

I have been reading a book called 'How to be a Happy Mum', and found the section on friendships quite interesting. It made me reflect on being a mum and the friendships you find and lose over time.

A lot of mums feel very isolated when they first have their babies. They have moved from the working world where they had day to day interaction with their colleagues, and often socialised of an evening or weekend, to a world where the baby is the number one communicator, and socialising takes second place to sleep where ever possible.

If you are very lucky, your friends are having babies at the same time as you, but for the majority of us, timing doesn't quite work like that.

Suddenly being home with the baby can be very lonely, and you have to make an effort to have adult interaction. I know for me, getting out of the house and at least being amongst other people is an important part of the day, even if it is just going to the park or shops, where I have a brief chat with the teller or the mum whose child is on the swing next to mine. Mothers' Group was great. It forced me to meet other mums with children the same age, got me out of the house and socialising, and was a great source of advice and reassurance especially in those early years. But having said that, five years on it has drifted apart and we have moved away from the area so catching up is hard and the kids no longer really know each other.

It's just another example of the transient nature of friendships once the children have come along. I have made friends since Holly was a baby, through Mothers Group, a pregnancy yoga class I attended, and with mums of the kids I looked after in Family Day Care. But, as the children attended different classes and then different pre-schools, friendships have dwindled and we've moved on.

When my first was little, we saw one friend with a child the same age almost every week. As the girls started pre-school and we both moved areas, catching up became more difficult and less frequent, but we still spoke regularly. The two girls went to each others' 4 year old birthday parties last year, but I have to say Holly had to be persuaded to invite this friend, and I suspect it was the same the other way round. Our children have other friends and neighbours they see every day or every week, and the old friendship turned out to be an adult friendship and not a child one. My friend and I ended up having a chat about birthdays, and accepted that we wouldn't be offended if our children didn't want the other one at their next party. After all, they were not likely to see each other very much and would have a whole host of pre-school friends to invite. But, the important thing was, that we agreed that as adults we could still have a friendship even if the children didn't.

But, a year on, 5 year old birthdays have been and gone, and it hasn't happened. We last caught up properly about 8 months ago, and Holly played with her brother, and my friend's two played with each other. I have phoned a few times since, and she squeezed in a quick catch up at the shops in between the sales, but since then, I've not heard back. I feel like I've been dropped. There's a part of me that mourns the loss of a friendship. And because it's my nature to, I worry that I've done something wrong.

But if I think about it, that's the way it goes when you have children. It's hard to maintain a friendship that came about through the children, when they no longer see each other regularly, and let's face it, don't particularly warm to each other when we do catch up. For us mums, catching up for a drink, or a movie in the evening seems like a good idea, but in reality, we don't even do this much with our own hubbies, so making time for a girly night out, when we live 30 minutes drive apart is a tricky one.

So which friendships do survive? For me, it's the friendships I had pre-kids, that have survived. We all have children now, of different ages, but it's not about them so much as about us. For others, it's those who they spend time with away from the kids; a mum's weekend away without the interruption of children, or an evening with the girls that's let them develop a relationship beyond the children.

Pre-school has been a good source of adult contact. Last year it was mainly hellos and how are yous. This year we have a chat and the kids play together, we've been to the social events and even the guys are getting to know each other.

Even so, as we face the move from pre-school to school next year, this year's friendships will move on. Our children are going to different schools, so we'll naturally socialise with a different group of parents, and let's face it, with the busy life of a 5 year old to plan around, there won't be much time for grown up socialising. But the 3 year old will be at pre-school and I'll be an old hand, happy to have a chat with new mums as they too look for a bit of adult contact and maybe even a friendship.

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2 Comments:

Blogger Colin Wee said...

A lot of mums feel very isolated when they first have their babies. They have moved from the working world where they had day to day interaction with their colleagues, and often socialised of an evening or weekend, to a world where the baby is the number one communicator, and socialising takes second place to sleep where ever possible.

It's not only mums. When I was in playgroup, all the mums were thrilled to find out that I would fluctuate between being mentally numb and mentally hazy.

The day to day menial slog for a small child is way different to my previous role in mid to senior management. Sometimes I can't even remember what cubes of frozen veges I've defrosted for lunch ... was that yesterday???

As House Husband I can safety say all my ideas of networking and studying during the two sleep sessions were crazy. It's impossible.

The day basically consists of one major activity and one minor activity. The major activity could be a visit to the park. Or playgroup. The minor could be tidying up the activity room.

Keep in there.

Colin
The Original SuperParent

12 March 2010 at 12:31 pm  
Anonymous Lelah said...

Brilliant article! My eldest is only 3 so I'm entering the pre-school arena soon. But none of my friends have kids yet, so I feel very much on the fringes.

28 March 2011 at 9:16 pm  

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