In the busy lead up to Christmas, most of us are madly trying to cram in seeing as many of our nearest and dearest as possible. The exchanging of gifts, air kisses and bear hugs may be a task and a half to organise but it is oh so worth it once we get there.
My children are particularly lucky. We have a set of friends with whom we have been around their whole lives. Some of whom I grew up with, others who I have met along the way either with babies in tummies or in various classes with our small people in attendance.
For some it is a miracle we have lasted this long considering we probably have yet to finish a conversation in full due to the constant interruption of little people uttering that favourite age old sentence; “Mummy mummy mummy mummy mummy.” How common place it is to lose the point of your story before you are even half way through. The failed attempts to come back to the same conversation so many times that neither of you have a clue what you were talking about. And does anybody welcome the fateful cry of “Mummy! Finished done a…..?”
When it comes to my people, there is a very select short list. My 333-strong Facebook friendship circle is in reality more like about 6. If I were to throw an impromptu party there would be way more than 6 turn up but only because no one can get a babysitter and everyone has at least two children.
I myself am extremely fortunate. My friends are people I can moan to, share inappropriate stories with, be open and honest about parenting with and best of all, laugh about all the stupid shit we have done before and the exciting times yet to come. They keep me sane in a world that sometimes sends me round the bend.
And over the edge.
And up the wall.
Real friends are the ones you don’t need to see. You don’t have to speak to. Not constantly anyway. Certainly not all the time. The ones that may not hear from you in a while but do not give you the lecture about not having heard from you in ages. My argument to this will always be that you have a phone too.
I am not someone who gets the arse about people who do not contact me. If I love you as my friend and you pick up the phone and call (or text, or whats app, or any number of the other ways we can live in each others pockets these days), I will be thrilled to hear from you and no doubt do the very British thing of apologising profusely that I have not been in touch. It will be genuine too. I love to hear from my friends. Anytime for anything.
I frequently find myself messaging friends with a short but sweet “Radio 2 now” in the hope that miraculously they may get to a radio to listen to that very same song, and have the very same emotional trip down memory lane as I am in that very moment.
If someone comes into your thoughts, share it. Your best friends are the ones who will always be happy to hear from you.
Of course, my people are also the ones I turn to in times of need. Tear streaked messages of desperation at any time of day and night are generally met with patience and love. I have more than leaned on my people these past two years and I shall be forever grateful. My hope would be that they know I would do the same for them. No questions asked. No alterior motives. No expectation of anything in return. Just because. Because I love them and they are my people.
Not all friendships work this way. There are the friends that work tit for tat. They won’t call you if it was they who called you last time. They won’t invite you over if they invited you over last time. They wait for you to invite their kid over as the playdate happened at theirs last time. This way of thinking simply does not work for me.
Friendship is not a competition. Nor is it about giving to receive. Friendship should not be one sided by any means but it should have a natural flow and grudges are not something that work in that environment.
I’m pretty sure I have pissed plenty of Smobs and Smogs* off along the way. My children don’t get invited to many playdates or parties which means either they are hopelessly unpopular and have no friends OR (more likely) Mummy Nash screwed up in their younger years and made them a bunch of social lepers due to the distinct lack of inviting people back. Sorry boys!
It’s a veritable minefield out there though with regards to the children’s friendships. I have never got the hang of it and tend to stand alone in the playground, eagerly waiting for my children to run out so I can get the hell out of there before I have to speak to anyone or anyone speaks to me. I hate it.
There I said it.
I hate the playground.
When my kids were in Infant school I was not one to instantly check their book bags to make sure they had a new book for us to read that evening (coz heaven forbid they read the same book twice), or hang around to chat to the teachers to find out how my little darling had done in finger painting that day. Nothing against those who did, in fact maybe my lack of organic parenting is what left me standing alone at the back of the playground.
Actually I would like to bet it’s more likely to have been the scowl on my face, lack of eye contact with anyone and the grabbing of my child’s hand to run out of the gates as soon as possible that did it.
Which, by the way, was totally my choice. Still is actually. You see most unfortunately my people are not in my playground. Two of them should be but they both work full time which, before I was working, was most inconvenient as it meant I could have had my very own gang, only they weren’t bloody well there.
Nope my people are a unique and eclectic bunch. The ones who get me. And I like to think I get them. We have the same bullshit conversations year in year out, always older, sometimes wiser. Comparing notes on lives and loves and children and alcohol content. I’m pretty sure I could make the most brilliant book if I were to screen shot the funny bits of text conversations with my people. Maybe that will be my next project. Though I’m not sure I would ever want my children to read the book. Not without therapy booked for after.
I guess the point I am making with all of this is that you need to find your people. Find the ones you can be yourself with. The ones who need no explanation. Who you don’t feel obliged to text or call or visit. The ones you do all of the above without even thinking about it.
Friends are not there to make you feel bad. You have family for that. Friends are the family we choose.
Choose wisely my friends
*Smobs = Smug Mother Of Boys
Smogs = Smug Mother Of Girls