So my question for you to ponder today is this…Is it easy to make new friends, as an adult?
This question has been playing on my mind lately as a new mum, on maternity leave, with free time and a baby boy to amuse.
Many of you may find the question a bit desperate…part of me feels a bit desperate, but I am conscious that my gorgeous Boy 3 will miss out on having friends his own age if I don’t make an effort, as most of my current friends have older children.
I think myself very lucky so far in life…I have lots of friends. And I am not just talking about Facebook friends, but real friends I see in real life! I have friends I can really rely on when the going gets tough, friends I can meet for coffee or shopping or walking, friends to go out drinking with (once this breastfeeding lark is over and done with!) and all of these friends I care about heaps and would offer my help to without question. I am not always the best friend – sometimes I forget birthdays (Happy Birthday Kat – you weren’t forgotten today!) and I forget to text or call, but I am always loyal and thinking of them. I still have one special friend from school, a handful of uni friends, my baby friends (from Boy 1), newer local friends, work friends and friends in different countries across the world.
My school and uni friends are especially special! After all they are my oldest friends (not in an age sense of course -sorry ladies!) and we have seen each other through many ups and downs, dramas, boozy nights and hangovers. These are often the friends I see the least frequently, but we all know that doesn’t matter – we will be in each others’ lives forever and when we are together, it’s like we were never apart.
The friends I made after I had Boy 1 are also very special – we have shared a lot of time together, especially during our maternity leave, sitting in Cafe Nero, making a latte last three hours! And our children have grown up together – not seeing each other on a weekly basis but often enough to keep their own friendships. Us mums have shared all of our pregnancy, labour and baby stories over and over again and know more details about each other lives than our husbands would approve of – oversharing is overlooked!
And then I have my local friends – the mums at the school gate. The ones I see most mornings and afternoons. These people are the ones who are present a lot. The ones I can call at 3pm when I am stuck on a motorway and won’t make school pick up. The ones whose door I can knock on at 8am, kids in tow, and ask them to take the boys to school for me. The ones I can pop round to when I need to borrow medicine, or the missing onion I forgot to buy for my Spag Bol.
Our village school has less than 80 children. You may think that lowers the chances of finding mums you click with, can call your friends and can rely on. And yet you would be wrong. I am hugely lucky to live in the most amazing, tiny village. (In fact geographically we are probably not even a village. A hamlet perhaps?) We are lucky. Everyone is there to help each other. There is always someone on the end of the phone to help out: pop to school to administer Calpol when you are at work; clap loudly for your child at an assembly you may have to miss; take your children home and feed them when you have been held up; not judge when you turn up at the school gate wearing clothes vaguely resembling pyjamas. These lovely ladies (and gents) are truly great friends. I even have a friend so special that when my waters broke all over her heated leather seats in her car, she forgave me!
I remember when we first moved from the suburbs to the sticks. It was three years ago. And my biggest worry (after the one about whether or not my children would make new friends) was that I would have no friends. Or no local friends at least. That I would be the sad, lonely one at the school gate who had no one to talk to. (Maybe because of the pyjama-like attire I might wear!) I am pleased to say that I had no need to worry. Fortunately we knew a family in the village, just a little, and they introduced us to the wonderful friends we now have. I am grateful to that lady every day and she knows who she is. So actually, in a way, I cheated at making friends myself, as she did all the hard work for me!
And that brings me back to now. And my desire to meet new mummy friends, despite being blessed with so many wonderful friends already. Am I being greedy? I hope not…I don’t believe anyone can have too many friends. Only too few. And like me, I want my littlest boy to have friends too. I want to give him a first birthday party where there are actually other one-year-olds in attendance! And so I will put myself out there and meet new people.
And I have started to do this…I took the first step two weeks ago. I joined a baby massage class and as luck would have it, the other mummies are friendly too. After just two classes, we seem to have already bonded. We have shared baby stories. We have sung nursery rhymes together. And our babies have already stared and smiled at each other. And just this week we were all brave, shared our phone numbers, created a What’s App group and planned a lunch date!
Starting friendships can be so much easier in these technology-rich days. You can suss people out, suggest meet ups and suffer the humiliation of friend rejection from behind a screen. And once you have established who is up for being friends, you can push aside the technology and meet up for real, in person, in the flesh, for coffees and walks and chats.
And in that way new friendships are born…without the need to utter those childish words “Will you be my friend please?”
So my answer to my own question is: ‘It is not easy, but it is possible, to make new friends as an adult, with a touch of effort, a little splash of bravery, a dash of technological help and a nearby coffee shop’
Go get ’em!
You can’t stay in your corner of the Forest waiting for others to come to you. You have to go to them sometimes. (A.A. Milne, Winnie-the-Pooh)
What are you friendship stories? Please share them.