Friendships and Motherhood.
Life before becoming a professional bum changer to a champion wiggler that’s more slippery than the average fish trying to escape the clasp of a fisherman’s hands, I have found that once you’ve upgraded your life to motherhood every breath you take will be child-consumed. The last four years of motherhood I barely have had a chance to take care of myself, the housework or the mountain deep washing pile, so that i think we’re running low on clothing, so I buy more clothes then realise the top i had been looking for is 3 foot deep in the washing bin!!
An epic ‘Beksie fault’, guilty as charged.
I know first hand that it can be mentally, emotionally and physically difficult even maintaining a close relationship with the father of your children, on any scale, yet alone hoping for friendships outside the family unit to last.
Specially after giving birth to my son who is currently 17 months old, I didn’t get to experience those hazy, blissful loving first few days of bonding and having lots of company from family and friends. My poor boy spent 6 nights in the ICU unit. I felt myself slowly yet surely sinking deep into the baby blues. I cried every time the father left, I missed being home with my two babies, and I missed being surrounded by sheer chaos and noise. Instead I was in this big spacious white, clinical room with a continuous beep of the baby’s heart beat and oxygen pressure. My boy shared a room with one other baby, whose family popped in and out throughout the day. Which was comforting but during the night I was lonely and just had my precious poorly boy for comfort, who was nursing from me.
I had moved to a new town and felt pretty isolated from my family and friends. Although most of my immediate friends aren’t mothers, for the times they visited myself, the two toddlers and baby I questioned and listened to their adventurous life that I once had. I would love to hear what they was doing, experiencing and what seemed little problems, taking it in joyfully as if I was that young woman in my 20s again. I found these precious girl times was slowly becoming less frequent and harder to maintain, although we text daily it’s not the same.
But luckily one of my old teen friend who is also a mother to a gorgeous 7 year old recently moved too. Pretty much the one thing you can do with a newborn surgically attached to your boob is chat. And chat we did. The closeness you so quickly form with your new mummy friends is beautifully deep.
When your non mummy friends come round and slump on the sofa and kick back and exclaim they’re exhausted. Had a awful day at work, emotionally confused from a heartache drama and still slightly hungover… I quite literally smiled how blissfully unaware they was to how hard it was being a mother to multiple of children and fighting off baby blues, ‘try being in my shoes’.
Not one of my non mummy friends could ever share the same enthusiasm or understand what an phenomenal achievement it is that your little darling slept from 11pm instead of hourly cluster feeding until 2am before waking for their first feed of the night, and most certainly cant comprehend with your obsession with the colour, texture and frequency of your breast fed baby’s poops to your now toddlers poop that quite frankly is the worst smelling thing to date, and know that they will never understand the true feeling of engorged breasts, cracked nipples and comparing the ever changing post-partum bleeding from all your children’s birth, these aren’t conventional topics for a non mummy. To finally find a friend that truly gets why your dressed in your pjs at 3pm, a face that hasn’t seen a mirror to know you have crusty baby vomit on your chin, mascara that’s kindly hugging onto your under eye bags, your top has one wet patch from your leaky boobs, someone that takes pure delight in recalling the birth of your children, it is such a relief to find that you’re not alone.
At the start you get friends you forgot about messaging you like they’re your new Best friend again, completely ogling over your newborn. Your Facebook messages explode, and you gain more likes on a photo than you ever get in a year! The royalty of having a new born soon wears thin, specially when the development starts to change the tiny little bundle of newborn cuteness into a crawling, drooling, climbing human which then discovers its legs and can run before walking, then the chat and boy do they chat!
You begin to feel you will never finish off a sentence and your non mummy friends are looking at you with either sympathy or pity I can’t work that one out yet, it’s a struggle to finish a sentence, let alone a conversation, when your 4 years of age son is asking you the same damn question on repeat, and your replies of ‘just a minute Darling’ turn to a solid ‘WAIT’, your darling daughter who is profoundly deaf climbing up onto something that will injure the girl, yet she’s feral at heart so shes on a repetitive mode and climbs some more making your total trip of getting up and down off the sofa and muting your conversation for the 20th time. And then your baby is no longer in that sleeping, cute squidgy baby stage. It’s a hungry, teething monster, and full on suffering a serious case of ‘man flu’. Maternity leaves come to an end, and your little bubble of long, lazy days hanging out with a tight-knit little group of mamas and babas is suddenly burst.
My then sweet little babies are now energetic, talking rambunctious 4, 2 and 17 month year olds with busy social lives of their own to be maintained at nursery and little siblings hospital appointments as well as my own, working part time and maintaining a family home thrown into the mix as well, meet-ups with these wonderful women are few and far between. And when the childcare stars align we manage a quick catch up over the children’s squeals and wars.
Non of my pre-children friends had babies of their own when I had my eldest and to date they still don’t, I am so excited to spoil their children when their time is right and be their biggest support and helping hand. After all I should be a pro at it by then (Haha!). Whilst they were generous with their cuddles and gifts, but their lives carried on in much the same way. And what was hard for me, mine had undergone a seismic change and I felt as if I was stood frozen observing them through a pane of glass, able to see but not reach out to them.
But soon it won’t be long until they have children of their own, understanding the curfew of 11pm, why we take advantage of the pee in peace on rare odd appearance during a meal out, why I generally have splodges of someone else’s bodily fluids somewhere and that’s just common occurrences. But then they will truly understand how harder it will be to see them, and harder still to actually listen to them. And how hard it was being a mummy on your own. And appreciate the company.
My non mummy friends, We try to meet. But a simple brunch at a child-friendly cafe in town quite possibly could have scared them off having children for life! Sometimes simple things like this, can feel more frustrating than enjoyable, for the both of us, we don’t actually get to talk to each other very much. And I’m consistently thinking two steps ahead of my children’s actions, what will they do next? Who will get off the chair first? Who will launch the first item of food off their plate? They don’t necessarily play nicely together just because they’re siblings . I can be desperate to hear their news, their views on the current political situation, even just to find out where they bought their lovely (albeit non food splattered stained) coat, but I can spend 2 or 3 hours in their vicinity without any of us finishing a sentence to each other because i’m too busy coaxing a two year old to sit still and eat her sandwich.
In reality until my children are schooling, a mere text is a reminder I still exist and I still care. You will soon learn the chasm of friendships in motherhood and take some brief comfort from the fact that we are not alone in this.
It’s sad when who we deem friends, are ones who live in our phones. Merely because the luxury of meeting them face to face is almost as existent as seeing a dinosaur cross the street. In a biter sweet reality, the nature of friendships change and move on. The intensity you once had with teenage relationships with friends does not carry on into adult life. Life viciously pulls you apart in different directions. Those young carefree, late nights that blissfully unawarely turned to early morning drinking sessions don’t necessarily survive geographical dispersion and fledgling careers with 9am or a baby screaming at the top of his lungs at 4am. But it is worth holding on. It is worth making the effort, even when it seems impossible, because when you do achieve the holy grail of a real conversation with a proper friend, the residual feel-good factor can keep you going through an awful lot of splattered pasta sauce, toddler tantrums and extreme tiredness. I’m lucky enough to have a small group of remaining non mummy friends. And when we reunite it’s like we’ve never spent so long apart. Cheralyn and I go back to senior school and I still remember in science class sending her a note asking if she’d be my best friend. We’ve experienced many laughs, experiences, holiday abroad, troubles and changes, boyfriends and heartbreaks. She’s watched me grow as a mother a different path to what she’s chosen, a career driven woman in HR. She’s travelled to many beautiful parts of the world, whilst I nurtured my children. I’m grateful for the times we do have together even if they’re limited. It’s a friendship worth hanging on to, and I’m so excited to see you grow too.
Being Luka-james’, Alivia-Ellen’s and Parker-james’ Mummy has fulfilled my life in more ways I can ever express, but I need the people in my life who still see me as Beksie a 27 year old woman.