• Forever friends?
  • Author avatar
    Amelia Slocombe
  • friendshipmotherhoodrelationships

Forever friends?

I am proud to admit that I have a number of close friends, all of whom I treasure very dearly. I also take great pride in the fact that, over the course of my lifetime, I have managed to keep most of them. Obviously a large number of casual acquaintances and fleeting girl crushes have fallen by the wayside, as have friendships that were never really meant to be. But my very good close friends are still exactly that.

You might ask how I’ve managed it. Well, to be honest, with some of them, it’s taken a lot of bloody hard work. Yes, there are those who you might not see or speak to for six months on end, and when you do it’s like you’ve never been apart. Those are the “low maintenance” ones. But some friends fall into the “high maintenance” category. That’s not meant in a negative way, they just happen to require an extra amount of TLC to keep the friendship intact.

But I’ve never had an issue with keeping my high maintenance friends. I think it stems from being an only child. You see I never had siblings to share my highs and lows with, so I had to have friends instead. And I had to keep them. Which meant that, sometimes, I had to put in a lot of effort. I would trek across London to visit a friend who never left Notting Hill. I would treat a jobless friend to dinner because otherwise she wouldn’t have come out at all. And I did this in the full and certain knowledge that they probably would never think to return the favour. Some would say I am a mug. I would say I just care.

So when I first became pregnant with Arthur, it never once occurred to me that having a baby might result in me losing some friends, especially the ones without children. Because surely having a baby shouldn’t make a difference to friendship? Should it?

There are some people I know that would have laughed in my face had I said this out loud. “Of course you lose friends when you have a baby. You just don’t have the time to devote to them anymore.” Well, I can assure you, two years later, I can proudly laugh the louder. Because having Arthur didn’t lose me a single friend. And why? Because I worked my arse off to keep them.

So in case you are interested, here are my top five tips for preserving friendships after you have a baby. I should qualify this by saying that these recommendations are very much geared towards keeping friends who don’t have children. Those with children tend to automatically fall into the “low maintenance” category anyway.

1) Pre-warn. Let’s face it, the first couple of months after having a baby are really REALLY hard. But your childless friends don’t necessarily understand that. So tell them. In the same way that you’d tell them if you were going travelling to Australia for three months, explain that you’ll be out of action for a while. And apologise in advance if you don’t manage to respond to texts for a couple of days. If you pre-warn them, they’ll be more likely to understand.

2) Don’t resent them. When I first had Arthur, I realised that my life was going to change beyond recognition. And although people tell you that over and over again, you don’t really get it until after you give birth. So it is therefore easy to become resentful of your childless friends and their very active social lives. To the extent that you convince yourself that they’re deliberately going out more now just to wind you up. Well they’re not. They’re just living their baby-free independent lives. So don’t be jealous. Live vicariously through them instead.

3) Don’t mention the b-word. You may think this is impossible, but try not to talk about your baby until you are asked. And even then, try to keep it brief. And definitely try to avoid talking about colic, reflux, breastfeeding and sleep deprivation. It’s really boring. Yes you are tired, yes you are at the end of your tether, but those conversations are best saved for your friends with babies, your other half and your mum. And definitely don’t talk about your bleeding nipples, your 48-hour labour or your post-labour third degree tear. That’s the equivalent of starting up a conversation about the victims of Jack the Ripper.

4) Remember your friends have a life outside your baby. It’s amazing how people with a baby think the world revolves around them. I certainly did for the first six months. But it doesn’t. There are other people out there who are living equally interesting lives as well. And they have their own problems, and heartaches, and worries. So ask about them. And actually listen to the response. There is nothing more annoying than asking a friend how they are, only for you to then ignore them whilst you change a nappy. The nappy can wait five minutes. It really can.

5) Allow yourself some baby-free time. This is so important. I know there are those unfortunate souls who are raising children single-handedly without any help at all. And if you are, you deserve a medal. But if you do have some help available, whether that be in the form of parents, in-laws or your other half, take advantage. Even if it’s only one evening every couple of months. Get someone else to put the baby to bed, get dressed up and go out on the town with your childless friends. Friends without children are more fun to go out with anyway. For one, they don’t talk about bleeding nipples, their 48-hour labour or their post-labour third degree tear.

And you know the amazing thing that also happens when you devote some time to your childless friends? They will show genuine interest in your baby. And they will listen when you complain and they will be sympathetic. But only for a little while.

Especially if they’re high maintenance.

  • Author avatar
    Amelia Slocombe
  • friendshipmotherhoodrelationships

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