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Mother and child photograph source unknown

As a mum there is a certain sense of selfishness in the excitement of a friend announcing their first pregnancy. Of course I am genuinely happy that they are creating a family with the person they love, that part is a given. But then there is the other congratulations that is not said and that is “I’m so happy that you are going to be a mum, too“.

I’m so happy because now you will ‘get’ what this whole thing is about. You will ‘get’ the endless sleepless nights. And the heart-aching love. You will ‘get’ the obsession over why a toddler won’t eat his dinner. And the overwhelming responsibility of raising a child. And when I tell you that I’m struggling to know how best to discipline, you just ‘get it’. Because you are there too, or have been, or will be. Our friendship finds a new level of commonality because we are now both in the thick of motherhood, with all its challenges and triumphs.

I love my childless friends just as much as those who are mums. Their company is often a welcome break from the all-consuming world of motherhood. A chance to revert back to just being me, to talk about everything else that makes up life. And there is so much of it. Careers, travel, relationships, adventures. And if I’m truly honest, sometimes I like to live vicariously through these friends, and their careers and travels and adventures. Because frankly it’s a bit more exciting than changing endless nappies and wiping half-eaten food off the floor.

The truth of it is, however, our lives are very different now. Where we shared the highs and lows of school and university, first relationships and travel, suddenly our paths have taken vastly divergent directions. So, when a non-mum friend announces her impending mamma-hood, internally I get excited that we will again be on the same page of life. That I will be able to empathise with the “I’m-so-freaking-over-being-pregnant-get-this-baby-out-of-me” feeling. The “I-have-no-idea-why-this-baby-won’t-stop-crying” breakdown. And the “I-love-this-little-person-so-much-my-heart-my-just-explode” moments. I will nod my head and ‘get it’ because I am there, or have been, or will be.

So to my beautiful non-mamma friends, know that if and when you decide to go down the motherhood path I will be absolutely elated for you but also, selfishly, quietly, happy for myself.

image source unknown but found here

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Eighteen years ago a slightly nerdy nine-year old girl with long brown hair found herself at a new school. The first few days she kept her distance, and her mouth shut, uncharacteristically quiet, unusually timid. She longed for her friends left behind in the middle east, a place that had to come to feel more like home than her homeland, Australia. Here, her faintly English accent stood out. Here, her advanced math was unusual. Here, her desert upbringing was odd. She was different. And alone. Until one lunchtime three girls approached her. And with the social ease that only children have, invited her to be their friend, part of their group. And she accepted. Without a moments hesitation.

***

There are certain pivotal moments in anyone’s life. Moments that forever change the course of things, the fabric of you. That day in the playground changed me because,from that point on, I would always have these girls in my life. Over the years our group of four grew to eight. And now, close to twenty years later, these girls remain constants in my world. Together we have navigated primary and high school, university, boyfriends, break-ups, travel, jobs, babies and marriage. We have celebrated success and consoled in despair. We have history. So much history. I often wonder if we all met today if we would be friends. We’ve grown into vastly different people, with different aspirations, and different values. But none of that matters, because of that shared history. We were there for each others beginnings. And though time and distance now means we no longer live in each others pockets, when life brings us back together it is always as if no time at all has passed. That is the beauty of our friendship: its roots are deep enough to withstand the longest of droughts.

***

Michelle is one of these girls and it has been almost two years since we were last in the same country. She has been off sailing the world, meeting her future husband, having grand adventures. Tomorrow when we finally see each other, all that time and life that has gone between us, it will fade away. And we will pick up right where we left off, without a moments hesitation.

Do you have friends like that, where time and distance doesn’t seem to matter?

When I was pregnant the thought of a ‘mothers group’ made me inwardly cringe. I had nothing real life to base this off, just too many bad American movies where the women were uptight and competitive, and the children were either perfect or the devil. So when I went along to my first mothers group when Lachie was eight weeks old I was happily surprised to find that everyone else there were trying their best to get through first time motherhood, just like I was.

The absolute best part of making myself go to that first get together was meeting Bec and Oliver. Over almost the last two years we’ve become fast friends. Ollie and Lachie were born less than a week apart and over the weeks, months and years we’ve watched them get to know each other. Sometimes this has involved cuddles and sharing. At other times; pushing, hitting, and hair pulling. Nevertheless there is no doubting their early friendship. To prove his fondness for his friend one of The Monsters first words was “Oh-wee” and when we went to visit yesterday for our weekly playdate the whole five-minute car ride went along the lines of  “car, Oh-wee, yay!”.

And as the boys friendship has grown so to has mine and Bec’s. At each stage, we’ve discussed our parenting challenges, our worries over eating and sleeping and the crazy amount of boundless energy our boys seem to have. I always look forward to our weekly meet-ups, even if sometimes we spend most of the time playing referee between snatching and shrieking toddlers.

Making friends as a child is easy but as an adult it becomes so much harder to find someone you truly ‘click with’. So as much as I am thankful for The Monsters friendship with Ollie, I’m even more grateful for finding a friend in Bec.

So tell me, have you got any friends you’ve had since you were a baby/toddler? And what about now, do you find it easy to make friends as an adult?

I met Abby on our first day of university. We were studying the same dual degree in Journalism and Advertising and I remembering feeling that immense sense of relief because I knew that I would, at the very least, have one friend amongst the swarms of strangers.

And so over the next four years I could count on Abby to commiserate with over yawn-inducing lecturers, sleep-deprivation, and the dreaded group assignments where we were inevitably grouped with people who frankly didn’t give a shit and were happy to scrape together enough work  just to pass. We understood each others performance anxiety and over-achieving mentality where anything less than a high distinction felt like failure. When we graduated Abby scored a highly-coveted government graduate position and so began her working career. I chose to work not in industry but in our business. There, our paths began to diverge. But we were still in the same city, working similar hours so our friendship plodded along. We discussed our ideal jobs, dreamed about one day working for ourselves, and how we would juggle family and career.

Then Sydney called. And the bright lights of opportunity glittered and seduced my friend away to the southern city.  I don’t blame Abby for leaving Brisbane. It seems to be almost a right-of-passage for Gen Y graduates to seek better jobs and bigger possibilities from Brisbane’s southern cousins. Hell, there’s even a movie about it aptly titled “All my friends are leaving Brisbane“. The movie was pretty average but the theme was on the money.

Since Abby moved away we’ve kept in touch sporadically. Keeping up with the big events in each others lives – her job promotions and my growing family- but it’s not the same. As she said to me a few nights ago, our friendship got cut off at the wrong time: a victim of circumstance. And that made me sad. Because she is right. You don’t meet many people in your life that you really, genuinely ‘click’ with, but for me Abby is one of them. And yet our friendship has been relegated to intermittent emails and yearly visits and all the minutiae of each others lives are lost to time.

I do take heart, however, that perhaps one day life will find us once again in the same place, our friendship no longer a victim of circumstance.

Tell me, how do you continue the same friendship when you’re no longer in the same place? Does technology really replace actually being there?

Image from here.

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