Last month I read a beautifully written post by Kaye (Hello Archie & Blue) titled, To My Friends Without Kids.
I’m sorry it’s been 6 months since I last messaged you.
I’m sorry I missed the hen do’s and the housewarmings and the birthday parties.
Here’s the thing. I know, I know, you’re sick of hearing it.
But I have kids now…
It really hit home for me, and reading many of your posts this month, it seems Kaye and I are not as alone as we may sometimes feel. It appears that this is one of the downsides to being a ‘younger parent,’ – you’re often the first of your friends to have kids, which can be very lonely.
(Cue Bridget moment: all by myseeeeelf… only this time it’s not a hairbrush and a glass of red in our hands, but a half drunk bottle of expressed breast milk and an Organix carrot puff… And then maybe a glass of red as well…)
You’ve got a friend in me
But one (more positive) theme that shone bright like a diamond across so many posts was that becoming a parent shows you who your true friends are.
I (Finding Our Feet) wrote an open letter to my friends two years ago at 4am after another exhausting night with Little Miss (then Baby Girl), thanking them for their support despite not having a clue what I was going through. And Maddy (The Speed Bump) wrote a post promising that when it’s their turn to bake a bun in the oven, she’ll be on hand to impart advice – but only when it’s asked for! Similarly, Stephanie (Raising Emily) wrote a very honest post about pushing through her anxiety and how her best friend of around 20 years helped her do so while Jessica (Beauties and the Bibs) wrote about learning to let the fair-weather friends go and hold tight to her true friends.
But Chloe (Sorry About The Mess) shared a slightly different perspective, providing insight to the other side of the young parent experience. What happens once your friends-without-children start having children of their own – you know, with a family home, a marriage certificate and a plan in place – and the emotional rollercoaster you’re not expecting to hit all over again with their happy news.
I’ll get by (with a little help from my friends)…
It’s pretty safe to say that any new parent – of any age – would drown without friends. The stress, exhaustion, and insane amount of joy you feel at the tiniest of achievements (yes, my six month old babbling “muh muh muh muh” while looking at me and sucking on her own foot is 100% her first word! I have a child prodigy! … for example…) – it’s so much better when there’s someone there to share it with.
Even if you’re lucky enough to have friends with children when your bump becomes a baby, they may not necessarily be on leave at the same time as you and suddenly you’re lonely, starved of adult conversation and desperate for someone who understands.
But navigating the world of baby groups and stay and plays can feel a bit like your first day at school. Which group do you sit with? Which corner of the playground do you fit in?
We’ve talked about the stigma that can be attached to new younger parents in a previous Round-up, how some of the community have struggled to find a parent crowd they fit in with. Sarah (The Parenting Trials) wrote about this on her blog, and her struggle to find the golden chalice of parenthood – like-minded parent friends – those rare few you would have been friends with even if you’d met before you had children. And Gina (Skint Momma) posted a vlog about the difficulties of being a special needs mum and feeling like you aren’t able to join in with ‘normal’ parenting life.
Ain’t no mountain high enough… to keep me from getting to you!
But for bloggers, there is a third option – one of the major bonuses of our online community. Fellow parenting bloggers become like an extended online family and support network. And for many, the online and the real world collide and blur in spectacular fashion. Amy (My Mummy Spam) wrote a lovely post about exactly this:
We had been talking Twitter and Whatsapp for over a year after meeting through a mummy blogger Twitter chat, and to be honest, I probably talk to this gropu of girls more than I talk to any of my other friends… If it wasn’t for the fact that we are spread all over the country… I am sure we would be soft play and coffee date Mummas that would see each other quite a bit.
I’ll be there for yoooou…
Following her candid interview in Vanity Fair this month, 28 year old Adele has been quoted everywhere from Instagram captions to The Times. But she really did hit the nail on the head when she said:
I could just sit there and chat absolute mush with my friends who had children, and we wouldn’t judge each other. One day I said to a friend, ‘I fuckin’ hate this,’ and she just burst into tears and said, ‘I fuckin’ hate this, too.’ And it was done. It lifted.
Everyone needs that friend. Whether old, new, parent, childless or a blogger, find your person, jump around in a fountain for a bit and share your woes – parent related or otherwise – over a coffee in your local. And most importantly, never let them go.