I have a small eclectic group of friends that have been gathered from different times throughout my life – family, school, work, marriage, becoming a parent. And I truly believe some friends are around for the long term and others come in and out of your life. Many people you meet during school or work are friends for the purpose and time and when you move on and no longer have that in common the friendship has run its course.
It is always so much harder for adults, or even older children, to make friends than young children. My youngest used to have a new best friend every time he went to the playground when he was little. And when we moved into our current house he made friends with the boys across the road on day one and they are still going strong two years later.
But how do you know, as an adult, when some friendships have run their course? Especially if you are the one who normally reaches out, makes contact, organises get togethers. When circumstances change in your lives – work schedules, children’s activities, kids with health issues – how do you know if it is life getting in the way or the change of the type of friendship?
In many of my friendships I naturally take on the role of organiser, have for many years. But over the last couple of years I have seen a change in a couple of friendships where I feel like maybe it is just me trying to hold on to what was so important in the past. As I reach out less due to circumstances, I also get frustrated at them not reaching out more. But is that fair given the role I have taken in the past? I also worry that maybe they just don’t want to hear about the issues that have consumed my life over that time anymore. and while I am in a better place these days and more accepting of what my new normal is, it is still my new normal and therefore the main topic of many conversations.
So how do you know? And do you just confront them and talk about it or ride the waves and see where they lead? I am not sure I have the answer to that yet and possibly it is different with each friend. My oldest friend (nearly 30 years since we met) and I can be honest and bring it up, with others I am just not so sure.
One thing I do know is that it is not see easy to make new friends as you get older. maybe tomorrow I should go to a coffee shop, start talking to someone and announce that she is my new friend…..it works for five year olds!!
Today I had breakfast with a friend who I used to work with. We haven’t worked together for many years and lost touch for a little while but are back in touch now. We understand each other, get along really well and catch up every couple of months for breakfast. Seeing her today made me realise this has been a year of reconnection for me.
Technically I have back in touch with this friend for more than a year but it is the last year or so where we have regularly caught up. We are very similar and have similar views and opinions so our breakfast is full of constant chatter, laughter and understanding.
I have also written previously about reconnecting with someone from high school who I hadn’t seen for 18 years. While we have only managed one face to face catch up so far there have been many texts and a few phone chats that feel like when we talked all those years ago. Hopefully he agrees as he follows my blog!
And then a couple of weeks ago I had a fantastic night out with four ladies I worked with when I first started working at my current company 18 years ago. Two of these ladies I hadn’t seen for over ten years. As we caught up over drinks and dinner, followed by more drinks and dancing it was just like old times and not one part of the night was awkward.
All of these reconnections have been amazing and it makes me reflect on how much I have missed having these people in my life. So what makes them amazing? It is that our friendship is easy, and that I can 100% be myself with all of these people. No games, no pretending and no judgement. Whether it has been one month, one year or 18 years we are still there for each other in a friendship that goes both ways.
As an adult and a parent life gets so busy and it becomes so easy to drift apart, but when you find a true friend and support it is worth the time and effort. Even if sometimes it is just a quick check in to say “hey, how are you?”
Earlier this week it was my birthday. Not a milestone one, that was last year, and so like most years I kept it pretty low key. I don’t like a big fuss made at work and now that I am single, and my boys still young, even at home the celebrations are pretty short lived. I’m thinking back to Mother’s Day this year when the boys spoilt me until about 10am before it turned back in to “Mum I need…”
So my plan had been quiet day at work try and sneak off for one train earlier and pick up the boys and fish and chips so I didn’t have to cook. I knew the boys knew about my birthday and, even though their dad had told them it was one day earlier than it actually was, that they had gone present shopping with him. The presents were hidden in the pants drawer – a poorly kept secret given I had been told not to go there.
On the morning of my birthday I woke up early got ready for work and woke the boys. They got ready to leave and it was evident that they had forgotten. Given it was 6am and they have limited time to get ready I wasn’t going to drop hints. Then on the train my friend had also forgotten. My low key birthday was turning into a non existent one.
Then three beautiful friends turned my whole day around and made me smile, as well as wipe away a couple of sneaky tears.
My friend at work contacted me and took me out to lunch, as well as giving me a very thoughtful present. And another friend and her husband booked dinner at the local pub for our two families because they believed it was wrong for me to sit at home alone on my birthday, especially after a crappy start. This is probably where I should mention it was the friend who forgot earlier on the train!
It was a great dinner full of laughter and stories, good food and a glass of wine.
By the way my children had remembered by the time I picked them up from after school care. They had made apology cards and made a big fuss.
And my moral for the day…you don’t need a big fancy celebration for your birthday but it is important to make the day feel special. And sometimes all that takes is three beautiful friends who think you are worth the effort.
Some days I have mixed feelings about social media. It can be a good/bad time waster, paint a picture of how people want you to see their life, a way to keep in touch with people who are not close by and, especially for me at the moment, be a great way to join forums and support groups. One of my closest friends says that she can tell when I am doing it tough as I retreat from all forms of social media and “hide” from the world.
Recently I have used social media to get back in contact with someone I went to school with and haven’t seen since a friends wedding 18 years ago. We have been corresponding with each other by text and phone for the last few months and yesterday we met for a coffee. Even though I was nervous after so many years it was easy and comfortable – with some friends it just doesn’t seem to matter how long you have been apart you can just reconnect.
So I guess I can add another point to the pro side of my social media list (keeping in mind I am listed by my married name so school friends will have to wait until I contact them!!)