Having friends after having kids

I miss my friends.

In my twenties I had a really big group of friends. Some were closer, some less so, but they were all great friends. I imagined that getting married and having so many friends would mean opportunities for lots of shared experiences; for my kids to get to know their kids, parties, sleepovers and all the things good daydreams are made of.

What I never expected was that parenting would be so all-consuming. I probably should have known better, but as almost every parent discovers, you just don’t believe what it’s like until you’re in it. You don’t believe everything you’ve heard until you start to experience it yourself.

When we had one baby – even one who never, ever slept – we managed to still see friends. Not a lot, but there were still dinner parties and we invited each other to the kids’ birthday parties. We were still present in each other’s lives.

When our twins arrived, I started to drown. Don’t get me wrong, I love my kids, but 3 kids under 3 including a set of twins… life got hard really fast.

My support network quickly became the people I felt comfortable enough asking for help from - our parents and a couple of very close friends. I was happy to catch up with everyone else, but the likelihood of me coming up for air long enough to realize I hadn’t talked to them in forever (and at a time when I was near a phone) were slim to none.

I started to lose touch with people I knew before and started to find communities of people in exactly the same situation as me – people who could commiserate about sleepless nights, crying babies and not having a life. I knew my single or childless friends didn’t want to hear about my life, but I didn’t have much else to talk about. I didn’t have the energy to reach out and try.

My kids are nine and six now and I’m just starting to come up for air. I’m still tired and there always seems to be something going on, but I’m happily treading water and within reach of a floating dock. I have time to think about the friends I once loved and spent time with - those friendships that I let slide during the years of early parenthood.

And all that time to think brings up the Big Questions. Have too many years gone by for me to bring that friendship back to life? Do we have anything in common any more? Do they think I abandoned them because I didn’t like them or do they understand that it was just because I was concentrating so hard on keeping my own head above water?

I’m not sure what the answers are, and I don’t know what will come next. I just know that we now have the capacity to get a sitter and go out for dinner with friends. I even have the energy to have a conversation at the same time! I know that I’m getting closer to the point where I’m going to want to start hosting dinner parties again, and I have more and more to talk about that isn’t kid related.

I miss the friendships of my twenties, and hope that one day they may be re-kindled. Life as a parent has changed me far more than I ever expected, but to be honest, it's been for the better. I like who I am now, and I’m grateful for all the people who acted as my life preserver. My forties are right around the corner and I have no doubt a whole new adventure waits for me in that stage of my life too!

by Lara Wellman