I joke with my three best friends that we’ll all end up living in the same retirement village taking bus trips to Canberra together, but there was a long period when we each had young children and this wouldn’t have been the case.
You may have noticed with all the life changes that occurred when you became a mum, your circle of friends changed, too. Some friends may have been easy to farewell and others may have left a gap that still hasn’t been filled. Regaining lost friends is no easy task when there are one or more little ones involved, but it may be well worth the effort.
Because you’re worth it...
Practical considerations of travel and nap times aside, becoming a parent can make it difficult to stay in touch with old friends. New experiences and priorities, energy levels and schedules might mean that catch-ups are more frustrating than enjoyable, for both of you.
Whether a friendship survives parenthood involves a weighing up of the benefits, losses and effort required to maintain the relationship. When friends can’t adjust to the changes in your life or are too preoccupied with their own, you might find you naturally drift apart, but that doesn’t mean you can’t come together in the future. If your friend isn’t travelling the motherhood journey but can accept how life has changed for you and is supportive and patient, then she’s worth the effort. She’ll be great to connect with on the days you just want to be yourself for a while. And you can repay the favour if she follows you into motherhood.
Where to begin?
To rebuild a friendship, initiate something small, such as a Facebook message, email or text that says “I was thinking about you and wondering how you were.” If it’s reciprocated, you could suggest a coffee, then take it step by step, and see where it leads. Another way is to have an intentional conversation about your desire to get back in touch. Talk about the challenges of doing so and how she feels about the adjustments you might both need to make to keep the friendship alive. If she’s amenable, be prepared to readjust expectations of each other, be flexible and negotiate arrangements.
What if it doesn’t work?
People change with life experience and sometimes it’s just too hard to be friends again. Some friends meet a need we may have at the time and once that need is met, or met in another way (maybe through another friend) our desire to be attached to that person dries up. That’s okay. Many mums feel guilty about this, but part of maturing is understanding that what we want and need from friendships changes over time. One of the adjustments of motherhood is also having realistic expectations of ourselves. We just can’t do it all. It’s also okay for the same reasons if the other person isn’t keen on reconnecting. It doesn’t necessarily say anything about you, but more about what the other person might need in her life right now. Keep the lines of communication open, however, and things could change for one or both of you – and you may just end up on a bus trip together.