Before I became a parent, I heard on more than one occasion how difficult it was to maintain friendships once you have children. You would watch in TV shows or hear from others that the last thing you feel like doing after a day filled with high energy children is get on the phone and talk for 30 minutes. Afterall, you’ve been talking (mostly what feels like to yourself and using the words no, stop, and wait a lot) all day and now that the kids are in bed, you just want to sit. In silence. Maybe you can’t even sit because now it’s time to clean up the play mess and the kitchen and make lunch for tomorrow before you go to bed at 9pm.
This is what I heard. I did not understand how this could be true. How could you, after a day of being with children, not want to have some adult conversation with a good friend and rant about whatever gossip seems important that day? How could you not want to talk with your friends who you’ve spoken with weekly for years now just because you are a parent? It made no sense. Then I became a mother.
I’m lucky enough to have really wonderful friends. Friends I met in high school, college, and since who know me in ways others will never be able to. The friends you matured with and who have seen you do some really ridiculous things. I love and adore them and miss them terribly. When I do get a chance to visit them, it’s like no time passed at all. This is a rarity and I know it. But talking on the phone and maintaining regular communications in a way that makes me feel like I know what is going on in their lives has been incredibly difficult lately.
Many of my friends still do not have children and so I worry that they do not understand, or even if they do, are not feeling like they can talk to me about anything at any time. I am difficult to get a hold of and schedules never seem to align for a phone call. On many evenings after I’ve put Aedan to bed, I’m either cleaning up and preparing for tomorrow or too tired to even do that and so just sit and do nothing until my husband gets home and we get an hour together before bed. This time of doing nothing is important for me.
The thing is, I want to be the friend who can still keep up the weekly calls and know what is going on in her friends’ lives. I want to be filled with energy and able to stay on the phone for an hour just talking. I need this too. And on some nights on some weeks, the day allows me to be this friend and it feels really good. I just fear there aren’t enough of those days. For me, for them, and for our friendship.
I know I’m not the only mom who feels this way. Relationships of any kind are difficult to maintain when in the midst of parenting young children. So what do you do?
I’m hoping that our years of friendship will ride the tides of these waves and bring us back eventually to a place where weekly phone calls filled with energy and gossip are our norm. But in the meantime, I hope they know how much they are still a part of my life, even if it doesn’t appear so.