Our friendships change as we grow older and for a long period the friendship circles we form are superficial. During this period we become self-consumed and base our friendship circles on a particular need. This could range from similar interests, popularity, study circles and boyfriends. The next major friendships we make in our lives are when we become mothers. Why is this? The same attachment we seek as young children we pursue again as mothers.
Here I will discuss the following:
- Why mother friendships are important;
- Different types of friendships in adulthood and why you cannot just have one friend
Those of you who knew me growing up know that not much has changed when it comes to friendships. I always had my unwavering friendships based on unconditional support and steadfast love. When it came to school I moved around so often I did not have the opportunity to anchor myself into a particular group and for that I am grateful. I was known as the “floater”. I did not belong to a clique and instead befriended everyone from the nerds to the jocks and the faddish to the invisible.
When I started my first relationship with my now husband, it made the transition that much easier because the time he took did not threaten any of my friendships and the way he immersed himself in his work then assisted greatly, too. The downside? Twenty-one years, two children later he still plunges deep into the abyss of work and my childhood friend no longer fortifies me.
Again this has been an opportunity to merge with women seeking the same needs and going through the same phase of their life. When you are a little girl you, play house and cannot wait to meet your knight in shining armour, get whisked away, betrothed, have that fairytale wedding, have many babies and live happily ever after.
As much as I desperately love my husband and children and would redo everything the same to have them in my life, this is a façade girls fall for constantly and all it does is set them up for disappointment.
This is why our adult girl friendships are so important. If we are feeling down and insecure about ourselves, untrusting, depressed and needy, you turn to your mommy friends. Why? They are 99 percent likely to be feeling the same way and your neediness toward your husband will most likely exacerbate your sense of insecurity when he thinks you are being high maintenance.
Fellow mommies, they don’t mean to be insensitive they are just not wired like us. Think back to your childhood. Boy friendships always appeared easier and more fun. They fought and moved on, no mess, no fuss.
Girls always had issues, tears and tissues. Boy, am I glad I have boys. On the upside of the complicated hormones, deep hurt and malevolence it proves that our friendships have the element of emotion. This trait allows us to get hurt, yes, but also permits us to form authentic relationships throughout our adult life.
This brings me to my first point: why mommy friendships are so important.
Before I offend anyone, please know that I am not saying that other friendships are not important because this is certainly not the case. Other friendships will be discussed later but for now our mommy ones.
Let’s face it, ladies, while it is difficult to have the financial responsibility of being the provider, nothing else changes for them when becoming a parent.
They have the nights of ecstasy in the “making” process and we have the hormones, the weight gain, the aching breasts, the cravings, the moods, the tears, the insecurity, the guilt, the fear, the nausea, the pain of labour, the exhibitionism of childbirth, our once sexually alluring bosoms become cow bags of nutrition which are tweaked by every nurse on the maternity floor. The feeds, the screams, and the lonely maternity months.
Just when you think the difficult phase has passed, you have the schools, the extra murals, the friendships, the homework and your earlier experience of post baby blues has resurfaced when you see your children experiencing pain either physically or emotionally.
Whether you are working or staying at home, your emotional bond as a mother is the most devastatingly beautiful mix of turbulent sensations.
You can lean on your husband for support, yes, but when it comes to dissecting it all, it is your mommy friends who you turn to because they can relate. They boost me when I am down, they reassure me when I am uncertain, and they listen, laugh and totally get it. It is the girl power we experienced in childhood on steroids and if you have these friendships you are truly lucky. This is why:
- It is comforting to know that you fed your child noodles because you were too tired to cook supper.
- Routine is sometimes bludgeoned and replaced with co-sleeping so you can get an early night.
- Visits to the pantry cupboard or loo are sometimes used for a peaceful three-minute escape and cry.
- You consider apples and cucumber “green vegetables” since you are not prepared to keep fighting the “eat your greens” fight.
- Never mind the apple a day theory a glass of wine keeps the mommy feeling fine.
- Ponytails, loud music and pillow talk are the adult version of Barbie’s.
- Sometimes you don’t want to talk about things in your life and whether or not your child’s bowel habits are regular. Sometimes you want to be the teen who has no responsibilities, and for that reason, you have other friendships, too.
- The work friend: who you can relate to, turn to, be a pillar to in return when the heat is turned up and the politics is rife in the office.
- The male friend: who puts things into an unemotional perspective for you and gives you good advice, so you can be a magnet for your hubby at home.
- The single friend: who makes you feel young again when things seem overwhelming and mundane.
At the end of the day, friendships are not a want in our lives but provide us with a need.
Some friends will leave you, some will need you when it suits them, some will be lifelong but it’s the friends who walk into your life, see you at your darkest and most non-reciprocal times, recognise your worth and make it known and, most of all, never walk out no matter what because true friendship is worth fighting for.
Only when you reach a certain age or stage in your life do you appreciate these friends and I am not only lucky to be one but to have them.
* Koetser is a qualified remedial therapist with more than 10 years’experience.