I'm a member of a lovely group of bloggers over on facebook, and yesterday a really interesting conversation came up about how peoples' friendships and relationships changed, for better or worse, after they had kids. It got me thinking about the impact the kids have had on our own life, how they've influenced friendships, how things have changed.
I think for us, there were initially two big factors at play. The first was that when D was born, we were heading into uncharted territory as none of our friends had kids at that stage. Also, we were almost in limbo in terms of having people around is - I've mentioned before that we knew very few people where we live when D was born, and old friends on whom I would previously have relied for support were simply physically too far away. And then there was the whole pnd aspect to boot, so it was all a little tricky.
But. Fast forward 6 years, and what a difference!! Along with all the other changes kids bring to your life (some of which are fabulously documented by fellow blogger Office Mum), they are an amazing ice breaker. I really noticed it when D was 3, and M was still tiny. Venturing out the front for a while with them, and taking some tentative steps across the green to chat to other mams doing the same thing. Finding common ground. Being really brave and inviting someone over for a cuppa. Supporting each other through the haze of exhaustion, understanding how frustrating and occasionally heartbreakingly lonely it can be to be at home all day with young kids. Being so happy to just sit and chat and enjoy adult conversation while the kids entertained each other. Getting to know people better.
I have some wonderful people in my life now, and to be honest, I'm hard pushed to think of any of them that I haven't in some way met via the kids - be it out on the green, at the toddler group, or through the school. So yes, kids changed my friendships - they gave me a whole set of new ones, and despite the distance, I've held on to the old ones.
More and more this last few years I've come to realise just how important it is to have people in your life you can rely on - from the drop of milk when the shop is closed, to partners in crazy when you want to dance and no one else does - friends make a huge, huge difference. Depression threatened that, and made it so much harder - for a long time it made me retreat instead of asking for help. Not any more. Everyone knows. Some days are bad, but the gap between them is growing. No one (as yet anyway) has run screaming when they see me coming. I'm going to go ahead and take that as a good sign. Turns out I might actually be a half decent person after all.
Labels: children, connection, empathy, friends, relationship, support