Maintaining friendships in parenthood

There’s many things I’m passionate about in life: equality, giving rather than taking, mayonnaise is better on chips than tomato sauce, you can’t shave your legs everyday cause it hurts etc. etc. those types of really serious things. But one thing I’m extremely passionate about is my friends and caring for those who I love.

I LOVE to love. I love to care for people. I love to do things for people that they would never expect, without asking for a single thing back. That’s just me and it gives me great pleasure in life. It’s a trait I’ve always had and I’m confident I’ll live with for the rest of my life.

I LOVE my friends. I’m very lucky to still have my solid girlfriends from year 7. I’m also blessed to have picked up so many gems along the way – whether it be work related, sporting related, heck – even social media related! I fall in love hard and I fall in love quickly – not just in relationships, but in friendships too.

But do we find that maintaining these friendships we all have in our lives proves to be extremely difficult the more adult we become?

Just like any relationship, friendships need work. They need commitment, they need dedication and most importantly – they need effort.

Adult friendships are hard, but does that make us bad friends?

What I think I’ve found, and yes partly because I have kids and yes, partly not, is that the older we (my friends and I) get, the busier we become. The older we get, the more chaotic life becomes. And the older we get, the harder it is to stay on top of things with each other. Long gone are the days we are at university 3 days a week and working casually in a café on a Saturday. We’ve also kissed goodbye the days of minimal responsibility. Now we need a whole day to commit to cleaning your house, to dropping the kids off at sport and parties, to see your fertility specialist, to stay at home for the entire weekend waiting for the electrician to come. We have bills, and jobs and responsibilities that exist in a different world to your friendships.

Currently in my close friendship circle we have me running amok across my multiple businesses, with a husband that has returned to work 6 days a week and together we are both trying to juggle raising two kids. There’s my friend who is 24 weeks pregnant rushing to renovate a house before her baby comes. Another friend who just recently got married, working a huge PR job and seeking a career change by studying another course on the side. And lastly, our gorgeous friend on daily dialysis as she awaits an urgent kidney transplant, who’s partner is also recovering from a serious road accident. Hey, just to name a few!

Despite all our chaotic lives, our friendships remain solid. Does that mean we speak multiple times a week and catch up every weekend for breakfast? Absolutely not. Does this mean that weeks – sometimes a month or two – can go past without seeing each other despite all living within 10 minutes of each other? Sure. Is it more so me, the one with kids that the amount of time between each catch up goes the longest? Absolutely.

When I reflect, I think this is something I struggled with after having Bobby. My friends were great, but you still undergo many life changes when you become a mother that are out of your control. Not being invited places because of the misunderstanding that you wouldn’t come anyway. Alternatively, being invited somewhere and you either couldn’t go, or quite simply, didn’t want to go.

And now… the most obvious statement of the century; having kids makes socialising with friends difficult. Shock factor…0! Adult friendships require work even in our regular, time-poor days. Chuck a few kids in there, and now you’re more screwed for that time.

When I do see my friends, and the topic of ‘kids’ arises and what funny things Bobby is up to this week, I always try to make a conscious effort to ask about my girlfriends and what’s going on in their lives, too. I think there was a point there a few years ago where I’d get a little disgruntled that friends wouldn’t ask me things in return about what’s happening in my life – until I hit the realisation that everything I do I put on the internet so they already knew everything that was happening. In saying that, it’s still always night to have someone ask about your life, hence why I am so invested into my friends.

I also think because I had Bobby at a young age, I took a lot of things more personally. In comparison to now having Florence at an older age, I understand the notion that people need you and want you at different stages of their lives, as you do them. It doesn’t mean you’re no longer ‘friends’, it simply means that due to your life circumstances, there perhaps isn’t the common ground that existed before. That isn’t to say the common ground won’t come back, which I have too experienced with friends who have come back into my world who are now in a similar phase of life to me.

I find that friends now who have babies begin to gravitate towards me quicker. I also find I gravitate very quickly towards friends with similar hobby interest’s a.k.a football. I’ve quickly become very close with girls in my local footy team because (despite them being 22 years old and I’m a mum) we have common ground. Despite being at different stages of our lives, we have common interests. We have something to talk about and we enjoy doing something together.

Different stages of life equal different needs. While I’m not suggesting shutting off older friendships that have temporarily lost that common ground, I am highlighting the importance of learning to recognize a relationship that doesn’t fulfil you anymore in one way, shape or form. Learning to let go is a powerful tool, and despite not being easy, it’s something each and every single one of us has had to experience at a point in time.

Having even one close friend as an adult can have an overwhelmingly positive impact on our emotional & physical well-being. In contrast, having one toxic “friendship” in your life can negatively impact your self-esteem, mental health and overall quality of life.

I think as adults in friendships, we are often struck by the disconnect between the idea we have about what our friendships should be like and the reality of what adult friendships actually are.  I think it’s important to learn as an adult that one person doesn’t have to meet all our friendship expectations. Just like we attempt to make any relationship work, whether it be intimate, work related or a girlfriend – it is rare that these types of relationships are reciprocated in the exact way that we would like. This is where as an adult I’ve learnt you cannot take this personally. I go back to my earlier point, maintaining adult relationships can be hard, but that doesn’t make us bad friends.

Not all friendships will built to last. People will hurt us, and we will hurt others. Understanding that the friends who are meant to stick around, will do so. These are the forgiving people who will stick by us through the good, the bad, the sleep deprived, the overworked, and the time-poor brain fog.

Through parenthood and growing older, I have learned to surround yourself with beautiful and positive people. The ones who get you and the ones that believe in you. Fight for the ones worth fighting for. Value the ones who value you. The ‘I may not always be there with you, but I will always be there for you’ type. And don’t ever stop working for them.

Written by Sophie Cachia

Please note that these experiences are personal and may not be relatable to each reader. It is one individual’s perspective. We ask that people refrain from any negative commentary directed to others or the individual. We respect that each person has their own opinion and we encourage feedback but please ensure it isn’t delivered in a hurtful manner. Any derogatory or highly aggressive statements will be removed and anyone who is trolling will automatically be blocked from participating in this forum.