When I was pregnant, I was often told that on becoming a parent I would lose three things that I had formerly taken for granted: my waist, my sleep and my friends.
My waist has slowly made a post-baby return. Sleep is our friend once again. And my friends? Well, they’re still around too. More than ever in fact.
22 months after becoming a mother, friends still form an important part of my life. Whether it’s a chat on the phone, an afternoon cup of tea or a night out dancing and drinking wine, my relationships with friends are just as strong now as they ever were before I was a mother. In some cases, they’re stronger.
The myth that having children makes you lose your friends is one that is, I think, propogated by people who either didn’t have very good friends in the first place, or weren’t – shock horror – very good friends themselves. These people tend to delight in passing down the wisdom that a social life with anyone other than a spouse or family member becomes extinct once the bouncing baby makes an appearance.
What a load of old tosh.
Granted, having a baby does limit your opportunities for dancing on tables every Friday and Saturday night. Unless you have a) a very good babysitter, b) a creche in your local nightspot or c) a huge yearning to squeeze a pair of breast pads into a low-cut LBD, then nights out with a newborn are likely to be few and far between.
But that doesn’t mean they’ll NEVER happen ever again.
Being a parent doesn’t mean you have to swap all your pre-baby friends for post-baby ones, only to associate with other sleep-deprived mums at the local baby and toddler group.
My first evening out with friends – minus the baby – happened when said baby was around 9 months old. Prior to this, a night out consisited of a trip down the end of the garden to put the bins out, or a hastily snatched half in the pub over the road, combined with constant panicky texts to the babysitter checking if my boob-loving daughter had woken for milk.
But I didn’t hibernate for 9 months, only conversing with friends via photos of my offspring on Facebook. Nope. Instead we all made an effort. My friends made an effort to get on a train and venture out to our village in the sticks. And I made an effort to bundle the baby and all the related paraphenalia into the car on the occasional jaunt to their place. Or, sometimes, I’d clear enough muslin cloths off the sofa for a guest to sit down and I’d cook that “guest” (read: friend) something nice.
The thing is, all this talk of, “Your social life goes out the window when you’re a parent” and, “Forget any friends you have who aren’t parents” is a lot of rubbish when you think about it. Because if friends are that easy to lose, then they were never real friends in the first place.
I was the first amongst my group of friends to have a baby. I’m still the only parent amongst us. But they have shared everything with me. They’ve developed a relationship with Frog. They’ve asked all the necessary sleep and milk related questions. And then we’ve got on with it, back to what we do best. Talking, drinking wine, dancing, joking, eating, talking more, drinking more wine, dancing a bit more and eating yet again.
These are my friends. They’re part of my life. My life is now different, but my real friends – the ones I care about and love – they are here to stay.