June 15, 2024

Friendship Thoughts

I've been thinking a lot about friendship recently and figured I could jot my half formed thoughts here.  Some of this comes after listening to an interview with the author of Modern Friendship.

(These two are pretty good friends)

For being someone without WhatsApp and without group text and without facebook or instagram or social medias I feel I have a pretty good friend group.  But I also feel like I'm falling out of the loop with many of my friends.  I am aware already that my net is too wide... In a perfect world I have at least 20 local people who I would love to see more and continue to call friends.  Obviously I don't have room for 20 close friends.

I also know that having babies put you "back" a step into baby stage.  Having twins is even harder.  With one baby you can strap them on your back and follow your big kids around.  You can feed on the go.  You can throw nap schedules to the wind if needed.  I did this with Lilah, and it was fine, although with Covid it mostly meant I was waiting in line with her or freezing outside on a patio. [Not fun fact: Lilah did not go into another humans house until she was 6 months old.  Not because we were cautious, but because Wales had some of the strictest covid laws in the world.  We were legally banned from entering another person's home from March 2020 until sometime Summer 2021]

That was a tangent.  My point there was, I can't just join my friends with 5 year olds right now and plop a baby along.  I am embedded into baby schedules, because half my children are now infants.  That wasn't the original plan.  So while my friends are getting out and about, to museums and hour drive away adventures, I am still in the "hey do you want to play in my garden?" phase.

Playing in gardens is great. But most of my friends who finished the baby stage a few years ago are now over the "play in my garden" phase.

I know I need to be patient, the twins will be done feeding soon and I will be out and about again in a few months. Unfortunately, I always have the fear that everyone will find new friends while I'm being patient.  On the other hand, I've made some great new friends in the last few years, and those friends obviously had other friends, so my fear is probably unfounded.

One of the topics of the Modern Friendship book is that friendship bids (asking people to do stuff or be your friend) need a "why"

Not just "do you want to come over" but "do you want to bring your kids over for a Halloween craft day" or "do you want to meet me for a walk up a hill".

Little kids give an easy why "do you want to run your two year old around in my garden until nap time" is perfectly acceptable. 

A five year old parent is less interested in that bid.  Why make the trek to my house so a five year old can play with my son's trains? A five year old probably has their own trains.  A five year old can go to a theme park a few hours away.  A five year old can entertain themselves at home while mom gets some desperately needed alone/down time, or just gets some things done in the house.  

My Gym buddy Geraint - who I have seen for nearly 15 years almost weekly when not having babies or living in the US - is my friend because we both love fitness and we both live by our schedules.  It is a perfect combination.  We also have lots of other things in common, but if we didn't have the basic "we will make our calendars line up" and "we like going to the gym" then we may not have lasted.  We have both acknowledged this.  It doesn't make us bad friends, it makes us great friends.

Also, I know not being on Whatsapp makes my experience slightly different.  However I still don't think whatsapp filled a friendship void.  I think WhatsApp kept me from noticing a friendship void.  Do I want more texts? Not really.  Do I want to see people in person? Very much yes. 

    Some thoughts about my current friendship state.

    • I have a SAHM friend who comes for walks with me weekly and I need to tell her how much I appreciate these walks.  We struggle to get together often when I'm in work but maternity leave means this person plays such a HUGE role in my life
    • I currently miss my writing buddy but I can't stay awake in the evenings now because baby sleep is terrible.  How can I get that friend back in my life not at 8pm?
    • I miss my pilates buddy but I can't do a 10:30am class due to baby feeds.  Figure out a way to get them back in my life.
    • I would love a scheduled get together with different friend groups every few months but I don't think other people work like that.  Could I make it work eventually?  Perhaps we (moms of 5 year olds) are all a bit *too* close to the baby stage to realise will probably drift without anchor events? 
    Some Ideas:
    • Make a list of little adventures and possible friends to go on these adventures.  Realise these adventures may not happen this summer.  But if a time opens up on a weekend I can be ready with a a social bid.
    • Plan/consider the babies first birthday/pumpkin carving party, so I have a large event to look forward to and also reconnect with friends I haven't seen much since the twins were born.
    • I still want to start a professional women's development book club.  Or potentially eventually a parenting book club.  Possibly when the twins are two years old
    Note to self: Time moves so differently on Maternity leave.  I have 7 days a week of time to fill.  When in work I have 2 or 3 days a week to fill.  So even with the same number of play dates and social interactions as working people, I will feel like I am not seeing people due to the volume of time I have to feel.

    I don't really have a takeaway here, expect that I'm probably doing pretty well for a person with so many children, and I probably need to be patient.  And, in writing that, it's really the takeaway for literally every part of my life right now. 

    Do you think about you friendship groups a lot?  Do you wish you had more friends?  I would love to hear your thoughts on friendship too!  


    1. The good friends will always be there but for sure the nature of the friendships changes as time goes by. Our sweet spot was probably when the kids were 5-10 years old when it was still quite easy to meet up with friends with kids of the same age. Now in the tweenbie stage, parents are busy being taxis and social managers, dealing with everything else that comes with that stage. Plus, many probably have aging family members to consider as well. So In some ways it feels like being back in the baby stage with your schedule being dictated by your babies. I do appreciate the friends who try to fix outings and meet ups though, even if I can’t always manage I go when I can.
      I don’t remember if you’re on what’s app but if you have a group of friends in the village, and maybe you’re going for a walk or to the playground you could just post and let people know you’re out and vice versa and meet up if you can. This avoids the need to schedule or feel obligated to go.

      1. Thanks for the comment! I think I'm just already feeling nostalgic for the time I was in last year, and I can see that some of my friendships will naturally evolve now or potentially disappear. I'm glad to hear 5-10 years old was a sweet spot for you, I can definitely see life getting busier for everyone already. I had a very good group of friends from the Nursery and we are all done there now, which makes me think about how quickly the social scene can change.

        You raise a really good point about aging family members. That definitely takes time too.

    2. This is going to sound very sad because I am absolutely not a lonely person but I technically have zero friends that are local (as in, within a 10 mile radius) and don't have anybody to meet spontaneously for a walk/run or coffee. People that I have befriended here in the past, eventually moved away... so I feel like I've been on a constant search for local friendships (and I haven't put much effort in recently).
      All my closest friends live far away, even my blogging friends - who I feel close to - are not close enough to meet up with. I have tons of meaningful interactions with friends every week, but none of them are in person. I have to do something about this.

      I think you're doing pretty damn for the season of life you are in (and you have plans to expand your friend interactions when your kids are older).

      1. I don't think it's sad - it actually made me realise that part of the reason I'm thinking so much about this is that when I'm not in work my social sphere can get really really small. Even just minor interactions with people professionally help keep me grounded in a way that sitting at home with babies all day does not.

        Also, I recently started the Peleton app (not the bike sadly) and I can see that it would be a HUGE social plus if I could do the rides/classes with other people.

        And also, part of the reason we moved back to Wales was to be closer to friends - I think our life would be way different in the US and the community thing would have changed. Right before we left Portland two of our best friends left. If we stayed we may have just one friend set of friends left.

        Also, it is just hard to make new friends. Especially in busy times... and kid-free times *are* busy. I think it was harder for me and Andy to make friends when we didn't have kids than when we do, because at least now all of us have to entertain our kids, whereas before it felt like we were competing to be the coolest option among a series of cool options.

      2. Well I guess it would have been quality not quantity in Portland. 😛😉 -Kat

    3. I read about a neighborhood once where women just wandered in and out of each other's homes (I am not sure if the men did this - maybe with garages? this makes me sound so sexist and gender normative) and they didn't judge each other's houses for the messes or piles of laundry everywhere. They just sat down and started talking to one another/helping with chores while the person whose house it was just kept doing whatever they were doing (dishes, laundry, cooking, etc.). I thought that sounded lovely and realized that modern life does not allow for this type of friendship. Imagine someone just walking into your house while you were feeding the babies and folding laundry or helping you do the dishes. On one hand, that would be great. On the other hand, they'd be walking into your house!


    4. Like San above, there isn't a single person who I can spontaneously go for a walk with or grab coffee.

      I don't really think a lot about friend groups. I have my very tight-knit group of sister friends: but it's only 4 of us.
      My mom group is quite big - about 10 ladies. All very nice, but the engagement varies. Some chat all the time (WhatsApp), others only check in once in a while. We used to get together when babies were small, and now that we all have 3,4,5 and even 6 year olds, we don't meet at all.
      I had a thing back in the day called "Mom Power Hour" where come whoever comes, the kids play and we read or do work, or chat. But i was very clear that small talk is optional- if you want to come and sit and listen to your audio book- perfectly fine. Play dates can only be fun for me if I don't have to make small talk.

    5. All of my close friends have moved away. I also do not have anyone I can go for a walk with, or to get a cup of coffee. I have a good friend who lives a little over an hour away, and I see her 3-5 times a year. I have a woman that I used to work with that I like, and we have lunch maybe once every year or two. I have some friends from my college job, which I left 30 years ago, and we get together a couple of times a year. That's it. So most of my friendships are via text these days. Which is sad, but I haven't tried to make any new friends, so there's that. I work from home, which means I don't even see my coworkers or talk to anyone on a daily basis (except my husband and daughter).