As a mum you are likely to be in one of two camps. Either juggling multiple friendships and struggling to find time to see all of your friends or feeling really lonely and unsure about how to make friendships that you so desperately need. This post is for the first group.
For those of you with lots of friends, some great, some a bit ‘meh’ how do you make sure you are being the best friend that you can be? And if being that sort of friend takes up more time than you have and it’s making you feel a little stressed how can you figure out which friendships are worth the time and which ones aren’t? Then – the hardest part – when you decide that a relationship you have with a fellow Mum isn’t actually doing either of you any good – how do you handle that?
It seems to me that the hardest thing about maintaining friendships with women is that no matter how hard you try as a girl… jealousy, inferiority, the inevitable need to compare and compete… they all rear their ugly heads from time to time. If you have multiple demands on your time (which let’s be honest almost all of us do) then any time you spend on a friendship that’s toxic, one sided, lacking in trust or simply not benefiting either party is time that you could be spending with your family or on yourself.
But before you start culling your contacts it’s worth considering a few things.
Perhaps most importantly are you being a good friend?
Don’t judge someone else on what they are putting in to a friendship if you know deep down that you’ve been pretty shit your end too. Actually with a relationship where both of you are being as crap as each other often the very best thing you can do is acknowledge this head on in a frank discussion – chances are cooling but not culling this friendship will suit you both very well. I have friends who I was really close to when we both had little children the same age – then the kids grew up and the frequency of our get togethers was harder to maintain. Now.. we text every few months, meet maybe once a year and it’s brilliant as we have so much to catch up on and neither of us is judging the other for being a bad mate.
Think about your Mum and the close friends she had when you were a little girl – chances are she doesn’t see these women all the time now? This sort of relationship evolves and that’s completely normal.
Some girls however haven’t matured since the play ground days. If one of your friends is constantly bitching about another of your friends – chances are she’s bitching about you too. Often when this happens you find yourself going along with it and then on reflection see that spending time with that person is turning you into a bit of a mean girl too.
When you’re in your twenties, thirties or forties you don’t need this in your life and you don’t need to create a drama about it – – just call time on that friendship, it can be a big relief. There will probably be repercussions – a passive aggressive Facebook post here, an untrue rumour there and though for a time it can feel like you are in the playground, have a good cry, hold your head high, maintain a dignified silence in public (and on social media) and remember that it will pass and that you’ve done the right thing.
True friends celebrate your accomplishments, forgive you for forgetting birthdays, listen more than they speak, and know when their opinions won’t be helpful. But remember that has to work both ways so make sure you’re not vomiting out all your woes before asking ‘how are you?’ over your next girly catch up. If you both listen more than you speak you may be concerned that there will be some awkward silences in your conversations… fear not – with your real friends this time is always filled with laughter.
When you are struggling to be a great mum, a great wife or partner, daughter, sister, employee, employer, MumBoss… don’t waste what precious time you have with people who make you feel bad about yourself. On or offline. It’s as simple as that.