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Friends in the trenches

 
Some friends vanish when you become a parent, but the best ones stay.
Cath Jenkin
By Cath Jenkin

Pic: Diane Cassells

Article originally in Parent24
I was the first in my group of close friends to fall pregnant. It was a strange, almost ethereal feeling that I thought nobody around me could relate to. I was, at that time, the quintessential early twenties girl. Bounding into independence, focused on her career and able to stay out, dancing the night away with friends.

Shocked by pregnancy announcement

When I announced my pregnancy via SMS to my closest friends, a strange thing happened - I instantly lost half of them. My best friend almost fainted and then cried with joy. Some “friends” went into hiding and lost my number but the true friends stuck around. As an unmarried mother to be, I felt judged and much maligned on a regular basis.

I didn’t have a marvelously easy time being pregnant. The pregnancy itself was a typical, worry-free experience but life, as I knew it, crashed around me. My dad was diagnosed with terminal cancer, we had to move houses, my mom retreated into depression and I focused on “just getting through this”.

By the time my daughter was born on a rainy night, I knew exactly who my friends were. Strangely, they were the ones “in my phone”. They were the ones who sat waiting, on tenterhooks, to receive the SMS that said, “she’s here!”

Real friends adapt

Even as I stayed in survival mode during that first year of motherhood, during which time I lost my dad and my grasp on life beyond my bedroom, they stuck with me. My friends in the phone would appear in my doorway, bringing gifts or a giggle. When I battled to get through my first workday after my maternity leave ended, the emails I received from friends buoyed me.

As the years have gone by and my daughter’s grown, I’ve realised more and more that real friends are the ones who accept me as a “package deal”. They don’t tell me to “get a babysitter and come out”. They don’t wait for me to “be kid-free” to meet up. They welcome the entertainment a seven-year old can bring and they are the soft life cushions I’ve leant on many times. As life progresses, many of them have also become parents along the way and we’re more often found on playdates together, rather than on the dancefloor.

An army of parents


I’ve also been lucky enough to find mama friends along the way through the Internet, social media and blogging. Writing my way through my child’s baby years and researching everything became my way of coping, and through it I found a variety of souls with whom I just connected. I’ve found soul sisters, proud fellow mamas and dads who inspire me. I’ve learnt more about myself through them than I would on any self-help course. They’ve soothed my fears, shared my worries and helped me through the lonely nights of single parenting. They’ve guided me, celebrated with me and kept me sane during the times when I thought I was losing my mind.

My parent friends are my friends in the trenches. They’re the ones who will go to war with me against the boogeyman and applaud with me when my child does well at school. They are the finest army I’ve ever beheld.

Does becoming a parent test who your real friends are?

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