The title may sound negative, however it’s not meant that way at all. When you go through 2 of the most challenging and life changing events that I’ve focused this blog on, you learn who your friends are. Now, yes when my Dad died I had a fair few people who I did feel let down by, that didn’t even acknowledge it, not even a text. People who stood next to him on my wedding day, people who have known me or my family for many years, but to be honest so what, I had the support I needed and at the time I was to wrapped up in the shock and height of grief that it paled into insignificance. The same happened after giving birth, some people didn’t get in touch etc etc. But some did, some people really stepped up on both occasions and pleasantly surprised me with their support and kind words and it’s amazing how loved and supported I felt as a result.
Firstly, there was the friend that turned up on a break from work, in her chef’s jacket with a bunch of flowers and massive pot of chilli that we could spoon out and microwave when needed because she knew we were too shocked and grief stricken to think about eating when Dad had passed. She didn’t stop long, she just came to give us what we needed, practical support at a difficult time (and some sarcastic humour of hers to bring a smile when you think you never will again).
Then there were the friends that checked in, some that just sent a text with kisses after Dad had died or encouraging “hang in there mama, you’re doing a great job” texts after a long sleepless night of cluster feeding. One friend has answered countless messages begging for advice and positivity during anxious new mum moments and despite her own busy lifestyle and goings on she’s always been there for me through any difficult time and responded with encouragement and care.
There’s the people that have provided constant reassurance that everything I’m doing and feeling is normal and either part of the grief process or typical of being a new mum.
I’ve had people turn up and appreciate how hard it is in the first few weeks with a new baby so they’ve put the kettle on, they’ve grabbed me a drink, washed up the pots that were having a 2 day bath in the kitchen sink. They turned up with cake, a hot meal or loving arms to tend to baby P while I get my head down for 30mins (or at least tried to before my chesticles were required). And all without having to be asked.
There’s the friend that as soon as she’d heard about Dad, turned up that afternoon to pick me up and just get me out of the house, which did end up in getting me completely blathered but me and this friend have shared many a drunken time together and it was just what I needed at that moment in time, a friend, gin and to laugh and cry all at the same time.
There’s the mum friends I’ve grown closer to, my lifelong best friend became an Aunty for the second time roughly around the same time as becoming Aunty to my little one (yeah not a real Aunty, she’s the Aunty who Peter Kay style “goes with mum to water aerobics on a Wednesday”). Now I’ve always considered myself close to her whole family, we grew up dancing together and I’ve shared many of their good family times as they have mine but I now find myself bonding with her sister as our little ones become besties too. Her whole family have been there for me through both events and shown me so much love it’s overwhelming,
Then there’s my family support, my mum was a god send obviously but also in her absence (6 week trip to spend much needed quality time with my brother and family) how my Aunty and cousin have stepped in and given me the advice and reassurance that I can trust my instincts. They’ve not judged, bossed or critiqued, just listened and given me the confidence to do what deep down I already knew was best, I just needed that little bit of reassurance.
I love my sister-in-law and have always found she gives good diplomatic advice and I like her style of parenting my nephews, she’s great with them and she’s provided wonderful support. Every FaceTime she melts my heart as she gushed through the screen at little P but also she’s offered kind reassurance as well as her brilliant witty sense of humour about the idiosyncrasies of motherhood (her facial expressions and use of emojis to show them when it’s in a text only adds to the humour!).
I’ve had friends just let me know they’re there, I’ve a good friend who gets together with me for coffee or brunch and we provide each other with “therapy” (well lunch is cheaper than a professional therapist and you get cake too!). We both laugh, cry and have a good natter that gets everything off our chest and I just know I can call her whenever or just pop up and see her. I like our “therapy” sessions, the coffee is good too!
It’s also nice how these two events not only brought about new friends but also rekindled old friendships, people who I’d not seen in a long time wanted to get in touch to offer condolences and/or meet my daughter and share in our happiness.
The fact is that yes, there are some people and friendships that drift further away as life happens to you but what I’ve been pleasantly surprised by is that for every friendship that’s diluted as a result of these events, several have developed since and become stronger. So you really do learn who your friends are.