Thursday, 12 January 2012

You Got a Friend in me...

Maybe it's after the lull of the holidays, but much of this week has involved planning for the packed months ahead. A lot of it involves the children's ever evolving social lives and hobbies, as well as the mundane day to day meetings and appointments that liberally pepper family life. But honestly, there's also a fair bit of craic with family and friends lined up for us as well. In other words, good busy, and not just busy, busy.
It got me thinking though about friendships, and what makes a good friend. I think I used to assume that the friends you make in your childhood and formative years are the deepest and most long lasting but now I don't think that's necessarily true. I'm not downgrading those relationships -there IS something uniquely special about a friend who has known you since you wet the bed- but all too often as we change, mature and grow into ourselves, we naturally grow apart from each other as well. I had one very close friend, with whom I shared every single moment of teenage angst, and yet as the daily routines and geography of our lives changed as young adults, our friendship gradually fell away with it. Looking back now with maturity and hindsight, i know that it wasn't really a friendship of equals-put bluntly, I was her less attractive chubby wing woman, more than willing to live and breathe in her shadow. It doubtless filled a need for both of us at the time. But when we reconnected at twenty five, the balance had changed completely- neither of us were comfortable with our old roles, yet we were unable to establish better new, ones.There was no dramatic standoff or argument, just an unspoken mutual understanding that we'd reached the end of the road.
Of course the opposite can happen too. My oldest friend from primary school has re entered my life over the last year or so, and I still feel the old connections crackling between us. Although our lives and choices are now so very different, the core strength of the relationship, and shared memories are intact. This is the mark of a true friend I suppose-the ability to just pick up where you left off, even if months or years have gone by.
It has to be said that some of the greatest friends in my life, and those that I now see most frequently, are the ones I have made as a mother. You see, it doesn't matter what has gone before because being a mother makes equals of all of us! There is no hierarchy, or career ladder because we're ALL in the bloody trenches. The unvarnished, shared experiences of pregnancies, births, infancy, toddlerhood and beyond, the tears of a bad day, that over caffeine and cake can change to laughter, the giggly alcohol fueled nights out that lead to the inevitable over sharing and deepening bonds- these are the friends whose families grow up alongside mine. In fact, my mum still goes out of an evening with 'the girls' - the group of ladies that she has known since we were children. I remember her little suppers for 'the girls' well- our reward for staying out of the way was  unrestrained access to the leftovers later! I'll wrap this up with a quote from Edvard Grieg (whoever he is!) but I think he sums it up far better than I ever could.
' It is great to have friends when one is young, but indeed it is still more so when you are getting old. When we are young, friends are like everything else, a matter of course. In the old days we know what it means to have them.'
Do you agree? Or maybe not? I'd love to hear your friendship thoughts....


  1. Och Brenda- you weren't supposed to cry!! Where would I be without you to show me how it's done???

  2. That teenage friend, while lovely - was always just your less attractive, skinny, wing woman.