I don’t have any friends.
This isn’t, of course, exactly true, but it’s how I’ve been feeling for the last few months.
I have two sisters who are my best friends and who (finally) both live relatively nearby.
I have good friends from high school who don’t live in the same city.
I have some very close girl friends who would be my besties if they lived in the same city, but they don’t (and a couple of them aren’t even in the same country).
I have friends who do live in the city but not in our neighbourhood. They all have kids too and getting together requires scheduling and planning and many emails.
I have online friends, including one group of ladies who’ve been together since 2008. We all struggled with infertility and now we are all trying to navigate our way through parenting, work/life balance, etc. I’ve met them all in person, but no one lives in my city.
I have lots of people I talk to at school pick up and drop off.
I rarely walk anywhere in my neighbourhood without seeing someone I know well enough to stop and chat with.
What I don’t have, however, are good girl friends who live in my neighbourhood, whose kids go to the same school as E.
And this year I’ve really felt that absence.
I’ve been in this neighbourhood for long enough- this September it will be nine years since we moved into our house. Some of the mums at school whom I would most like to be friends with are newer arrivals.
But I feel like I’ve missed the friendship boat. The mums I would most like to be friends with already have other mum friends. They are friendly to me, but they already have someone to talk to when things are tough.
Most of them have been friends since they were on maternity leave.
I was on maternity leave then too.
I didn’t make mum friends in my neighbourhood. I had a group of mum friends from prenatal yoga and we hung out all the time in that wild first year, but two of them moved away and the ones who are still in the city are not in my neighbourhood.
I’m kicking myself now for not trying to find mum friends right where I lived, but the mums whom I would most want to be friends with all had January or February babies.
Four or five months doesn’t make a difference now that they’re all six, but in that first year it would have been huge.
We made some friends when E. was at nursery school, but their kids haven’t been in the same class as E. for two years now, and they have other friends too, so it’s hard to maintain a connection.
E. is not good at making friends. It’s been extremely hard for him, which makes it that much harder for me, because my best chance to make friends with these mums is when our kids are playing together. And if E. doesn’t want to stay after school to play in the playground, if getting him to agree to a playdate is like pulling teeth, if he doesn’t connect with the kids of the mums whom I like, then how can I forge a connection?
We’re all parenting one (or more) kids. Almost everyone is working. No one has much free time, so of course they’re going to want to spend the time that they do have with their established friends. And P. has certainly complicated things on my end.
The truth is, I am not good at making friends either.
I am introverted and anxious.
It is hard for me to reach out.
But I’m realizing that I’m also really lonely.
There’s been a lot going on with E. this year, on top of everything that happened to my family last year, and I’ve realized I just don’t know who I can talk to about it. It’s too much to just hand over to someone I don’t know all that well. It’s too big.
And so I smile and wave and chat with the other mums.
I talk and talk.
I never really say anything.