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.



Filed under Anxiety Overload, Friends

6 responses to “Absence

  1. Mel

    First and foremost, a hug. And then I’m going to whisper in your virtual ear, “me too.” It is really hard to make new friends as an adult. I have a lot of friend-ly-ships — like more than an acquaintance, less than a friend — but few close friends that I’ve made in the last 5 years. Sometimes I wish it was totally cool to say to someone, “So can we skip the whole awkward period and just jump straight into the getting coffee and spilling our heart out stage?” But I guess that isn’t cool to admit to people you’re only experiencing a friend-ly-ship with.

  2. Sometimes it takes ignoring the inappropriateness or over-sharing-ness of a confession or a question to turn a friend-ly-ship (as Mel so aptly describes them!) into friendship. Making friends is an incredible act of vulnerability. I don’t know the right way for you, but I sometimes just decide I’m going to be friends with someone, and then I treat them more like a friend and less like a friend-ly than is warranted for the time we’ve spent together. It nearly always works. It is scary though, and even though I’m the one pushing things deeper, it takes me ages to trust the other person, so it feels like flying blind in the early stages. But it is always worth it, because I get to be friends with them after. This is how I have made three of my most significant friendships, and I think how a fourth happened, but she adopted me in that case.
    This is a total extrovert way of approaching things, so I grant you that it will sound completely crazy. I read a meme the other day that said introverts make friends by waiting for an extrovert to adopt them, and I thought it was ridiculous, and Pea thought it was completely true.
    So maybe, at pick up or drop off, say something real now and again, see if anyone is struggling with some of the same things, or is interested, or happy to chat more.
    Or perhaps, go to some early years center events or library events with P – find the other mat leave moms in your neighbourhood with kids P’s age or close to, who will be in P’s class. You do have a second round for this, after all.

  3. Turia

    Mel, friend-ly-ships is such an apt way of putting it! I have a bunch of those. And, labmonkey, it isn’t as though I haven’t gone deeper with some of the mums- a fair number of them knew about all the insanity of 2016, especially the couple I leaned on to help with picking E. up from school when I was away and Q. was teaching. I’m struggling to establish real friendships outside of crisis management as everyone is so limited in their time. The person I tried hardest with last year has a lot of other well established friends and she’s very clearly pulled back from me a bit this year, so I guess I’m a little wary of trying again.

    I don’t regret P. for a second, but E’s best school friend is an only and his parents are lovely and it would be SO EASY to make them into real friends if we could go and do things as a set of six without having the baby in tow. I’m trying really hard, but she does complicate matters.

  4. nonsequiturchica

    I have heard that it gets better when the kids are a little older. I have the same problem. I have great girlfriends across the country because we have moved a lot, but no one super close. My neighbors are awesome, but no one that I have truly “clicked” with (at least not yet). It’s hard to make an effort when there is so much going on.

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