Teddy was in the bath and playing chef. I ordered my meal, ate it and then complimented him on the cuisine. I told him I would recommend his restaurant to all my friends. He paused for a moment and said “Who are your friends?”. I smiled and laughed and said “I don’t know!!”. He then said “Me, I’m you’re friend”. Like not in a wondering way but almost a consoling way. It was amusing but it certainly is a subject that has been on my mind lately.
I don’t know where all my friends have gone. Some have moved away. Others have expanded their families with twins and they’re almost impossible to have more than a brief chat with, others are around but single and busy, or mostly I have male friends and they are off busy doing male things. The friends I tend to see most that Teddy knows are mom’s of his friends whom we see at play dates and I have made a new friend this year at his new school who we’ve seen several times and we get on very well. Of course, her job has her travel a lot for the rest of the year and so as much as we’ve become pals I don’t see her as being around on a regular basis.
It’s hard to maintain friendships and even harder as a parent. For me, things revolve mainly around Teddy. I don’t have the time, inclination or energy to keep up with too many of my own people, save a lunch, text or a chat here and there. I am just too tired. I rarely go out at night because who wants to pay for the sitter? I work from home so my schedule is flexible during the day and I do have lunches and coffees, etc… but it’s doesn’t make for deep, meaningful friendships. The good news is that I have a few of those and that means I don’t need to see these friends all the time, we are there for on another regardless of how often we can see one another, we mean a lot to one another and it’s there. I have that security. At least I think I do. Listen to this tale of woe…..
Almost as soon as my son was born I lost a lot of friends. I was in a group of women, all around the same age and they were best best friends. We saw each other at least once a week and spoke sometimes several times a day. Remarkable – grown women all employed in their late 30′s!!? Well, of course, only one of us was married and none had kids until I did. That made it easier. And boy were they excited when I got pregnant. They were so supportive and involved and they threw me an amazing baby shower and came to the hospital and were by my side until one day they all just disappeared. Who knew how hard single motherhood would be and what it would be like for one of the group to suddenly need something serious. I was called selfish, needy and demanding. Yes, that was probably about the gist of it for the first three months of his life when I had no clue what I was doing, was living in an amazing house that was too far from everything and suffered the trials and tribulations of a newborn without any family around. Yep, I thought I could count on my friends. Nope, I was wrong. People told me “they’re single, they don’t understand’. “They’re all childless” (still are, even the married one), they have baby issues’, I don’t know, I suppose all these things were true, it’s just I was there for them through every turn good and bad, thick and thin whether it was a boyfriend dumping them, to the highs of a gorgeous wedding at a Malibu mansion, to the death of a father and so on….I never said it was too much and disappeared. When one became addicted to pills, I was there for her and though it was difficult I never rescinded my friendship.
Interestingly, one of them whom I still chat with from time to time but whom I never take up on an offer to take a walk with ran into my father and stepmother while they were out with Teddy for dessert the other day. She came up and said hi to my dad whom she knew and saw Teddy and told him (which he told me), “I knew you when you were a little baby.”. I thought that was kind of embarrassing for her. I live about 3 blocks away, she has asked to take a walk, I have gotten her two jobs (she’s a makeup artist) and she’s never gotten me a thank you gift or written a thank you card and I was her best friend and she mine for several years. And now she sees my son grow up on Facebook. What can she possibly think of that? I think it’s horrific.
I have to wonder what the criteria for a friendship is these days. Obviously we have similar likes and dislikes, a common ground, sense of humor, similar wants and needs….I swear on my sons life that when he was born I lost at least 6 friends. Ones I thought I was blessed to call solid good friends, and no one who saw me and stood by me said I acted any differently than any normal new mother, albeit a single one. Same difference. And after a few moths I had it more under control and was a semi-normal person again. But they’d bailed. And as painful as it was, I was in no mood to beg. One, whom I would say helped me through a terrible time earlier and who I spoke to at least 5 times a week I have never spoken to again since at least 4 weeks after Teddy was born. And these women are all in 12 Step programs, in long term recovery I might add and never have I received an amends. Never has one maturely come to me and said, “Jenny, you acted like this so we decided to end 5 years of friendship”, Just wanted to let you know. I don’t think about it much anymore but I remain in the dark, answers only to able to be put together through psychobabble of ‘they have kid issues’, ‘they’re selfish’ and so on. They were my best friends. That’s what I knew.
I bring it up because I finally un-friended the last one on Facebook over the holidays. I thanked her for all her help and support when my mother died and I clicked her off my list. I don’t even know if she’s noticed. I am actually very low maintenance. I unfortunately expect to get less back than what I give. I was told by a mutual friend that as a group they decided that to have a child in the mix would deem me too needy, things would need to be worked around me and so it was better to get out now than make it harder later. I can’t understand this thinking. The thinking of the selfish? It’s bizarre. I have never had a desire to speak to any of them since I heard this.
When Teddy was about 5 months old I developed a very very bad sleeping disorder. He was now sleeping through the night reasonably so, but I was getting less than 3 hours, working full time and being his only parent. I fell asleep while driving home from a film set and decided I needed to get some help. I checked myself into a hospital so I could get on some serious sleep medication and be monitored. My sister took Teddy for a week. Two of these friends came to see me the first night. They had no idea how much I was suffering and struggling because they no longer wanted to listen. They wouldn’t come over to help when I asked if they could watch Teddy for half and hour while I took a shower. They came and said they only had a few moments as the car was illegally parked. They told me I needed to find some friends with kids. As though that’s a job you can advertise for.
Well, good idea I thought. I knew it was necessary but certainly not something easily done. I did do it eventually. Friends like this have come and gone. The kids work well together until they get older and realize they don’t like one another. You know you’re only there for the kids and make small talk but are happy to just have some adult conversation with someone in the same situation as you. Mostly I met women with families and some invited me into the fold, which was nice. As I said, some have moved away, others have become so burdened with more kids that we barely find time to just stay in touch and I can’t remember the last time I saw a woman on a true friendship basis without a child around.
The men in my life are much more welcoming. They are single or have kids from previous marriages. They are friends and they get it. Teddy enjoys the male energy as do I and I trust them. Women, not so much. You may have gathered that from previous blogs, lol. Anyway, it’s a sucky story and I’m not looking for sympathy. Life is what it is. I’m sure I was too needy, sorry. I’m sorry I chose such terrible friends. I know I did nothing out of the ordinary and I can’t imagine treating someone like that. I learn as I go with people. I remember asking another friend who also had a new baby (but lived in the UK) if she lost any friends and she said no. None. Great, great answer.
Is this me or is this something that’s happened to others as well? I come from a very disconnected family so I don’t have roots and have had to find them. I have as best I can. I know there are people who will be there for me if I need them but they’re not actually here and that’s hard. I’m so grateful to have my son and feel they are the ones who have lost knowing and enjoying him. That’s as positive as I can get about the terribleness of their choice.
Anyway, sob story over. I just wanted to tell it. Thanks for reading, friend.