Aren't Old Friends Always The Best Friends?
Recently I met up with an old friend who I hadn't been able to properly catch up with in a long time. We became close friends in secondary school, so we spent all our teens, twenties and early thirties almost completely in sync.
Together we navigated boyfriend, fashion and poorly paid job crises. In our early thirties, however, we moved into our own homes quite a distance away from each other and started families so (predictably in hindsight) we drifted apart. She and I still kept in touch but sparingly, meeting up perhaps once or (rarely) twice a year. A massive change from the daily phone calls which typically lasted two to three hours and standard twice-weekly meetups.
When our children arrived, we transformed ourselves into Mammies, she devoted to hers, me to my two girls. We dedicated ourselves completely (naturally) to our little people as new parents do. We swapped nightclubs for playgroups and brunch for coffee mornings with other new mothers who lived closer to us. Life got in the way of our friendship and in the way of us being seen as individuals. For me personally, Post Natal Depression (PND) reared its ugly head. I tended to focus on what I saw as my shortcomings as a parent.
My first daughter didn’t sleep much and up until she turned seven had never slept a night through in her own bed. Both my daughters refused to eat meals at regular times, my eldest was a grazer until she was at least three and my extremely headstrong youngest who is almost two could go all day long on one solid meal despite the plethora of food laid out at all meals and snack times. I blamed myself for these ‘quirks’ or shortcomings as I saw them and so threw myself into being Mammy with gusto and lost even more of my individuality.
I rarely left my children’s side and felt guilty at any time away from them. I gained weight and slept little. This situation was to continue for years. Sometime after my second child turned one, however, the fog gradually lifted and I began to want to be me again.
Lately myself and my friend have started checking in with each other. Together, we’ve reminisced about the old days, talked about the kids, given one another advice on current issues that are affecting us but mainly (and most importantly) we laugh. When we had lunch together recently she verbally reminded me who I was before I became Mammy, she spoke my full name to prod me into recalling my individuality. After all, she knew me back when my biggest concern was making sure my lipstick matched my outfit on a Saturday night.
During our time apart she’s had her struggles, and I’ve had mine. If we had known how each other was suffering in our own ways we could have been there for each other sooner, but we got there in the end. Now mutually we strive to make the time to see each other (in person) regularly, to go out socially and spend time with other adults. It may sound like common sense but when you’re a mother you must remember that you’re also you. We must try to recall the women we were before we became slaves to all-consuming tiny dictators.
Yes, I am a mother, but yes, I’m also Róisín who loves a good boogie, David Bowie, and writing about those and many other things. It just took an old friend to remind me.