After my slightly pathetic – in the truest sense of the word – thoughts on losing friends, combined with an international move, obviously one thing I should be doing – or at the very least, trying to do – right now is making new friends.
…except I just don’t really want to.
The problem is partly – largely – that I have such lovely friends already. They are people who I have been at school with; met at university; worked with, and mothered alongside. They are an amazing group of (mostly) women.
Slightly inconveniently though, they are all in another country(ies), or at the very least, another province. They’re not here!We have been pretty busy over the last six years. I made friends (okay, a good friend) through our NCT group when our first was born and I was totally cluelessly attempting to continue living a London lifestyle with a baby in tow. I made great friends when we spent a year in the far north of Canada, my first experience of a life outside London and something of a culture shock. I made a lovely group of friends when I returned to the UK, pregnant with our second baby. And I found more kindred spirits when we moved again, locally this time, after our third baby was born and my son started school.
So, lots of friends, and lots of making friends, meeting mostly via our children of similar ages. It’s an excellent way to meet people, a whole community of people at a similar stage of family – but as anyone knows, and especially after a house move, locally or internationally, it takes energy.
Energy that I’m just not sure I have this time around!
I mean – if the first rung of having a network in your new locale is being appropriately social with your neighbours – I can just about stretch to that.
No one wants to be best friends with your next door neighbour though (just me?) as they are a little bit too close for comfort when you try and avoid leaving your house or having to get out of your Pjs without being spotted. Or when you are having a furious exchange with your husband about where the house keys are (not me) (they are always in my pocket).
I’ve started saying things like, ‘but it’s fine! I don’t really have time for friends anyway!’
Without a network though, this move really has something of an expiry date. If this is going to be our (semi-permanent?) homestead I have to make some moves on the friendship front. So my January resolve is to kick that off in earnest.
It’s just unfortunate that having 4 small children is pretty exhausting. I’m really quite tired! And so the last thing I feel like doing is making myself look reasonably passable and hanging around toddler groups smiling at everyone until I meet someone who I actually have anything in common with, and who doesn’t think I’m a massive bore-off. The second criterion, the not thinking I’m a massive bore-off, is a surprisingly big ask, given that the first stumbling block – the exhaustion – means that I often will start a sentence and halfway through, forget what it was that I was saying. Also, with lots of small people to watch, toddler groups are less relaxing than they were with just one errant toddler to keep an eye on. I am making small talk and simultaneously watching 2 or 3 small people to make sure they are not hurting themselves/anyone else/at risk from other toddlers – not to mention trying to make sure they’re actually having fun, as is the main pursuit of toddler groups. So my ability to chat, or to finish a sentence, is pretty limited.
Plus, as anyone who has made friends with their NCT group / mums at the school gate knows, it is something of an odds game. Having similar-aged children is really not as much in common as you’d think, or hope. My closest mum friends, made over the last 6 years, would be excellent company even if they didn’t happen to have children the same age as mine. You will likely have to meet a much larger number of people before you find someone you’d be friends with despite their children or lack thereof.
In any case, here we go. Renewed efforts at the awkward exchange of phone numbers in what feels like some kind of mum/mom date, followed by coffees and play dates where you try to stop your child either terrorizing their child, or being terrorized by their child. All in the name of finding someone you can roll your eyes with and say things like “I’m having a horrible day and if I have to listen to that toddler group leader sing one more verse of the wheels on the bus my head will explode”.
2017. The year of the Canadian friendship hunt! I’ll keep you posted.