I did say at the beginning of this series of posts that they wouldn’t be in order of priority, and the proof is that it’s taken me seventeen days to get to friends when, after family, they are by far what make me happiest. In some ways, in terms of pure, simple happiness friends might even have the edge at times. Families can be that bit more complex; you have guilt, worry and responsibilities which sometimes go hand in hand with the deep love you feel for your spouse, children, parents. Whereas friends are where you go to kick back, relax and have a laugh.
I have friends from school I only see infrequently because we no longer live in the same city, but when I do, I feel like I am fifteen again. I have other friends who I see pretty much every day on the school run, and having a quick gossip with them at 3.10pm can transform my mood after a day spent solely with an adorable but largely non-verbal little person.
There are the local friends who I have relied on heavily over the past couple of years when I seem to have spent far too much time going to hospital for tests, treatment or investigations connected with miscarriages or pregnancy, who have picked Anna up from school at short notice or had her for the day when I was unexpectedly kept in hospital, or turned up with home-cooked food, chocolate, sympathy and hugs when I was recovering. I am so grateful.
More recently one of my local friends had a hysterical phone call from me when Sophia fell and banged her head. She turned up 3 minutes later with her own little girl, calmed me down, phoned me a taxi to go to the hospital and took Anna home with her until husband was able to get home and collect her. I don’t want bad things to happen to my friends, obviously, but I hope that I am able to return all the favours by helping them out when they need it.
I have friends from different life stages – school, university, workplaces, NCT, baby classes, school gates. Many of them I don’t see as often as I would like – life, work, geography, children all get in the way at times – but a quick text exchange or Facebook message can brighten my day, and I know that when I do get to spend some proper time with them the pleasure of catching up properly will be enormous.
Like everyone, from time to time I get low or angry or anxious or hormonal. I have a few go-to solutions which generally make me feel better, many of which I have discussed in this blog series. Baking a cake, a long, hot bath (glass of wine optional but preferable), curling up on the sofa for a cuddle and chat with my husband, a comfort read, a brisk walk. One which I tend to neglect because it’s harder to put into operation than the others is going out for a drink with a friend. I can live without fancy bars or cocktails (although happy to discuss), but a couple of my girlfriends, a pub and a bottle or two of Chenin Blanc are pretty much guaranteed to make a new woman out of me.