You would be hard pushed to find another individual who loves their friends as much as I do. Seriously! I’m 39 years of age and still class myself as having 10 best friends and being the luckiest girl because of it. Not many can say that at my age that’s for sure.
When I was really young I used to fall hard when I met someone new and fun. I’d meet a new girl, we’d connect on some level and BOOM! We were fast friends who’d spend every moment we could together, just like your typical teenage friendship addiction.
Almost all of these friendships ended in us falling out over a boy or the fact our friends like our new friend better. You know, typical teenage girl dramas that feel like the end of the world at the time? Man, I can’t tell you how many fallouts I’ve had with some of these girls. Such a waste of energy but I suppose it was all part of the teenager experience.
I honestly believe that you will never have a bond with a friend like you do with a friend that you grew up with. I’m blessed to still be close to 3 of my friends from school and even now we share everything, no holds barred. Well, when you’ve shared all those embarrassing teenage milestones that only girls experience together nothing is off limits and I love that about them! They have seen me through periods, puberty, fights, bullying, terrible boyfriends, dreadful fashion decisions and even worse life decisions. We’ve helped each other through illnesses, deaths and births. As I say, you will never have a bond with a newer friend like you do with a life long friend.
Boys ruin everything don’t they?
With age came wisdom (ok, ok maybe not wisdom… maybe knowledge then?) and I learnt to tread carefully when it came to meeting a new, potential friend who I clicked with so that I could possibly have them in my life a little longer than 6 months. I was lucky to have so many friends in all aspects of my life (I was in many different clubs and teams) and as my mum would tell you, my friends came first. Always. My loyalty was always strong with them all.
But as the years went by the mood shifted. My friends seemed to be interested in boyfriends much sooner than I was prepared for. I wasn’t the prettiest of the bunch so never put myself ‘out there’ like my friends did. Then the excuses on meetups came, the constant talk of how amazing ‘Mark/Paul/Steve’ was blah blah blah. I was only jealous, I’ll admit that now. Not so much at 14 years of age though.
We were moving from teenagers to young women and it was a steep learning curve.. For all of us.
My turn to fall in love, but my loyalty remained.
I was very lucky at 16 to finally bag myself a boyfriend and even luckier that, although he liked being with me he also liked being with his friends! Great!! So many girls (and boys) I knew went down the relationship hole and were never seen again due to jealousy, devoting their life to them etc. I have no problem with that, but it just isn’t my thing at all. I’d learnt from my mistakes years before and never put my eggs all in one basket.
I worked hard to balance friendships, my relationship, work life and adult life for 7 successful years. After my break up with my ex I made a pact with myself. I was not to settle for anyone until that someone gave me butterflies and until then I would do as much as I could as a single lady. I ended up being single 10 years and had LOTS of fun along the way.
Losing your friends to babies
I was prepared for this very early on as one of my friends (who I mention above) got pregnant at 17. I remember visiting her a month after she gave birth and she had told me how lonely she had been. She explained that everyone had visited her and baby in the first week, offered to help and then disappeared with no trace. Leaving her tired, scared and alone. From then on I would wait until at least week 3 before visiting friends and their newborns and then try and visit as often as I could. I’m so glad I did as I would come to appreciate the same kindness 20 years later.
My outlook on this scenario during my 20’s was that I was the free and single person in my friendships. My friends were at home with children, I wasn’t. They couldn’t come out as often, had priorities that I didn’t etc. So I would always call, text or invite myself for dinner and go as often as I could (which was a win-win for me as I got cooked a meal and company too). They would moan about how hard motherhood was, I’d moan about work, money or men. It was a good exchange. Just what the doctor ordered.
Now I’m a mum, they’re all here for me
Pay it forward they say. Well, here I am at 39 years of age with two daughters under 3! I am seeing life through my friends eyes now and I am so glad I began making an effort 20 years ago as those friends now visit me. Although Lockdown has thrown a spanner in the works a bit there, I’ll admit. But that’s the beauty of FaceTime, Zoom and other online social media platforms. Virtual connections are SO popular these days.
Friendships take time, patience, forgiveness and consistency
My days roll into one these days, I am trying to balance being a mum, being a girlfriend, being a housewife (I hate that term), being a daughter, sister, aunty and be a friend to my girlfriends all at once. It’s hard! But doable. It’s totally doable and you have to want to do it otherwise these friendships won’t work.
Friendship is a two way connection though. You can’t have 1 person doing all the work as it isn’t fair and it won’t last. I will find myself having 10 minutes to myself and remind myself I haven’t heard from many people lately (because I’ve not been great at replying mostly) so I will write a long text, copy and paste it all my girls. Check in on them, make sure they are ok. It’s 2021, a text is fine and more than acceptable these days and it’s a quick and easy way to keep in touch when busy.
I also try and arrange a Zoom night once every few months with everyone. I have quiz nights, games, bingo or sometimes just a wine and a whinge with the girls. It’s nice. That’s when I’m glad I made the effort. I’m a doer, a planner, always the one to organise nights out so I know my friends rely on me to do these things and I don’t mind doing it as I get to speak to my friends and have fun, all from the comfort of my own home! No worrying about babysitters, taxis or queuing at the bar.
Gaining online friends via the Instagram mum account circuit
I was conscious that my days were filled with mum related activities and I knew that my friends and family would soon get bored of my personal Instagram account, so in January 2020 I set up an account called The Swan Effect Mum and started uploading photos, videos and stories about my day to day life as a full time working mum. It is now a year on and I have gained a fair number of followers, but more importantly I have met some fantastic mums too!
Around this time, I also became pregnant and at just 8 weeks Boris Johnson declared to the nation that all pregnant people were to stay indoors due to the nasty new virus called COVID-19. I was just as shocked as everyone else, but quietly looked forward to a nice little stay at home break with my partner and toddler for 6 weeks. We had a blast! Little did I know I would see my pregnancy, birth AND maternity leave through the pandemic. That wasn’t a blast one bit let me tell you.
I began feeling isolated and upset that my pregnancy was not being discussed as much as my first pregnancy mostly due to COVID-19 being the topic of every conversation (still is I may add). I was having complications also, which meant many solo visits to appointments and to rub salt into the wound, we lost my lovely dad to Parkinson’s Disease in July 2020. I was 26 weeks pregnant and heartbroken.
Having other mums to talk to during this time saved me (many times) from falling down that black hole that I have looked down more than I care to admit. Having these friendships online allowed me to realise that I was not alone and there are many women going through what I was going through and we helped each other through the bad days during lockdown.
These online friendships have changed my life in more ways than I could ever explain with their words of support and kindness. There is a strong online mum community on Instagram and I really feel I have found online friends for life. Together we get each other through the chaos, one day at a time.
About The Swan Effect Mum
Hi, I’m Lynne. I’m a 39 year old mum of two girls. Ffion who is 2 and Veronica (Ronnie) who is 4 months old. Along with my partner Phill, we live in a 2 bedroom bungalow that we are slowly extending and making into our forever family home in North Wales.
I’m a full time working mum currently on maternity leave. I am an apprenticeship officer and love my job as I meet so many people, from all walks of life and no day is the same. I love to keep busy and work well under the pressure of targets and deadlines so it’s a perfect role for me. I am now also a part time mum blogger and have recently started my own podcast.
I decided to start The Swan Effect Mum blog as I wanted to see more honest mum accounts online, the ones that don’t have the perfect homes and the perfect families (which was making me feel inadequate as a mum if I’m being honest). There is too much pressure on mums to have it all these days, which is completely impossible. My goal is to help other full time working mums with day planners, week planners and a Facebook group once I am back in work. There is a lot of stigma towards women who decide to return to work full time and I want to end this as much as I can. As with many mums, I have worked hard to get where I am in my career and wish to have a work/life balance that suits us as a family.