When I was growing up, my mom didn’t have a lot of girlfriends. She had a best friend who lived far away, but they talked and wrote letters. She was friendly with some of my friends’ parents (of course some more than others). But she didn’t go out for girls’ night or away for girls’ weekends.
I grew up with a powerful group of girlfriends. As a teen (ignorant as I was), I often wondered if my mom even had friends from her former life and, if she did, where they had gone.
Fast forward many years, and I realize how much like my mother I actually am. In our current social-media-based world, it may seem like I have a lot of friends. And yes, despite being introverted, I do have friends from all of the different phases of my life.
I am sure I will receive a healthy dose of criticism for admitting this. The truth is, I have never been the best at keeping in touch with people when life circumstances change. After college, I moved away for graduate school while all of my friends moved back home. As they grew closer together after four years of being apart, I was frustratingly absent. Then all in a blur, there was work, marriage, kids, a move to suburbia, and the purchase of a home. I am usually overwhelmed by the hectic pace and responsibilities of life.
Over the past years since having children, I have become acutely aware of how my pre-parenthood friendships have suffered. I don’t often catch up with these friends, not because I do not love them and miss them, but because I am bad at it, for lack of a better phrase.
I often hear people bemoan being forgotten by their childless friends. In my case, I haven’t found that. Instead, I’m the problem. I’m a bad friend.
I don’t write this to make excuses. Rather, I write it to be honest with myself about a part of me that I wish I could improve upon but find so much trouble doing. I am lucky and thankful to have a healthy family, a roof over our heads, and more than enough food to eat, but I am, at times, thoroughly exhausted by daily life. There is always someone or something that demands my immediate attention, whether my hungry/bored/tantruming/ [insert-word-here] children, a pile of bills, impending work deadlines, meals to pack and plan, or home maintenance that cannot be ignored. Most days, when I finally stop running around like a chicken with my head cut off, I have nothing left to give. The thought of picking myself up to travel two hours into the city to see friends is frankly more than I can bear.
And I am ashamed to admit that.
Motherhood brings out the best and worst in all of us. Recognizing and acknowledging our faults is the first and often the hardest step in improving ourselves for the future. I know myself, and I know my limits. While a night out with friends is what some people might need to unwind and reset, I know that what I need is two hours alone with nothing and no one demanding my attention. When I don’t listen to that inner voice telling me to put my feet up for just a few seconds, I eventually suffer the consequences and break down.
But none of this means that I can’t do better. This post is my public commitment to do so.
So, friends, if you’ve wondered where I’ve gone… I’ve been in the weeds, and I’m sorry I’ve been a bad friend. I love you.