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LOSING YOUR FRIENDS

1
Back when you were child-free and friends announced they were having babies, a part of you would be pleased for them, but another would be sad and disappointed, because you knew that you were losing a partner in crime. You knew this spelled the end of wild nights out, and that all future meet-ups would have to be scheduled three weeks in advance and take place near her new house in zone 70.

Then, when the baby was born, although you enjoyed having the opportunity to go and buy cute stuff at Baby Gap, another part of you felt like Patsy in Ab Fab and

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wanted to hiss at it for monopolising the conversation. You would share something important and heartfelt with your friend, keen for her advice, only to watch her fuss over the baby and say, ‘Sorry, what was that?’ After repeating yourself 46 times, you’d leave, feeling like the whole visit had been massively unsatisfactory and hadn’t involved any drinking at all.

After that she’d take weeks to return a call or email, and when she finally did get around to doing so, would breezily mention how busy she’d been. Even though you were putting

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in 10 hours a day at some crap job and couldn’t so much as find time to get your eyebrows done, and she wasn’t even working.

At the time you might even have said (oh, the shame of it!), ‘But what do you do all day?’ And there would have been a silence, which you would have filled by back-pedalling like mad and mumbling something like, ‘God, babies. Must be manic. Hardest job in the world,’ etc, while secretly thinking she was making a bit of a meal of changing a few nappies and going to Gymboree.

So… Mothers. You knew they made shit

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friends. And you also knew that, if/when you had kids, you would not make their mistakes. You would not assume that anyone outside of immediate family wanted to hear about that thing your kid did. You would know that, when people asked after your children, they wanted a five-word précis, max. And you certainly wouldn’t leave every dinner at a lame-arsed 10.30pm because you’d got to get back for the babysitter. You would be a proper friend, like you were before.

But then you had your baby and realised all at once why your mum friends never called

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you. You learned about the witching hour – that period between 5pm and 7pm where you lock yourself in the bathroom to send your husband a series of increasingly homicidal texts IN CAPS LOCK!!! And when the baby finally went to sleep, and you finally had 10 seconds to yourself, the last thing you felt like was a chirpy telephone catch-up. Suddenly you found that the most convenient time to talk to anyone was 7am on a Sunday morning, when, guess what, no fucker wanted to speak to you.

Perhaps it was around this time that you decided it would be better

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for the children if you moved to some far-flung, isolated part of the country – a decision you justified by telling yourself that you’d have amazing weekend parties with loads of people to stay, and it’d be like Brideshead or something, forgetting that you lived in a 3-bed house in a cul de sac and would have to do all the cooking and cleaning up yourself. And though people did come and visit you, they quickly realised what a ball-ache it was negotiating the M25. And, figuring they saw all the sights your little town had to offer that first time,
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they never bothered coming again.

Then, as the months rolled on, you found people who were willing to babysit, and slowly it reached a point where you were capable of staying up past 10pm without passing out in your pudding. But by that point, you weren’t even sure who to call.

 

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Alex Manson-Smith

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- 1 May 14

Back when you were child-free and friends announced they were having babies, a part of you would be pleased for them, but another would be sad and disappointed, because you knew that you were losing a partner in crime. You knew this spelled the end of wild nights out, and that all future meet-ups would have to be scheduled three weeks in advance and take place near her new house in zone 70.

Then, when the baby was born, although you enjoyed having the opportunity to go and buy cute stuff at Baby Gap, another part of you felt like Patsy in Ab Fab and wanted to hiss at it for monopolising the conversation. You would share something important and heartfelt with your friend, keen for her advice, only to watch her fuss over the baby and say, ‘Sorry, what was that?’ After repeating yourself 46 times, you’d leave, feeling like the whole visit had been massively unsatisfactory and hadn’t involved any drinking at all.

After that she’d take weeks to return a call or email, and when she finally did get around to doing so, would breezily mention how busy she’d been. Even though you were putting in 10 hours a day at some crap job and couldn’t so much as find time to get your eyebrows done, and she wasn’t even working.

At the time you might even have said (oh, the shame of it!), ‘But what do you do all day?’ And there would have been a silence, which you would have filled by back-pedalling like mad and mumbling something like, ‘God, babies. Must be manic. Hardest job in the world,’ etc, while secretly thinking she was making a bit of a meal of changing a few nappies and going to Gymboree.

So… Mothers. You knew they made shit friends. And you also knew that, if/when you had kids, you would not make their mistakes. You would not assume that anyone outside of immediate family wanted to hear about that thing your kid did. You would know that, when people asked after your children, they wanted a five-word précis, max. And you certainly wouldn’t leave every dinner at a lame-arsed 10.30pm because you’d got to get back for the babysitter. You would be a proper friend, like you were before.

But then you had your baby and realised all at once why your mum friends never called you. You learned about the witching hour – that period between 5pm and 7pm where you lock yourself in the bathroom to send your husband a series of increasingly homicidal texts IN CAPS LOCK!!! And when the baby finally went to sleep, and you finally had 10 seconds to yourself, the last thing you felt like was a chirpy telephone catch-up. Suddenly you found that the most convenient time to talk to anyone was 7am on a Sunday morning, when, guess what, no fucker wanted to speak to you.

Perhaps it was around this time that you decided it would be better for the children if you moved to some far-flung, isolated part of the country – a decision you justified by telling yourself that you’d have amazing weekend parties with loads of people to stay, and it’d be like Brideshead or something, forgetting that you lived in a 3-bed house in a cul de sac and would have to do all the cooking and cleaning up yourself. And though people did come and visit you, they quickly realised what a ball-ache it was negotiating the M25. And, figuring they saw all the sights your little town had to offer that first time, they never bothered coming again.

Then, as the months rolled on, you found people who were willing to babysit, and slowly it reached a point where you were capable of staying up past 10pm without passing out in your pudding. But by that point, you weren’t even sure who to call.

 

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Alex Manson-Smith

Alex Manson-Smith is a journalist who has written for a myriad of publications. She blogs at You're So Mummy and is mother to Emilio, 4, and Xavier, 1. They live in East London.

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