Friendships

I’ve been thinking about friendships a lot lately. About how they wax and wane over the years.

It was my son’s 13th birthday party on the weekend. Thirteen. My first born. A teenager in a few weeks. Where did that time go???

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And he’s rarely stopped smiling!

I’m fully aware that my hold over him is loosening – as it rightly should. My greatest concern about this is his friendship choices. That he’s mixing with people who will help him flourish. That he wont fall in with the ‘wrong crowd’. He’s now two years into high school – that mysterious world of teenage boys and girls. A world very different to the one I grew up in.

We don’t do birthday parties every year – he hasn’t had one since he turned ten. A lot has changed in three years. The whole ‘invite’ process confirmed it – who was on the list, how invites were handed out and followed up, kids arriving at the party I had not yet met. It was a great exercise in letting go of some control. Allowing responsibilities to pass to the next generation.

My son cruised through primary school. I was never called in to the office. I never had to worry about his friends. The same tight-knit circle of lovely boys stuck together from pre-primary through to year six. I was relieved when they moved on as a group to high school.

But there I was on Sunday, in a bowling alley with thirteen teenage boys, a mix of old and new friends, and it hit me. I realised how lucky he had been to have had that close-knit group of friends for so long. They have no doubt modelled what a good friendship means. Through them, my son has learnt to seek out friends he can trust. Friends who make him happy. These old friends were at the birthday party, as were the new. I was curious about these new friends he rarely speaks about (another sign that his teenage traits are right on track?) What were they like? How would they behave? Were they good influences?

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Rosemount Bowl, North Perth. ‘The Friendliest Bowl in the West’.

It wasn’t really intentional, but we found ourselves ‘covertly spying’ on our son and his widening circle of friends. Hubby and I (and our daughter and her friend) bowled in a third lane, leaving the boys to do their boisterous thing in the next two lanes. It was a lot of fun, but I have never felt more proud of my son, and his choice in friends – old and new. He was in his element. Socially at ease. Having a great time.

Later that night, I placed his birthday cards on the shelf. These teenage boys, future men, wrote the most amazing, thoughtful and beautiful messages to my son. I hope they retain that ability to openly express their thoughts and feelings.

Thinking about my son and his friendships, it brought to mind my own. How the mothers of his primary school friends are among my closest grown-up friends. How hard it can be, as an adult, to make new friends when everyone is caught up in the thick of life.

It’s harder to infiltrate the system of parent-based friendships as your children get older. Beyond the postnatal ‘baby groups’, the ‘playgroups’ when they become toddlers, and the ‘parent groups’ when your toddlers start school, there are far fewer opportunities to meet large numbers of new people. I’ve lost contact with so many friends over the years. We moved around a lot after marriage, and my babies were born in two different cities far from home. Frequent relocations in the pre-Facebook era made staying in contact a logistical nightmare.

Writing, and its natural affinity to social media, has introduced me to the biggest circle of friends I could ever have hoped for. It was an unexpected, but very welcome, side effect of taking the plunge to join social media and Facebook in my forties – brought about by a mid-life writing epiphany. For me, at least, social media has been a very positive experience, if at times so overwhelming I need to take complete breaks. Many of my online friends have become real-life friends. I’ve lost count of how many people I knew initially online, but have since met personally. And it’s a thrill every time, meeting a social media connection in the flesh.

I haven’t blogged here for months. This year I’ve been concentrating on my novel, and following my rule of not blogging unless I felt I had something interesting to say. This post has been on my mind since I received an email via my blog’s contact page, from a blogging friend in The United States (hi Michele!). She was kindly checking in on me. Making sure my silence didn’t mean something was wrong. She mentioned her blogging friends were like pen pals to her, and that she missed them when they disappeared for a while. It melted my heart, and like the aha moment I had watching my son at his 13th birthday, Michele’s reference to having ‘pen pals’ hit me. Online friends are like grown-up pen pals, but unlike the pen pals enforced on us in primary school, now we get to chose who we ‘write’ to. To people who share similar interests and values. People who are nothing like the pen pal I had when I was ten, who, after my childish lapse in judgement, dobbed me in to my teacher for something silly I wrote. I still smart over the belting I received at home after that little misdemeanour.

I like where I’m at with my grown-up friendships. I like the mix of old and new. The friends who shared my son’s first years at school, and the newer ones who share my passion for books and writing. The ones I have coffee with, and the ones I only meet online. Without these different friendship groups, life would be less colourful, interesting and inspiring. It would be boring. And lonely. And I value all those friendships very deeply.

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My son and his friends have been doing Halloween together since pre-primary.

31 thoughts on “Friendships

  1. This brought a tear to my eye, Marie. I only hope my son grows up with a sensitive, caring group of friends as yours is! I value our online friendship too, and love hearing from you whether it’s here, or on Twitter! X

    Liked by 4 people

    • Thanks, Kirsty! From what I’ve seen of your posts and photos, I’m sure your son will meet his own lovely circle of friends – having a sensitive mother like you, modelling these things for him.
      I love our online catchups too! x 😊

      Like

    • Another insightful post, thanks Marie! I guess I’ve got all of this to look forward to … but was reassured to see that it seems your son has some lovely friends. I was particularly pleased to read that they still write each other birthday cards! Hoping that you and I will stay ‘pen pals’ and one day also meet in real life! On your book tour, perhaps?

      Liked by 1 person

    • Thank you, Louise. Meeting you online, and then in real life has given me so much confidence in my writing, and myself. I felt a connection with you from the first moment I came across your blog, and I know many people say the same thing about you. Thanks for being so supportive. xx

      Liked by 2 people

    • Thanks, Claire. You’re right about social media being overwhelming at times! I’m learning to turn away from it – without guilt – whenever I need to.
      It’s been great meeting you at KWC, then also having this extra connection online – sort of like a top-up between weekly meetings 😊

      Like

  2. You’re so right – real, true friends are priceless, wherever you find them. I know what you mean about online friends, too – I think it’s possible to get a fairly good sense of who people are from social media and to become friends, even if you haven’t met in real life. Then, when one day you do meet (like when I was lucky enough to meet Louise Allen last year), you feel like old friends and there is already a genuine bond.
    I’d love to be able to have coffee with you Marie and chat about writing, kids birthday parties and life in general! Maybe one day it will happen 🙂 Till then, thank you for such a heartwarming post xx

    Liked by 3 people

  3. What a delightful post Marie. It sounds like your son is in a great place with his friendships. I’m certainly grateful that our online friendship has blossomed into something more. It is always such a pleasure to see you in person, but it’s also nice to keep in touch via social media in between those real-life catchups! X

    Liked by 2 people

  4. What a lovely and insightful post, Marie. I too have a few close friends from childhood that remain close ties today and i hope that my daughter will have that too. As a writer, my ‘online’ friends have become very important too, because it means a lot to be surrounded by people who ‘get it’. Hopefully our paths cross one day… 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thank you, Lauren 😊. And thanks for being such a great on-line support, and friend. I hope we meet one day, too.
      I’m sure your daughter will have many rich and rewarding friendships.
      I read the latest ‘school bulletin’ from my daughter’s school this morning, which had a parent advice section referring to ‘BFFs’, and that instead, we should be promoting BFFN to our children. I.e. ‘best friend for now’, instead of ‘forever’. This is meant to take the pressure off feeling locked into friendships that become outgrown.
      I’m not sure how I feel about that advice. I moved house as a young girl (new school, new neighbours etc), then again a few times as a teenager when my parents divorced. A life-time of moving away from friends!
      I think it would have been nice to have kept a best friend from my childhood – someone to look back on those early memories with.
      I hope your daughter (and mine) retain some BFFs from childhood, as well as having many BFFNs to round out their relationship experiences.
      😊

      Liked by 1 person

      • I think it’s kind of sad that there’s been some controversy about the term BFF. It’s just a fact of life that there are some people you are closer to than others and some friendships that last longer than others. I’ve had amazing friendships that have been for a short period of time, because circumstances have changed or i’ve left jobs. I met my ‘best friend’ when we were six years old and neighbours and we continued to be friends when she moved to another school and suburb and she is still my closest friend now, even though she now lives in Perth! I know that i was lucky in that our parents were also friends so it helped us keep up communication (writing letters! Do you remember doing that?!) before the time when we had mobile phones and our own cars. I’m sorry to hear that you had many friendships that ended with moving around. I hope that my daughter will have lots of BFFN but i also hope she has that one special person who can be by her side through thick and thin.

        Liked by 1 person

      • Well said, Lauren! You’re right – BFFs are a fact of life (if you’re lucky), and I’m lucky that whilst I’ve lost contact with childhood friends, in my adult life I’ve made BFFs that I know will be around forever.
        I don’t rremember writing to friends as a child, but I did write airmail letters to my grandparents in England. Oh, those were the days!

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  5. Marie, This is a lovely post on so many levels. I was so touched that you mentioned me. It is quite something to feel a close connection with someone you’ve never met. It seems our heads were in the same place at the same time! I was thinking a lot about friendships, too. It was at that moment that I realized: I have blogger friends. And, it dawned on me that I missed hearing from you. I was also moved by your description of your son’s celebration. I’m very happy for both of you that he has great friends. As a mother, I understand how worrisome that subject can be. My daughter is very quiet and sweet. She always got along with everyone, but it took years for her to find best friends. It was such a comfort to me when she did. I feel sure that someday I’ll enjoy reading your book…and someday we’ll meet!
    P.S. Wonderful pictures!!!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thank you for inspiring me to write this post, Michele, and thank you for your lovely reply.
      It had been so long since I’d written, that it was becoming a little too easy to put blogging aside. There always seems to be something more urgent that needs to be done!
      Writing this piece was really enjoyable – and very easy to put my heart into. It seemed to flow naturally – I think because it had been on my mind for a while. When you mentioned ‘pen pals’, everything gelled together 😊

      It was also important to me that I acknowledged in some way, my son turning thirteen. It will be my daughter’s turn next year – they’re only 14 months apart – and as my last-born, her thirteenth will be just as special.

      I’ve really enjoyed getting to know you through your blog, and wouldn’t it just be wonderful if we did manage to meet one day!
      xx

      Liked by 1 person

      • It’s nice to acknowledge the special birthdays…my girl turned 21 on December 20th! Kids sure have a way of reminding us how quickly time passes! We must make the most of it…and try to blog when we can!

        Liked by 1 person

  6. Your analysis of friendships, grown-up friendships and how friendships that began around having children of the same age is very, very thoughtful. My kid is 20 now and the friendships have indeed waxed and waned, with some old ones fading into the distance (or dying, literally) and occasional bright shiny new ones appearing. They are all very enriching, but for different reasons in different times. Thanks for your insights.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thank you Kim. I’m pleased this post resonated with you. Friendships really do enrich our lives – for different reasons and in different times, like you said.
      I really appreciate you taking the the time to leave a thoughtful comment. 😊

      Like

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