I’ve always been a fairly lonely sort of person. I’ve never been one of those people who has masses of friends, or been part of an unseparable group. Through school I found that I had friends in various groups, but never was completely part of one or the other.
My closest friends, I can count on one hand, and they have been beside me for years- in fact, my best girlfriend and I have been friends since the first day of kindergarten, and that was a loooong time ago.
So, I’m no stranger to being alone. For the most part, I generally prefer it- being a bit of a homebody and a creative, I function best in my own space- but every now and then, I feel the effects of that distance.
Becoming a parent, however, has highlighted just how important having a tribe really is. Being a parent is seriously lonely work. And not just because you’re spending all your hours with a tiny person who either can’t yet speak, or who only wants to talk about dinosaurs or Paw Patrol or why they should be allowed to stay up late (aka no adult conversation in sight), but because you realize just how your friendships change.
The dynamic changes when you become a parent- friends with kids get closer, and friends without get further away. You discover just what your friends with kids were talking about when you were pre-kid, and realize just how your friends without kids are the way you once were, and understand how it suddenly doesn’t fit as well.
As a parent, your priorities shift. So much of your energy is spent on your child/children, that your partner, your friends, and even your self get shunted down the to-do list (at least in the early days- self care is so important, don’t leave yourself at the bottom too long!). For me, I noticed how what is important to me has changed. I used to think chasing people to ensure friendships was of huge importance, and I wasted a lot of energy where it wasn’t appreciated. But now, it’s not so important. For starters, I’m too tired to chase people, but it has also helped me to recognize and understand why quality friends are more valuable than quantity friends.
So I’ve found that I’ve had to let go of trying to ‘force’ some of those friendships I had before baby. The old adage of letting it go and if it comes back etc comes into play a bit, especially with those friends who are without children. Not because there’s an elitist mentality about parents and non-parents, but simply because I now understand how life priorities can cause distance between friends. As Tilly gets older, or as those friends become parents, that gap will shrink again, but I’m (slowly) coming to peace with letting go a bit more.
My tribe may not be huge, but becoming a parent, I’ve come to appreciate them so much more- because they are true friend-ships, and their lights guide me in the dark.