Wednesday, April 21, 2010


My three year old tells me, depending on his mood, that either I am “not his best friend” or I am. Mostly I’m not. My witty comeback to this? “That’s good Jack, because I’m not here to be your best friend, I’m here to be your MOTHER!” Of course he had already walked off by the time I'm at “good”, but at least I am giving a mature and well thought out response. It's parenting 101 really.

I’ve been thinking about friends lately. A lot. The ones I have, the ones I would like, the ones I know for sure I don’t. Because, even though we grow older, our need to have a friend, a group, a place we belong, doesn’t ease or abate.

Maddison, aged 10 going on 35 comes home every other day, telling me she’s no longer friends with Emma, or Kristine or Rachel or whoever the girl was that didn’t talk to her enough that day or didn’t include her in a conversation about the latest Year 6 scandal. And, I’m sure she’s not always the innocent, hard done by party. Let’s just say, if she’s on the "in" side of the “in crowd” I hear no complaints. Primary school has always been a bitchy battlefield. The players change, the game doesn’t.


I have three best friends. Bonnie, Bronwyn and Jodi. Sorry if that sounds like I’m in grade 3, but we still introduce ourselves to new people that way. We have known each other for most of our lives. I’d like to romanticise that we were constantly best friends, but for a lot of that time, we were merely just classmates. But after school, I reckon you start to pick your people, not learn to put up with them.

I define my best friends as the people I can tell ANYTHING to. I mean anything. They know all my bad stories and they were usually involved in most of my best. I know I could ring all three at any one time and say “Hey, yeah I know it’s 2am, but I’m blind, I’ve only got one shoe on and I don’t know where I am, come get me??” and they would. No questions, no judgement. I know I can flash my teeth and ask if there is something hideous lodged in there or they will give me an inconspicuous heads up, if I have an embarrassing situation happening with my nostrils. We know we can go a few weeks sometimes and not talk and it’s all good. It doesn’t mean we’ve got the shits, it just means we’re busy.


I guess what got me thinking at all about friendships was a party I went to the other night. The host of the party was desperate to introduce me to one particular person because she wanted us to “be friends”. She was adamant we were very similar and wanted us to be great friends. It was kind of like a blind date but without the added bonus of potential meaningless sex. So we were introduced and you know what, she was lovely. Smart, funny, pretty and we got on like a house on fire. Mind you, it was dark, we were drinking like it was an open bar and it was the first night I had been let loose sans kids in months.

So the next bit was kind of awkward. It felt like the day after you got a guys number at a nightclub. Who calls first? I mean, do we need to call, maybe I should just facebook her? But what if she rejects me? Loserville. Who wants to be the one who looks like a stalker? OH God, I am 16 again.

There are also two wonderful mums’ I’ve met through kindy. We have talked at functions and kids parties and well, we just click. But it’s like there is an invisible shield between us getting on and actually going that extra step and setting up a one on one “date”. For a start, we are all working mums (one a high school teacher and the other a journo) and it’s hard enough getting time to pee in peace, let alone organise unadulterated “new friend” time sipping vino and talking shit. But part of me desperately wants to hang out more. These are the times where I wish I just had no shame and could instigate things. But then, that just wouldn’t be me.

I've just met the lovely J, who's story you can read here . J has been dealt a shit hand but isn't it letting it beat her. I used to think the only people who meet in real life off the internet were either perves or desperadoes. Not so. So we had a coffee, she inadvertently started tried to smother my son (not really) and Sam took a shine to her complete with handhold.


I reckon when I hit about 30 I just had an epiphany. Negative, hard to deal with “friends” just weren’t going to get my valuable time anymore. Why would I spend time with someone who puts me down or is constantly making me feel terrible when I don’t get enough time to spend time with the people I really want to? I believe this is an age and maturity issue. That’s why it feels like it’s worse than breaking up with a well meaning, yet useless boyfriend when it happens.

Of course Gen Y’ers and God, I don’t even know what my 10yo daughters generation is called, are a different kettle of fish. They have the social mediums of texting and facebook to keep in contact with, as soon as they go home each day. In our day (yes I am a Nanna); we lost touch with people the day after we graduated. So the dynamics will change and I guess the kids of today will always have a larger circle of friends and acquaintances.

I hope they get the best friend experience though. It’s pretty priceless.


Smudgeblurr said...

Hey Bern,
Loved this as always - I have made some new friends through Uni this year and they are all lovely ladies and I hope we will stay in touch in years to come - been awhile since I made a 'new' friend so can totally relate.

Brenda said...

You're lucky you have 3 best friends. I only have 1 and she lives overseas. So suckage to the max. And honestly, finding another best friend when you're a 37 yo, stay-at-home-mum of 4 kids is bloody hard work. Sigh.

emlykd said...

Love this post, Bern. As per usual it's relevant, topical.. I have just started at a new campus of uni and am now in that stage of "having friends to sit next to in lectures and if we happen to run into each other at uni, will have a chat" but not sure how to take it to that "date" stage. I desperately need some friends after having spent the last 4 years or so out of the state, etc. But it's all.. so.... awkward and... difficult...

Seraphim said...

Great post. Like you I recently cut out the friendships that weren't enriching my life. Not in a bad way, it's just life is too short to do otherwise.I have some great girlfriends and some great potential friends too, it's just finding the time to nurture and develop the relationships. Thanks for writing this. x

Jodie at Mummy Mayhem said...

Wow. This sounds like I could have written this post about ME!!! Without the 3 bestfriends bit.

I think women find it hard to connect. Guys find something they're both in to, and WHAM - they hang out. Girls? Not so natural.

I met a girl at a cafe once (located in a toy store). We seemed to really click. I was talking to her about her latest pregnancy, and she felt I'd helped her feel better with what I'd said. I gave her my number, and said to call me and we could catch up some time. It was the first time I went out on a limb like that. She never called!!! I was so disappointed!

I really thought, before I had my kids, that I'd meet some lovely friends thru Mother's Group. Nup. There was one girl there I clicked with, and we spent some time together, but she moved away, and eventually, we lost touch. The only time I see those girls from my Mother's Group is if I bump in to them.

I met Megan from Writing Out Loud, and that was great! We found we shared a very similar sense of humour. I would not have imagined doing that years ago - ie meeting up with someone I'd met on the 'net!

AND like you - by 30, I'd worked out who my real friends were. It's not about how long you've known someone, it's about the quality of the friendship.

I have a few friends in Perth that I would ALWAYS catch up with when I go back there - two of which lived in Sydney for a short time a few years ago (so we all got to hang out together a little again, which was great - we've known each other since high school). But now I have two close friends here in Sydney. One of which, I see a lot (our kids go to school together) and I never tire of her company! It's nice to know she's there.

Lovely post, Bern. xxx

Alyssa said...

thats really lovely that you have old friends that have stuck by you snot and food in teeth issues and all :)

I think facebook destroys friendships. i get SICK of friends because i know so much about their lives from facebook that when you are face to face you really have nothing to talk about.
social networking provides TOO MUCH communication. never thought i would say that...

Kallie said...

Great post,I hate all that stuff trying to get to know new friends. I think dating could be easier but then I haven't done that in 30 years so might just be my bad memory lol

I'm glad that you no longer think those who meet via the internet aren't all pervs or desperate :) I've been meeting new friends off the internet for about 14 yrs. Stayed friends with some, not others and most of the awkward stuff happens before you meet so it's easier :)

Kristy said...

It is really hard to make new friends as an adult. I think if you Facebook your new friend, that wouldn't be strange and could open up easy communication. I have 2 best friends and we are scattered around the country. We don't get to see each other nearly as much, but when we do, it is just wonderful.

kbxmas said...

Bern, I hear you. Ever since I married and had kids I've really had difficult making new friends. Most of my new friends are of the virtual variety now, which I treasure as much as my friends in the flesh and actually interact with much more frequently. I have friends half way across the world that I connect with daily while I rarely see some of the friends that live just across town. Sign of the times perhaps. Though some days I just yearn to sit down and have a coffee with someone.

Girl Clumsy said...

Wish I had just one best girlfriend, let alone three...

I do have close-ish girlfriends but I seem to be the kind of person not capable of that sis-mance (like a bromance but with chicks?) thing.

Luckily my beloved is my best friend, but sometimes you just want to talk to another girl, you know? I also feel bad with dumping "crazy woman" crap on him, when a girl would understand it so much more easily and not feel the need to provide solutions and/or logic. ;)

Annieb25 said...

Bern, it sounds like you are describing my life there! I have 3 very close friends - one has been my friend since we started kindy together! I have been blessed with wonderful friends - but too have been cursed with some high maintenance life suckers who I kicked into touch about 6 years ago. Life is too short to spend time with people who only take. Friendship and love is a 2 way street. The richness of friendships make life a wonderful place to be.

So Now What? said...

Thanks for all the comments. Seems it's a girl thing and totally agree,guys play a game of cricket and wham, instant mates. GC, totally understand unloading all the crazy girl stuff. We at work were talking the other day about a couple situation and reckon the girl has probably analysed the shit out of it and the poor guy is flat out telling one mate about his incredibly hard situation. Yeah, it is wonderful to have three best friends, just got one back from having moved away, Bron is in Victoria now and Bon is up the road so we see each other the most.

Annieb25 said...

oh and by the way - great post title. Much more creative than anything I could have thought of.

Thea said...

This is such a timely post for me.
I was just lamenting yesterday my friendless state in this town.
I can feel a blog post coming on.....

Jewels Diva® said...

I'm all for getting rid of toxic people from my life. And making "new" friends can be hard especially if there's jobs and kids involved.

I supposed you work around it and meet at a park or something where the kids can play and you can chat.

tiff(threeringcircus) said...

I find the whole making friends thing really really hard.

I think our kids are gen z (or more popular is the bubble wrap generation).

PS, I love your blog. I mean I pink fluffy hearts it and I haven't felt that way about a blog in a long time.

Meegan said...

Thankgod for friends!! I too have a great group of friends. 4 of my bestest(yes bestest)are from school(over 24 yrs of friendship)They are there for me NO MATTER WHAT, and I for them.None of us have sister's...we are each other's sister. I also have made some great friends through work. I will always remember a girl I knew that said..."I don't need friends"....well we showed her...we didn't need her either!

Linda said...

Fab post Bern. It raised so many thoughts for me that I'm frozen when it comes to trying to write them.

But I guess the main one is an observation. There are obviously loads of us who feel the same way; women love a good friendship and there is always room for more wonderful people in your life. So, if we all feel this way, we should all be prepared to go out on a limb more often.

Forgive my metaphor mangling, but some of those limbs may grow into tall trees and some may crash to the ground; some seeds may grow and others not (ok, it's laboured now but you get the idea!). If we all take risks with friendship, we'll all be rewarded.

So saying, who (in Sydney!) is up for a coffee soon?!

Kylie L said...

I think your blog just swallowed my (longish) post again... arrrgh! And now I have to get back to work, so I'll summarise it by saying great blog, you're so right, and yep, chicks need friends (or emotional connections) far more than blokes do. Just watching my two kids approach to making friends at their new school has convinced me of that. Daughter: where's a friend? I need a friend. Who will be my friend? Will you be my friend? Son: Hope there's someone-anyone- I can kick the footy with.

Writergrrl said...

On one hand, I can totally relate - it CAN be like dating, but with friends.

But, for me at least, I find it really easy to make new friends in Oz. Perhaps it's the fact that the culture is one where people are more likely to just say it how it is, take the piss and get on with the fun? Most people seem willing to at least grab a beer or a coffee at least once and that helps.

I suppose I'm a bit of a "jump in and see how you go" kind of girl - I love making new friends - whether IRL or online (and transition to real life, if poss). And, as you said, if friends or acquaintances don't seem to be positive or growing any longer, I think it's totally kosher to cut them loose (or have them cut me loose!)

Great post, as always!! :)

Linda T said...

Great post, I took a little longer to ditch the friends who weren't doing me any good, I'm a little immature that way.
I have 2 friends from school and we catch up once or twice a year and laugh like the teenagers we were, usually shaking our heads at who we were and who we are now. I also have 2 other long time girlfriends who are my rocks, I couldn't live without them and am so lucky to have them in my life. But that's it.... I guess I'm luckier than some and not as lucky as others.
I find it hard being married and finding couples where you all get along. We only have one couple friends which makes it difficult.

Quixotic said...

Love this post. I am also 'friend-hunting' since moving to the GC, but am finding it a bit weird to be picking up chicks at the playground. ;o)
Although I did recently make a lovely friend when her flowers were mistakenly delivered to my house. Weird huh?

lifeinapinkfibro said...

Moving to a new town is a great way to get your 'friendly face' back in action. I've met some great people in the last year. No besties just yet, but it takes time to build the best friendships.

Katrina said...

Love the photo... had a chuckle. I agree, our friendships are always changing depending on our stages in life. I have some I love to death and I have some I wish I could ditch...hahaha! Have a great day xx

Draft Queen said...

I need friends. And time to have them.

chicago teeth cleaning said...

Great post.I also love my old friends.

cerealfordinner said...

Loved the friendship post! I'm a Gen Y-er and have two best friends from primary school - we've known each other for 16 years. We started a band together, pretended we were TLC, made fun of each other for liking boys and had more fun than any one around us at school, as far as we could tell anyway.

We're all still great friends and even though we're either married, have babies or are busy with work, we always make the time for each other and I just love them for it! They're definitely the type to come to the rescue if I ever ended up drunk, lost and with only one shoe too. Come to think of it, I'm pretty sure that has actually happened to one of us before.

Farmers Wife said...

Great post, I hate the whole defriending thing online cheapens what friendship is. My closest friend lives away from me and I can ring her and we chat like nothing else, even though it may be 12 months since we saw each other. Sometimes people just click!

Amy Paul said...

Totally get all of that.
Thanks for sharing.
Love the cat.
xx Amy

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