At no other time in your life are friends as vital as when you are a mum. Mothering is sometimes a hard gig and it can be especially lonely if you are doing it full-time.
Friendships come in many forms throughout our lives and we categorise them accordingly. There are work friends, family friends, school friends, old friends, new friends and sometimes, friends of ‘convenience’. But right now I am recruiting friends with benefits (FWB). And I believe every mum needs to have at least one.
Mothers’ Group friends are great initially. Everyone has babies the same age and you can chat endlessly about sleep cycles, feeding issues and whose baby has started to roll. But eventually, some return to work or others move out of the area and before long the group disbands.
Online friends are relevant to the stay-at-home mum. They reduce the feeling of isolation and, whilst not a substitute for the real thing, online friends can make you feel as though you’ve left the house when you haven’t. But these friends often fall into the ‘quantity’ category.
Friends of convenience have merit. You may have children that attend the same gymbaroo or kinder ballet class and you use each other to pass the otherwise boring time. Often the friendship doesn’t extend outside of these sessions, but these friends are certainly handy to have. Park friends often fall into this category. Pushing the swing becomes instantly more bearable when you have an adult to talk to, no matter what the topic of conversation.
But the most relevant friend to the stay-at-home mum is the FWB. But what qualifies someone as an FWB? If you ask someone who’s single and childless, it’s likely you’ll get a very different response! But to the full-time mum, benefits mean anything that makes raising kids that little bit easier and hopefully a bit more fun.
When my second child was on her way, it was time to trade in my inner-city postcode for a more ‘grown up’ house in leafy suburbia. When we moved I also found myself in the market for new friends. Soon after moving I met a GP at the park. It was a stroke of good timing. And whilst a pediatrician would have been an extra bonus, being a GP definitely qualifies her as a FWB. I can now avoid the waiting room at my local medical centre, and I seriously need someone to discredit my online diagnoses of my children. She also has a cubby house, trampoline and sandpit at her house. Tick. Tick. Tick.
I met another fabulous candidate for a FWB recently. Within minutes of meeting we established some common ground: we had both come from the same previous postcode, she had a daughter the same age as mine and, most favourably, she had a healthy interest in wine! She was perfect in so many ways. Her daughter was due to start at the same local kinder as my daughter when they turned three. She lived in my street – a massive bonus. She was fun, interesting and had a cracking sense of humour. Experience has taught me that being around funny people is crucial to surviving the trials of motherhood.
We quickly established a rapport and exchanged phone numbers. I wasn’t exactly sure of the etiquette involved in consolidating a new friend I had just met in the street. Should I wait three days before calling? Did the same rule apply to making new friends in the park as it did to initiating a date with a man? Before having children I would never have been so eager to make a new friend, even the sort with those benefits. But since becoming a mum I’m far more uninhibited when it comes to initiating new friendships. I sent her a text message later that day and my forwardness paid off. We have been catching up every week since.
In spite of our blossoming friendship, this FWB has gone and done something wildly selfish. She’s decided to hold her daughter back from 3 year old kinder. I am devastated. I had already started imagining our girls as best friends at kinder, then walking hand in hand on their first day of school. Horrid of her, I know. Despite this, I still consider her to be a true FWB. After all, every play date is better shared with good company and a bottle of sparkling!
What would you classify as the ultimate FWB?