I try my hardest, but sometimes I think I am a rubbish friend. Months go by without any contact, plans are made and then cancelled, and phone calls put off until the intention is completely forgotten.
If you are my friend, I am sorry – and here is an explanation…
1. Writing messages can take hours
Before I had kids, I never understood why parents didn’t have the time to scrawl a message. They had time to make a cup of coffee! They had time to update Facebook! How long did it take to type a message on a phone and press send? Well, quite frankly, it can take hours. Why? It goes something like this. “Hi!” you manage to write, before your youngest toddles to the oven and starts fiddling with the dials. You jump up and a few minutes later, you find your phone and continue. “It’s been ages!” you type, before a shriek is heard and you find both boys playing tug of war with your husband’s work notes. You realise it’s nearly the kids dinnertime, so you head to the freezer to forage for fish fingers. At some point, you remember the message and type “How have things been?” and then a little hand reaches up and the baking tray with tonight’s dinner flies like a missile across the kitchen. That is why.
2. There really is no babysitter
When I say ‘I can’t get a babysitter’, I don’t really mean that. What I mean is that the ones that I trust and that already know the routine are not available and the husband is working late. And explaining that routine, along with the baby’s complex milk measurements and the bizarre tactics we employ to get our children back to sleep at night is sometimes just not worth the effort.
3. I just want to pass out on the sofa
After the days I sometimes have with my children, you’d think I’d be running to the door to escape in the evening. But no – as soon as they are in bed, we’ve made some effort to clear up, and we’ve thought about dinner, my body walks on autopilot like a robot to the sofa. And once I am down, there’s no getting back up.
4. There are obstacles
There have been times when there are messages on my phone and I have every intention of replying, but my phone is currently swimming in a pint of water / the toilet bowl / a bubble bath after a little accident at home. It isn’t always the kids either – I once put my own phone in a pint of water on my bedside table in a sleep-deprived state during the newborn days. And I only realised when I tried to take a swig of water the next morning.
5. Getting from A to B is too much
Oh how I miss the days when I could jump on the train on a Friday evening with a stack of magazines and a giant coffee / mini bottle of pinot grigio, and make my way to a fun weekend away to catch up with far flung friends. These days, I’d be pushing a pushchair with a screaming toddler, whilst simultaneously dragging a suitcase and trying to control a three-year-old that had decided he had better plans elsewhere. And that’s just the first bit – the thought of the train journey itself and the resulting weekend trying to control the rabble leaves me feeling a bit queasy.
6. Social events aren’t quite the same
I am sorry for turning down your invitation. It’s not that I don’t want to come to your garden party and sip summer cocktails in the sunshine. You have no idea how much I want to do that! But that will not be the case. I will instead be walking up and down your garden steps 93 times over the course of the afternoon with a toddler that thinks it’s the best game ever, dashing off mid-conversation to stop his brother falling in your pond, and having 7 drinks over the course of the afternoon that I take a few sips from and then leave in strange places and forget about. If I’m totally honest, I’d rather be at home watching Team Umizoomi whilst remembering how lovely your garden parties were in the days pre-kids and stalking social media for photos.
7. Sometimes I have nothing to say
When I have a bad day, I often just want to sit and stare at the television with my husband by my side. And other days, I think about picking up the phone and then I realise I have nothing to say and I don’t want to bore you with my story of how I spent 20 minutes picking playdoh out of the window sill with tweezers.
8. I know you will understand
But most importantly, I know my real friends will understand if it takes me a week to reply to a message, that I don’t always have the energy to bring my 18-month old to their garden party, and that sometimes I just want to climb into my pyjamas and pass out on the sofa. And I hope they know that one day, when my kids are old enough to wash their own pants and cook their own fish fingers, I will be back on that train flicking through my magazines within 5 minutes of their invitation making its way to my inbox – and when that happens, I will be thanking my lucky stars that they stuck with me through the child-induced silences. And I will definitely be raising a toast with my plastic cup of pinot grigio to that.