Knowing who your mates are.
I started thinking the other night about turning 40 (even though its obviously many YEARS away) and pondering over whether I want a big party (do I have enough friends?) or a mini break with the kids (nope) or a chilled spa trip with my best mates (perfect). But then it got me wondering, who are my best mates these days, and what makes them the best?
Firstly I am one of the few people who have maintained very close relationships with the girls I started school with at the age of 5. We have literally lived our lives together, been each others bridesmaids, consoled and celebrated with each other through every milestone you can imagine. We know each others families and we know each others secrets going back a loooong way (must remember to keep this crew on side). Over the years we have moved away from our home town and our lives have of course taken different paths. But the friendships remain and I know they always will. I still instinctively reach out to these girls first at difficult times or special times. So closely sharing over three decades together must surely mean they are my ‘best mates’.
Then theres my motherhood. When I moved to Clevedon with a 20 month old I knew no-one and reached out online to local mums. After the initial awkward introductions at the local Chinese we found out we had loads in common and very quickly developed close friendships resulting in happy years supporting each other through the fog of firstborns. Picnics, playdates and child free socialising. Most importantly 4 years later and we are still going strong but as friends rather than mums. Our kids are all at different schools and barely know each other yet we now see each other regularly at meals/cinema/dinners and (not frequent enough) weekends away. I often think of these girls as the ones who got me through some tricky times when I first moved here and my local life just wouldnt be the same without them, so does that make them my best mates?
Then came the second child. Not many of the above group fitted into this lifestyle and I worried who I would spend my maternity leave with. The god of mates saw fit to introduce me to an amazing lady in hospital who took me under her wing and introduced me to a large group of local antenatal & pregnancy yoga mums, about 20 altogether and I was immediately made to feel welcome and had the most wonderful maternity year having so many to lean on for support and spend time with. Fast-forward a few years and naturally smaller groups have emerged as people have different work patterns and a few of us keeners quite quickly had another child (my 3rd) so by default started to do more together. A few of these are definitely my regular go to’s for my ‘help ive got nothing to do with the kids today’ and we have had great BBQs, cinema dates, country walks, babysitting for each other as we attempt to rebuild our shattered social lives and a few of us have even taken up hockey together in a an attempt to rebuild our shattered bodies. I see these guys allll the time and my kids love their kids, so maybe that makes them my best mates.
Family. Not many have as many fantastic females in their family as me. Obviously my mum is the mother of all mums and the nanny of all nannys but thats another story. Aside from her I have amazing cousins, auntys, second cousins, nieces etc who have known me longer than anyone else and are my blood relatives. So surely that gives them the highest ranking?
School mums. Well when we got our 3rd choice school place on the opposite side of town I cried, I ranted, I appealed, I protested and then I gave up. Because it very quickly became apparent not only was it a wonderful school but I had struck gold with the school mums. From day one there were firm friendships, mums with younger ones for playdates, mums to pick up your kids when your stuck, mums to have them after school when you work, mums to remind you what the costume theme is and most importantly mums to be mates with. These women are in my life every day and will be for the next 15 years and I know that will be as mates as well as mums.
Last but by no means least we all have that friend, or maybe a couple that you just connect with. You can finish each others sentences, you can read each others minds, you get the most drunk together and you can tell each other quite literally anything without fear of being judged. But oddly, you live far away, you dont see or speak to each other for months at a time, you know little about each others day to day lives, but when you do get together it makes no difference as it still feels like you see each other every day.
So the question remains, who really ranks as the best of the best and who am I hoping to celebrate with?
Writing this blog and thinking it through made me realise that after you leave your youth behind and enter middle age you are far more grateful. Soooo grateful to have all of these superwomen in my life and actually all for completely different reasons. I would never take any of these friendships for granted and although I would love to see them all more, they all just get it. We arent at school anymore when we would spend every day together and then 2 hours chatting on the home phone in the evening (sorry parents). Some I see every day, some I dont see for years. Some have kids, some dont. Some live on my road, some on the other side of the world. Some are just like me, some the total opposite.
But the honest truth is they are all the best to me and my world would be far less super without them in it. Best I get planning that party.