I am sitting on a sofa across from one of my best friends. We are very similar in many ways, although very different in others, but our core values are broadly similar. We get each other in a way that many people don’t. She lives at the other end of the country from me so I don’t see her as often I used to.
She is in the area, travelling for business, so calls in to see us for a quick brew on the way to her destination about an hour further on. It’s lovely to see her as I’ve not met up with her for about three months, all good intentions to go up for the day to see her and her daughter put to bed due to a run of illness in Small Boy and a bunch of other commitments on both our parts.
Hubs is putting Small Boy to bed. I’ve already spent 20 minutes of walking and cajoling and false starts at getting him in. He used to be good at going to sleep (staying asleep was a different matter) but the past couple of months have been tough – illness, clocks changing and probably the onset of the terrible twos have all built up into the current horror of bed time. I long for the days when you could ” is it bed time” and he’d climb up the stairs, holding “Babbit”, and wait patiently by his cot.
My friend is telling me that she knows how hard it is. Her daughter, now four, went through a similar stage. I’m close to tears because I’m the most tired I’ve been since becoming a mum. I’ve had a tough couple of weeks in my day job and despite having to take time off to care for SB, I’ve still worked over my hours trying to meet deadlines. I’ve no idea how that has happened. I’m exhausted. My nerves are frayed. I know she went through it though and I know that I’ll be the person sat on a sofa reassuring another parent at some point in the future.
This friend is my anchor friend. Everyone needs one. She doesn’t know it but she is. I miss her terribly, as I know that she would move heaven and earth to help me out with SB if we lived locally again.
Although we’ve probably known each other for around ten years I feel like I’ve known my anchor for much longer. Everyone needs a friend like that. The sort of friend who comes along later in life but suddenly gets you and shares your views on big issues. You might have an anchor friend from childhood, but in my experience life can sometimes mean you drift apart on some issues. University, relationships, locations, jobs, they all have an influence in shaping you and sometimes this means that there’s parts of your life or experience that friends from your youth don’t always get.
I think an anchor friend is particularly important for mums. They’re the ones who knew you before you had kids. They help remind you of what you were like before you became a mum. They can help unpick how you’re feeling when you’re exhausted or emotional because they know what your baseline is. They are the yin to the yang of your new mummy friends, the other women who’ve only known you as a mummy, and are in the trenches, elbows deep in nappies with you. The balance is important.
But my anchor friend has become even more important to me since I became a mum as she is one too. We are both older mums, both driven in our careers but also remarkably relaxed about how they fit into the big picture. She knows the pressures of juggling it all, but also understanding the realities of compromise and trying to achieve a balance in rearing what is may be your only child. Her child is a few years older and that helps because I know when she says “this too will pass” it will. When she says she understands what it’s like to have a child who is “all mummy” and won’t go to sleep, she gets it.
My anchor friend lets me know that it can be tough but that I’m strong, that I will get through it and that she’ll listen without judgement. She will share her stories because she’s known me for so long that I will judge her – “we’re among friends here”, she’ll joke, and that’s exactly what I need to know.
I need to know that eventually things will change and while we all face new challenges as our kids get older, that we’ll conquer those too. Routines will change and our schedules and lifestyles will adjust. There will also be time for us and to talk about our plans, hopes, and views on a whole range of things – occasionally we might get to talk politics or restaurants.
Yes, I think every mum probably needs an anchor in her mummy tribe.