Motherhood isn’t easy—this we know. There are always challenges (sometimes, more than we can count) and part of what gets us through is our invaluable, irreplaceable girlfriends. When times are good, when times are tough, we rely on other mums to listen, comfort, or just make us laugh.
I lean heavily on my friends for support and feel fortunate to have connected with some amazing women who accept me and my three highly energetic kids. There is one particular friend I spend a good deal of time with—she is charming, fun, adventurous, and always up for outings. Several times a week, we head to a beach, park, or museum with our pack of kids in tow. We do things on weekends and over school holidays as well, when our hubbies are tied up with work.
Until recently, our mum friendship was flourishing without a hitch … and that’s when my kids started complaining. You see, my friend’s children are younger—one is in kindergarten, the other is a toddler. Apparently, to my 8-year-old twins, a toddler is dog years away (as if they were never that age), and while I admit travelling with a 3-or-under kid can be challenging, so is travelling with my second graders! Besides, the toddler isn’t the issue at all.
The real problem, as presented by my kids, is that we do too much with my friend and not enough with their friends. Recently, as we drove to meet up with said friend, my kids launched into a full-scale offensive. How come we always do stuff with your friend? We want playdates with our own friends! I opened my mouth to protest and then stopped because I realised … they might have a point. Part of me wanted to say “Hey, I deserve to spend time with my friends so deal with it!”—but another part knew their feelings were understandable and maybe even justified. Truth be told, I had gotten into a habit of planning our family activities based on whom I wanted to spend time with.
Later, I mentioned this to a few mum friends and was surprised to hear they had been handed the same guilt trip by their children … so maybe we’ve taught our kids a little too well to stick up for themselves? Seriously, I love that my kids fight for their rights—but it does beg the question: as mums, when should we be selfish and when should we be selfless? So much of our lives is spent doing doing doing for our kids that the impulse to do something for ourselves starts to become lost—and I am living proof that the moment you try to take back a little “me” time, you get busted by your kids!
Sometimes a mum just can’t win—but even when you’re losing the battle, remember: you have a right to have a life. I will continue to hang with my friend—because she is my friend. My kids will respect that—because they should. I will also attempt to balance our family calendar a bit more evenly and involve my kids in some of the decisions—because let’s face it, we are not just mums: we are crisis managers, world-class diplomats, and cruise directors all rolled into one.