Suddenly you find yourself friends with someone for no other reason than because she happens to have a child that is roughly the same age as yours. Or because her child's schedule fits around your child's nap.
Perhaps someone you never would have been friends with, because your worlds never collided, suddenly is a best buddy because her child has the same energy levels as yours and you're both desperate for their energy-releasing playdate.
You find yourself avoiding someone you actually like because her child is violent or always ill.
Finally you (a non-spanking calm parent with a sensitive child) find someone you like, who has 'nice' kids... and during a get-together she freaks out, starts screaming bloody murder, and spanks her kids.
What about the person you click with and that you feel that you could really have a great time together? But she hasn't got kids and views you as a mama first. So you're last on the list for margaritas.
Or the lovely mamas who want to talk about nothing but mamahood, when you'd rather discuss the meaning of life.
Perhaps you find someone who does want to have a glass of wine with you but doesn't understand that you don't do babysitters, or that your focus is family get-togethers.
With a child at school, you end up friends with the woman who looks as dissheveled as you when dropping her child off. Feeling that there's a kindred spirit.... or at least someone who won't judge your parental disorganisation.
The New Yorker
There's a scene in Desperate Housewives (yes, fine, I watched a couple of seasons), where two mothers break up a fight between their sets of twins. Both apologise for their own children's behaviour, as they are both aware of what terrors their children are. They're accustomed to the other parent shouting at them to control their kids.
There's a spark of recognition. One tentatively asks the other for a playdate, and they agree. There is immense relief. They never followed the story line. But I could imagine a friendship blossoming under these very simple but profoundly important conditions - thet they each happen to have violent boisterous boys.
There's also online friendships of course. Ones made initially because you both have mama blogs and children around the same age, or same health condition, or same psychological issues.
What about the friendships before having kids? Some become stronger and some melt away because of having or not having kids. Or seeing a different side to your friend in their parenting style.
We, as parents, tend to, I believe, gravitate towards families, as opposed to singles or couples. And those families with similar parenting styles and values as our own. But we don't always have that luxury to pick and choose. Sometimes you have to make the best of what is around you. Including how others view you and who your children are.
What about if you're not particularly sociable but feel pressure to make friends with other adults for the sake of your child?
Me? I live in Montenegro, amongst a tiny English-speaking expat community. We have been so fortunate to have found expats are own age, and with small children. It means that children's parties actually have other children there. It means there is at least some understanding about obligations and child-related needs. It means general moral support as parents.
However, it's not all smooth sailing. We are all very different people. Our parenting styles can differ poles apart. Our personal needs, goals, and socialising styles differ. Boy children tend to seek each other out. We have a girl. The Wildflower's nap and general sleep is shambolic, and almost always clashes with social events or we get up too late to take strolls with others. Or we're simply too tired for anything involving other people.
Ironically, me, a non-natural mother, is probably seen as the most mumsy around here.
On the other hand. The Wildflower's late nights mean we can socialise when others with kids must go home. Her ability to speak and get on with adults means we can go many more places. Her love of reading means we can sometimes navigate a coffee at a cafe, something that most with kids don't bother trying. Our cultural background, where family is first, means our attitude is very relaxed about going places with her - not feeling we have to find a babysitter.
Of course, as our kids get older it changes quite a bit, I think. We feel less responsible for finding friends for our children, or working friendships around Family, and thus can make our own friends too.
My ideal situation? Well, since you ask. It would be something like this.
A small group of mothers with mindful parenting styles, with children of varying ages who got on well together. Who were pleased as punch to get together with all our kids and discuss life, art, philosophy, and the many merits of chai, as our kids played happily around us.
But an ideal isn't always what we, our soul 'we', truly needs. We're in the situation we're in for a reason. We fight it or we learn from it. I've certainly learnt a LOT, especially this last month. I'm happier for it.
So what's your situation?
AC = After Children